This past week - the first week of August - was a set of essential planning days for us.
This was precious time for our teacher team to begin this year’s school development cycle. Because our priorities were clear from the beginning, we used our time efficiently. In just three days, we learned about each other’s strengths and passions, AND we made significant headway in framing the learning experiences.
Last year was the school’s inaugural year so some structures were not yet in place so when we were building the calendar for this academic year, we knew how important it was going to be to build in teacher work days. These days will be times to reflect on units and frame out the upcoming ones.
This was a lot of fun. I love a cycle, a process. And collaboratively planning instruction should be just that. A cycle. We can never think that we can plan a year out or develop school goals once at the start of the year. Time built into the calendar is essential to help us keep our vision in focus and our priorities in line.
Robin Jackson, author of the ASCD book, Stop Leading, Start Building: Turn Your School into a Success Story with the People and Resources You Already Have, tells us we need to get off the old-school hamster wheel of school improvement planning - once a year, same-ish plan, no time to reflect and revise, and then keep running on that same "improvement" plan year after year. We have to stop this damaging cycle. It wastes our time and energy and keeps us only in a lane of compliance.
Whether you are the lead planner or a participant in the process, consider a new planning cycle strategy to facilitate success for your school community to avoid getting caught on that hamster wheel.