Yesterday I visited a school principal who was in his office, despite being on vacation, because there is just so much to do. He kept apologizing for “the mess” – which was not really a mess at all, it was just the business of transitioning a school from summer activities to fall. Summer, a time when orders come in (boxes in the hallway), maintenance projects take place (lockers were being switched out for larger lockers), tech gets updated, curriculum is written, summer “camps” use the building, teachers are in and out, meetings are held, and the building is cleaned top to bottom; and Fall when buildings, grounds, and classrooms are clean and welcoming, parent, student (and teacher!) anxiety is high, and everything (transportation, scheduling, food services, technology and security) is up and running smoothly. At least that is your hope!
School districts have a Grand Re-opening every year. In preparation for this, everyone involved has a to-do list: superintendents, principals, assistant principals, guidance personnel, teachers, child study teams, secretaries, maintenance staff, custodians, food service people, transportation, IT staff, parents and students. Most of these to-do lists overlap and depend on other people doing their to-dos.
Managing the Grand Re-opening
How do you manage all of this? One person does not have to do all of the work, but shouldn’t someone be responsible for organizing and keeping track of the work so that the right hand DOES know what the left hand is doing? How do you plan for success? One way to organize your Grand Re-opening is to use a process that will go much deeper than the traditional to-do list using these steps:
- Start with the right people in the room. Pull together a team or task force of stakeholders that can help you understand all of the issues that need to be taken care of. These may not be the actual do-ers, but those that can help determine what needs to be done and will take ownership.
- Once you have your list of “actionable items” (the “to dos”), clarify those steps by asking “What needs to be done? By whom? By when?”
- Use simple tools to keep communication going in both directions – google docs and a shared calendar can help keep everyone informed of your progress towards opening day.
Using a process or critical thinking strategy can help you organize your thinking to keep the big picture in focus while bits and pieces are taken care of. Think of those separate tasks as puzzle pieces that have to fit together to get to your main goal – the grand opening. As when you help to put together a jigsaw puzzle, it feels great when your section falls into place to be part of the “big picture.” Make sure you include “celebration” as one of the tasks to prepare for! Planning for a smooth transition between summer and fall can help you set a positive tone for everyone in the coming school year.