How Education Leaders Can Restore, Retool, Recommit Now & All School Year — Part 2

Recommitting to your passion as an education leader—and to pursuing your own professional learning—are the building blocks for success in this new school year. Here are resources to help.
Blog date
8/22/23
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It's so important for educators and leaders to take time to catch their breaths, especially after a sprint to the end of last school year and the sprint to the start of another school year. This new school year is coming around the corner fast enough (or maybe already here!), and you want to feel rested and reenergized for everything a new school year brings. 

Throughout our annual summer series—Restore. Retool. Recommit.—we have focused on how you can leverage three actions to gain fresh perspective on the year ahead: 

  • Restore your energy and your joy
  • Retool your leadership with new ideas  
  • Recommit to your passion and your drive

Our summer 2023 series explores five key themes and offers resources and strategies for you to check out during the slower-paced summer months as well as all year long. As you know well, professional learning can take many formats; it just needs to be the right fit for you. Maybe that’s diving into a great book. Or listening to a compelling podcast while you take a walk around your neighborhood. Or maybe it’s another leader’s story that speaks to your heart and reminds you of why you stay committed to this work.

Regular, ongoing professional learning is one of the best ways to amplify and sustain your impact in schools at every level: from the classroom to the superintendent’s office.

Regular, ongoing professional learning is one of the best ways to amplify and sustain your impact in schools at every level: from the classroom to the superintendent’s office. Access to professional development improves overall effectiveness, bolsters retention, and increases the capacity of district and school leaders to create systems that nurture the existing leadership capacity within the whole school community.

All of that is especially important right now as teachers and principals are leaving the field at higher rates than before. We understand that there are many reasons for their exits, but there are also solutions at hand. Research shows that principals and teachers cite meaningful PD opportunities as a big reason to stay. And teachers cite the quality of their principal as another. 

So let’s dive in. Our five themes and curated list of resources come highly recommended by leaders and experts across the country. The resources are easily accessible and inspiring enough to support your leadership journey—and the journeys of those around you.


Why celebrating wins leads to more wins

Sometimes pausing to celebrate our successes is one of the leadership actions we overlook. Yet, doing so sets you and your team up for continued success. Research tells us that when we celebrate our accomplishments—even the seemingly insignificant ones—we create the energy and motivation needed to reach our larger goals. 

When we celebrate our accomplishments—even the seemingly insignificant ones—we create the energy and motivation needed to reach our larger goals. 

We’ve got a great lineup of strategies to help you honor your wins and the wins of those around you, plus resources to help translate those ideas into action. Take a peek at The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact by Chip Heath & Dan Heath. 

In this fascinating read, the authors explore what makes certain moments memorable. They describe in detail how positive moments are dominated by four key elements: elevation, insight, pride, and connection. Explore how you can build more moments of positive impact for your students, families, staff—and yourself. 

Or listen in to Jethro Jones’ weekly podcast, The Transformative Principal, and find yourself re-inspired by stories of real wins by real leaders. 

It’s never too late to celebrate and build on your wins. For our full list of leadership actions and resources, visit: How Celebrating Your School's Wins Leads to More Wins

How to cultivate more joy 

Celebrating your school’s wins also adds more joy—and more joy in schools can help support the vision you have for the next school year and any shifts you need to make to achieve it. Whether it’s how to build more inclusive learning environments or the best ways to find your flow, we have plenty of joy-focused suggestions and resources. 

Celebrating your school’s wins also adds more joy—and more joy in schools can help support the vision you have for the next school year and any shifts you need to make to achieve it.

Consider reading Dr. Gholdy Muhammad’s new book, Unearthing Joy: A Guide to Culturally and Historically Responsive Curriculum and Instruction. Dr. Muhammad expands the definition of joy to include wellness, beauty, healing, and justice for one’s self and across humanity. Discover how to find joy at the center of teaching and learning—and why stories matter. 

Another great read, from designer and TED speaker Ingrid Fetell Lee, is Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness. Discover how the environments that surround us at work and in schools can influence our happiness—and what you might want to do differently in your school environment. 

“We did so much disconnecting during the pandemic,” reflects New Leaders alum and principal Clariza Dominicci. “It’s time for us to do more connecting. To celebrate, to dance, to fist bump.” For much more on joy, visit: 5 Ways to Cultivate Joy Next School Year.

Ways to push your school vision forward

A school vision reflects the values a school community collectively holds, what success looks like, and what is most important to focus on. A strong vision statement is what lights the path forward, especially when unexpected things happen. 

Summer is a great time to revisit your vision and take time not only for your own self-reflection, but to gather insights from key stakeholders including students, families, and community members. This kind of alignment across the whole school or district community—and the personal leadership it takes to foster it—have been found to contribute to high-performing schools. The most effective leaders want their values and their actions to match. 

A strong vision statement is what lights the path forward, especially when unexpected things happen. 

We have four questions to support your self-reflection and that of your team. Your collective insights will help guide your next step, along with the resources we recommend. 

  • Are we prioritizing the actions that align with our vision?
  • Who else in our school community should we seek feedback from?
  • How can we communicate our vision better? 
  • Why think about this work right now?

To dig deeper into why a compelling shared vision is a differentiator for successful organizations, read The Leader’s Blueprint for Creating a Compelling Vision and Engaging the Workforce by Bonnie Hagemann, Simon Vetter, and John Maketa. The authors will also walk you through what it takes to be a visionary leader who fuels collective action. 

For more resources, including great podcasts, read our full blog: Four Questions to Step Up Your School Vision for Next Year

How to cultivate resilient teams and mindsets

Resilient leaders demonstrate self-awareness, a commitment to ongoing learning, and resolve in the service of continuous improvement. Resilience is not only an essential trait in leaders, but also in teachers, students, and especially school teams. Research shows that resilient teams are more adaptive, create better efficiencies to support each other, and share a strong sense of cooperation as they navigate adversity together. And, it all starts with mindset.

Resilient teams are more adaptive, create better efficiencies to support each other, and share a strong sense of cooperation as they navigate adversity together.

If you’re looking to bolster your team’s resilience or strengthen your own, we have plenty of resources, strategies and recommended leadership actions to support you. You can start by checking out this website, Resilient Educator, for everything from professional development resources and self-care suggestions to articles that provide a much-needed dose of levity. 

Need something more on-the-go? Listen to this podcast Resilient Leadership Podcast with resilient leadership coaches Bridgette Theurer and Irvine Nugent and discover how to lead with a greater sense of calm, clarity, and conviction. The best part about podcasts is you can listen to them anywhere: on the couch, on your next walk, or driving to school. 

For more valuable insights and strategies, see Cultivating Resilient Mindsets: Five Actions for School Teams

Why building trust leads to more family engagement 

We all know that strong school and family partnerships improve student achievement. They also bolster families, boost teacher and school leader effectiveness, build community, and advance your shared vision. At the center of those leadership actions is trust. Here are four actions you can take to fuel meaningful family relationships:

  • Document your family engagement plan 
  • Prioritize two-way events and communication
  • Actively co-create with families rather than simply seek input 
  • Challenge your own assumptions and biases

If you’re thinking through your long-term strategy for parent and family engagement, take a look at these great reads and listens. 

To access these strategies and take your family engagement to the next level, visit: Building Trust: Four Actions to Elevate Family Engagement  


Looking for more? Check out last summer’s series.

From thought leaders and industry experts you’ll want to follow to TED Talks you just can’t miss, our Restore. Retool. Recommit. Summer 2022  series has even more of what you need. Learn about thought leaders like Henry Turner, a high school principal in Massachusetts who is known for his inclusive leadership style and dedication to student voice and advocacy. He was also nationally recognized as Education Dive’s 2021 K-12 Principal of the Year. 

Or follow Marisol Quevedo Rerucha, a former educator and current nonprofit leader, who advocates for the use of restorative practices in classrooms. Another great source for equity focused leadership is EdPost Podcasts which features teachers, community members, students, and education researchers committed to making quality education accessible to all students. 

How Great Leaders Inspire Action by international thought leader Simon Sinek is equally compelling. You might also consider tried-and-true suggestions for common school challenges in Hacking Education: 10 Quick Fixes for Every School by Mark Barnes and Jennifer Gonzalez. 

Or learn more about the legacy of the educator who founded African-American History Month in Fugitive Pedagogy: Carter G. Woodson and the Art of Black Teaching by Jarvis Givens. 

But why stop there? Our list of professional learning is here for you to restore, retool, and recommit whenever you need to.  


Why now and all year long?

Taking time for professional learning is one of the most important actions any leader and educator can take—and it can be done in easy and sustainable ways. Subscribe to a weekly podcast that broadens your perspective. Read about other industry experts who are natural innovators. Share a TED Talk with your staff that motivates everyone to keep going. 

Taking time for professional learning is one of the most important actions any leader and educator can take—and it can be done in easy and sustainable ways.

This new school year may not seem as unpredictable as the past years have been due to COVID, but there are still plenty of challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. Our Restore. Retool. Recommit. series is here for you every summer—and something you can revisit all year long. 

At New Leaders, we believe leadership is transformational. We also believe children are capable of extraordinary things. Thank you for all you do on behalf of our nation’s students.  

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