How K-12 Leaders Can Prepare for Next Year, Now

Spring is here (or around the corner!), and schools and districts need to end strong and prepare for next year. Here are best practices to manage and lead both successfully.
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3/7/24
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This time of year can be a mix of excitement and fatigue as we round the corner into spring. School and district leaders want to maintain a strong focus on teaching and learning at the same time they embark on strategic planning for the next school year. It can feel like a juggling act, and one with too many balls that simply cannot be dropped.

Many K-12 leaders describe their work as “unpredictable” and “rewarding.” You have to be adaptive and nimble in response to challenges and strategic and focused to advance your top priorities. Your day-to-day definitely builds your resilience, and how you spend your time often communicates what you value most. Now is the time to set yourself up for success for the end of this school year and the start of the next. 

Want to finish the year strong? We have everything you need to get you there. Here are five of our most popular blogs with actionable guidance and helpful tips. 

How to make the most of your time

Everyone can use a few more minutes or hours in their day—and we know that’s especially true for school and district leaders. We’ve put together a list of our top tips to make the most of your time. The strategies below might not be new to you, and that’s by design. Think of them as a reminder that there are consistent and creative ways to reclaim more of your precious hours:

  • Establish clear priorities
  • Begin with the hardest task first
  • Consider the opportunity cost
  • Create a “no rubric”
  • Block out your time
  • Find your flow 

Read more here: 6 Time Management Tips Every K-12 Leader Should Know 

How to stop burnout before it begins

As a school leader, there’s a lot on your plate. When that pressure spills over, it can lead to burnout, affecting not just your own performance and mental health, but that of your team and broader school community. Here are four proactive strategies to help:

  • Share the load with distributed leadership
  • Focus on building resilience
  • Reconnect with your “why”
  • Stay connected to your network

Keep reading: Effective Strategies to Avoid School Leader Burnout

How to get a running start on next school year

As school leaders, we tend to take the long view when it comes to planning. But a shift to short-cycle planning can jumpstart your staff and remedy some of the gaps found in year-long plans. Instead of planning for the whole school year, short-cycle planning works through the duration of a semester or a few months. This approach prioritizes change by separating it into manageable pieces. Leaders and staff choose a few key areas to work on, and the plan becomes a living, breathing document that informs your day-to-day work. 

Read more about the benefits: Three Ways to Get a Running Start on Next School Year

How to set a path forward with your strategic district plan 

A school district’s strategic plan is a living, breathing entity: a compass that guides you and your school leaders through purposeful, continuous improvement. The clearer this roadmap is, the more confident you can be that your district’s future path is the right one. Consider these questions as part of your planning this year:

  • Where are we right now?
  • Do we want to lead the process ourselves or participate in it?
  • How can we center equity of voice in our strategic planning process?
  • Does everyone see themselves in our district’s vision?

For more guidance: Strategic District Planning: 4 Questions to Guide Your Success

How to actively listen to your community to build for next year

All year long you have been building and sustaining relationships, and this time of year it is critical to continue listening to your community so you can end the year strong. And, you can lay the groundwork for the key action steps, school improvement or strategic plan, and professional development opportunities that will propel your school forward. Discover new strategies to engage your teachers, find new avenues for student voices, and listen to your families.

Read more: How School Leaders Can Finish the Year Strong and Build for Next Year

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