As a principal, the count down to the last day of school had much less meaning. Although I kept a checklist of events in my head and ticked them off as they were completed, I knew that a good bulk of my work for the next school year was going to be completed AFTER the teachers left the building for the summer! I reveled in that quiet time when no one was in the building and the only distractions were my own. Finally, a time to self-reflect and consider, “What went well? What goals did I accomplish? What impact did I have as a leader in my school? What did I need to change and consider for improvement for the next school year?”
As I learn more about being a “Mindful Leader,” it is helpful to build these reflection times into the school year in a more intentional fashion and not wait until the end of the year to do it all! No matter, the end of the year creates a great opportunity to self-reflect and celebrate all that was accomplished in the last school year and to determine all we want to do to improve our leadership for the next school year.
This spring, Barb Elson, former Farmington principal and now Nationally Certified Principal Mentor and I were planning for our Aspiring Principals workshop. She shared a document that she had received at an aspiring principals workshop. The document is sourced to Gary Phillips from The Center of Improving School Culture. I have tweaked it somewhat for your use as a self-reflection tool to guide your thinking for next year. Here it is:
LEADERSHIP QUESTIONS THAT FACILITATE CHANGE FOR ADMINISTRATORS
As good as you are at what you do, how can you become better?
2. Quality of Life
How can you find the job of the principal more enjoyable and rewarding?
3. Pursuit of Excellence
What is it you do better than most other administrators?
4. Leave a Legacy
What is the legacy you will leave with all learners for a lifetime? What will your teachers next year remember for the rest of their lives about your school? Are you willing to offer a warranty? If so, will it be a lifetime warranty or a limited lifetime warranty?
5. Personal Improvement
If next year were to be your best year, how would you know? What could you do? Who could help?
These questions were originally intended to be reflected on by teacher-leaders. I changed the questions above to relate to principals. The original questions by Phillips are in a document that would be a great reflective sheet to provide your teachers before school begins in the fall! Leadership Questions That Facilitate Change for Teachers
In the book Intentional Interruption: Breaking Down Learning Barriers to Transform Professional Practice by Katz and Dack, it is stated “Learning is a permanent change in thinking and behavior.” As we reflect on this past school year, it is important that we consider what we DID learn? What was the permanent change in our thinking and behavior? What did we learn about ourselves? Our school? Our school culture? Our school climate? Our leadership? What shift or change in our thinking and behavior will we focus on for the next school year?
A nice Closing Reflection Protocol that I have used in sessions in the past uses the prompts I used to think . . . Now I think . . . I used to do . . . But now I will do . . . What if you used this prompt for each reflective learning piece? About our school I used to think . . . Now I think . . . At our school I used to do . . . But now I will do . . . As I reflect on my personal self and leadership style, I used to think . . . Now I think . . . I used to lead with . . . But now I will lead with. . . You get the point, this reflection quadrant can help reveal your own learning, your own permanent change in thinking and behavior and give you some thoughtful reflection about what your next steps might be for yourself, your teachers and staff, and your school. What is the legacy you will leave all learners for a lifetime? Are you willing to offer a warranty?