It’s been a great year. You have just conducted some professional development trainings for the group of teachers you are coaching. You got the opportunity to visit their classrooms and see them in action, do formal and informal CLASS observations, and had countless coaching conversations. You see that it’s all beginning to click. You have the teachers’ buy-in, and the motivation is high.
Just then you realize that you are nearing the end of May, the school year is just about over, and summer vacation is just around the corner. You think to yourself, “But wait, how am I going to keep this momentum going with such a long break?” Summer is a time to relax and unwind, but it can also be a momentum killer. But does it have to be? Let’s look at some strategies you can use to help your teachers, and yourself, keep the momentum going.
Take the time to reflect on the successes that you and your teachers had this year, and encourage them to do the same. Overlooking the short-term successes because you’re looking at the mid-term or long-term horizon is an easy trap to fall into. No matter how small you think they are, it’s important to recognize the positives. When I was coaching, I used to check in with my teachers early on in the summer months, when they were just starting to relax and unwind and let them know how proud I was of the hard work they had put in. I would then encourage them to make a list of their accomplishments to share with me. It was a nice way of saying, “I know that you worked hard and this work is not easy, but you did it!” Who doesn’t love having someone recognize their efforts?
It’s easy to lose the momentum when you are not in contact with your teachers. It’s important to let them know that just because it is the summer and they are not in the classroom, that doesn’t mean that they have to lose all contact with you or other colleagues. One great way to do this is to invite them to join The CLASS Community. By doing so, they can continue to take part in discussions, get new ideas, or just bond with other like professionals. We all know that raising children, whether at home or school, takes a village. The CLASS Community is your village, so feel free to use it to network and stay in contact even when you have a break from teaching and coaching.
Summer is always a time for me to gather new ideas for the upcoming school year. What worked and should be kept in my practice? What do I think can be done differently, and I want to tweak? Since the school year always seems to be such a busy time, and I don’t get to read as much as I want, I take the extra time that I have during the summer months to read and write down ideas and strategies that I want to try out going forward. There is a wealth of knowledge at your fingertips with the Teachstone blog. Whether you are a classroom teacher, a coach, an administrator, or a director, there is something for everyone.
Something started the momentum you are experiencing. While you may not be able to recapture what created the initial buzz completely, you can facilitate events that will remind your teachers of what got them here. Holding outings, retreats, training sessions, and team-building exercises on a regular basis will rekindle the original vision and purpose of the work, helping further a sense of excitement and keep your pace.
Perhaps the easiest thing to do to maintain momentum for you and your teachers is to keep raising the bar. Setting new goals to replace an accomplished goal before a big break will consistently keep you moving full steam ahead. Keep the new goals attainable and in line with what got you started—and make sure they fit in with the overall vision you have already created. For example, during the previous school year you and your teachers tackled Behavior Management, which we all know is a big one, so maybe this year you want to move on to Concept Development.
These are just a few of the strategies that you can use to keep the momentum going over the summer or any other long break away from school. What other ideas can you share to keep it going?
The violence of the past days has reminded us all that we must be vigilant in denouncing hate and speaking out against it. I encourage everyone who cares about our courageous country and experiment in democracy to get out and vote on November 6th! Paraphrasing from an editorial in the Hartford Courant today, the strength of our united character is being put to the test. We must speak up, and no better way to do so than voting or encouraging others to do so. Truly great educators are those who never give up. I am not ready to give up on our country as a land that holds such great promise of freedom and justice for all, beginning with our youngest ones who cannot vote but will live in the world we are creating with every action or inaction.
Take heart! For too long, one of the least heartening perspectives on the federal government budget came from early childhood education advocates, who, year in and year out, felt left out of the political dialogue during budget talks. They were either ignored or, worse, the recipients of unwanted attention as federal spending on education was slashed or level-funded as costs increased. However, during a time when we see much division in our country, especially coming out of Washington, D.C., it actually is a bit –just a bit – encouraging to look at early childhood education programs which are garnering more and more bipartisan support.
The statistics around exclusionary discipline practices, like suspension or expulsion, are grim. Kids who get kicked out, especially repeatedly, are often already behind academically, become less engaged in school, and are monumentally more likely to drop out of high school. And while exclusionary discipline affects all students, it’s essential to keep in mind that children of color are suspended and expelled at rates disproportionate to their white peers.