by Dr. Christina M. Macalino, August 2021

As a  fellow k12 administrator, you are quite familiar with the 30+ item checklist you must plan and execute to open up the new school year. These tasks and events include the week leading up to the first day of school, the first day of school, and the first 15 days of school. 

The Four Rs: Reflect, Review, Relearn & Restart

But as we all know, this school-year opening is not your typical school-year opening. It does not matter if you are a first-year VP/AP/principal or 15+ year VP/AP/principal, this school-opening is ALL administrators’ year one. So as you are preparing for this epic school opening, take mindful, intentional moments to Reflect, Review, Relearn & Restart

Reflect 

Take the time to reflect on what happened to you personally and professionally. A lot has happened this past 1.5 years (and is still going on), so think about your trials and tribulations and what you have learned about yourself. Reflect on your identity, values, biases, and microaggressions – anything that positively and negatively impacts your performance as a school administrator, as an educator. 

Review

As mentioned above, we have not been in full in-person learning since March 2020 or 1.5 years, so we must take the time to review with staff and students the school expectations and day-to-day processes and protocols. In other words, review what it means and looks like to be an in-person student and staff member. Let’s not make any assumptions that we can all bounce back to “the way things were” pre-COVID. 

Relearn & Restart

In addition to reflecting and reviewing our school initiatives, processes, and protocols, we must assess each one. Are our school initiatives, processes, and protocols current, relevant, equitable, and viable? If not, are you going to modify, edit, delete and start all over when redesigning the initiative, process, or protocol? Or, did you realize that you don’t have an accountable or equitable process/protocol in place that supports the implementation of a school initiative? Thus, how are you going to design and organize one? In summary, it is okay to start fresh. We should not continue to do things because “it’s school tradition” or “what this school has done in the past.” We, as administrators, should only continue something if it truly benefits our students and staff, but ultimately our students. 

Be Gentle, Be Flexible, Be Kind, Be Understanding

As administrators, we must accept the fact that this opening school year is not going to be smooth sailing (but are opening school years ever smooth sailing even pre-COVID?). Let’s not be so hard and critical of ourselves. This opening year is a new experience for everyone – administrators, school staff, students, parents, and all school stakeholders. Thus, be gentle, be flexible, be kind, and be understanding towards yourself, your staff, your students, your parents, and all your community stakeholders. 

Congratulations on this new school year! We, Elin and Christina, are sending positive and vibes to our fellow school leaders during this trying and exciting time. 

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