Using The Holiday Break To Catch Up
Things may feel a bit like a cross between a zombie film and Groundhog Day these days, but soon enough everyone in the education sector will have a well-deserved chance to take a breather. We’ve reached December of 2020 – a year that has felt longer than the laws of physics allow – and the first long holiday break of the school year is finally here. All jokes aside, we know this has been an incredibly trying year and the hard work of dedicated administrators, teachers, and other school staff has made the difference for countless students, parents, and colleagues. But there’s no complete rest for the weary, and the Holiday Break provides the ideal opportunity to take stock of the year so far and to catch up.
Here are our top 5 suggestions for administrators during this period.
#1 Check in on (or start) budget planning
With the abrupt move to survival mode last March, your district might have sidelined the finer details of the 2021-2022 budget planning. Rather than looking far ahead, districts have been using Cares funding to purchase thousands of devices, PPE, tents, sanitizers, and other Covid-19 necessities. The “normal” budget items now need to be reprioritized. Depending on the district or state, funding may very well be at 0% for the next year as a result of the pandemic. And the reality is that administrators need to start planning for what that will look like, even if they don’t what the wider situation will be.
#2 Focus on students that may be falling behind
It’s unfortunately true but despite all other efforts so far there are still students out there that are unplugged — physically, mentally, or both. At this point, there are probably enough factors with the ongoing situation that it’s going to take even more, and new, efforts. It’s important to find the root causes and get families engaged. Maybe you’ve tried personalized calls or even home visits over the past months — if not, now is the time to start and if so, continue to engage. Make real connections and use community and district support tools to give these students the best shot at a fresh start after the break. Start brainstorming new possible interventions and supports that can be put into place for the new year.
#3 Check up on curriculum
Schools at the 6-12 level should task curriculum leaders to report on current pacing before the break compared with where “normal” would have been. If schools are K-5, without curriculum leaders, or otherwise responsible themselves they’ll need to come up with a plan for their own mapping — where is each subject in each grade level — and compare. Even if no one is expecting the curriculum to be covered with the exact same fidelity it doesn’t mean that schools can’t strive to be better. There’s blaming the pandemic and there’s blaming the pandemic. Compare progress with the priority standard guidelines released by states and make a plan to regroup, if necessary.
#4 Catch up on paperwork
If your building has been getting by its likely because staff has been pretty healthy and administrators have still been covering classes. There’s definitely paperwork that has fallen through the cracks a bit. There are observations to write up, PPT/504 meetings to reschedule — there’s probably plenty. This holiday break is a perfect time to double-check and reevaluate. If you want another suggestion, see if we at Script can help. Our digital solutions are designed from the ground up to move districts past paperwork. We also make it a whole lot easier to keep track of things. Another great way to start 2021.
#5 Decompress a bit
There is a lot of work to be done, and there will be a lot more even at the end of this. But there’s no substitution for the refresh a break can give. Take some time during the holiday break and unplug. Teachers are burnt out and it’s important to take care of them. Even some admin are quietly burning out. They may still be smiling and motivating but they’re running on steam. They’ve planned through myriad and multiple scenarios, they’ve supported exhausted teachers implementing entirely new learning, played Stratego trying to keep buildings open, tracked down and contacted Covid close-contacts (especially lately), it’s no exaggeration to say it’s been nonstop since March. So we think they deserve to rest, see family (safely, maybe remotely), and recoup at least a bit. Have to make sure that smile is still there in January.
Big thanks to the hard-working administrators from us here at Script. Wishing you all safe and happy holidays!