Welcome to the 2019-20 school year! Whether you’re finishing your preparation for students to return or already a few weeks into instruction, right now is an exciting and busy time. We support over 300,000 students through 500 district partners across the country each year, and we’ve compiled a set of back-to-school tips from our educators we’d like to share:
Welcome educators, students, and visitors to your building
Set the tone for an open, friendly and accepting school culture early on in the year. Greet your teachers, staff members, students and parents each morning as they enter the school. Stand in the halls during transition times. Engage with students during their lunch break and learn their names. In doing so, you become the familiar face that is an integral part of the school community and experience.
Build rapport and trust
Visit classrooms early and often, perhaps during instruction or while students work independently. Check with your teachers to determine the optimal time for you to stop by. Talk with students about what they are learning, what their goals are and what they hope to get out of projects. Learn their strengths and challenges and most importantly, follow-up with them. Get involved by offering your teachers hands-on help as you see fit. Position yourself as a supportive resource to build rapport with your teachers and show continuous appreciation for the impact they have on your school’s students.
Make time each week to debrief with school leadership
Connect school leadership teams to discuss what is happening within their respective schools. Learn about their challenges big and small, and listen to their ideas about what they think might help. Once you start working together to address an issue, gather feedback on progress. Offer assistance to shift direction, if necessary. Celebrate successes by sharing them within the team. This establishes a positive, solution-oriented culture and helps to retain talent.
Attend faculty meetings and engage with teachers
Create an awareness that you’re available to help by interacting with principals, teachers, and staff at their regular meetings. Faculty members are the frontline to students and representatives of your district. They have close ties to a critical stakeholder group – parents. As a leader, position yourself as a support for them and express your acknowledgement of the important role they play in your school community.
Establish your presence and supportive intentions early in the school year, positioning yourself as a partner to other educators. We wish you a fantastic school year ahead full of academic growth for students and professional growth and learning for yourself!