Surviving the Start of School

Photo by Oleksandr Pidvalnyi on

Surviving the start of school as an educator can be both challenging and exciting. Surviving the start of school as an EdTech leader is no different. There are some things that you can do to make surviving a bit easier, and may actually help you transition into thriving during this time of the year. I’m not here to tell you that I have it all figured out; I clearly don’t. I do, however, have some key strategies that work for me that I’m willing to share with the masses.

Start Planning Early

There is no way that you can be prepared for the start of school if you don’t start planning early. If you start school in August, like we do here in Texas, and you wait until July to plan for it, I hate to tell you this, but you’ve already set yourself up for failure. With the myriad of digital tools and resources that are in use in today’s schools, you have to start planning early enough to account to for the inevitable hiccups that will find their way into your timeline. I typically begin planning for August sometime in March or April, depending on the year. This current school year, August marked the launch of our new learning management system (LMS), so that meant my planning had to begin even earlier.

Consider the Bigger Picture

There are so many facets of a strong start to the year. Even your best laid plans will fail if you don’t consider how all of those pieces impact the bigger picture. For example, the implementation for our new learning management system (LMS) has been at the forefront of most of the work that I do. But that doesn’t mean that could solely focus on that work. I’ve had vacancies (and anticipated vacancies) at multiple levels that I knew would have to been filled. Our virtual school program is undergoing some re-alignment. Our campus support model has expanded to include our elementary campuses. We are actively supporting our peer in curriculum & instruction with the transition to our new LMS. Our district and campus leaders also need training and support in multiple areas. That’s quite a few “spinning plates” and I’ve only included the biggest, most pressing items.

Be Intentional with Your Daily Work

One of Steven Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is to begin with the end in mind. My planning had to take all of the factors I mentioned earlier into consideration. Here’s some ways I worked to interweave all of these aspects into my daily work. Without providing an exhaustive list, here’s some quick examples:

  1. I’ve began sketching out ideas & plans for pre-service training with my campus support team in March.
  2. I planned and prepared to lead & support the transfer of our curriculum into the new LMS weekly, beginning in April, and worked closely with my direct supervisor on a plan that would meet the needs of all of our C&I departments.
  3. When filling vacancies, I included interview questions that would showcase applicants ability to immediately fill the needs of the department, take on leadership responsibilities, replicate their success in prior positions, and support the vision that I have for our EdTech department.

Celebrate the Wins

All work and no play is….well it’s just boring. No one that I’ve ever met can continuously give 100% at work without seeing the fruits of their labor. When you do notice the fruits of your labor, take time to celebrate them! One of my favorite highlights of this is something that I shared on Twitter in early August. The transition to this new LMS has been a labor of love, and checklist of things to be done often seemed like it was getting longer instead of shorter. In the clip shared, you see me celebrating the simple act of crossing the last major indicator of readiness off of the giant chart paper that had been hanging in my office all summer. What seemed small to some, was the result of countless hours of work, and celebrating that was an important moment for me. So important, in fact, that a team member chose to capture it on video.

Putting it All Together

The four (4) items listed above are not rocket science, but when implemented with fidelity, they have the ability to transform your experiences for the better. I encourage you to try them out for yourself. Even if they don’t meet the needs of your unique workflow, you will at least have an experience that you can use for reflection, refinement, and growth. The most important thing that you can do is find something that works for you! Wishing you all of the success possible in this upcoming school year!

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