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July 8, 2020

Planning Ahead Even When EVERYTHING is Uncertain: Diana’s Calendar

I have known Diana A. from FirstLine Schools for over a decade, so you can imagine my excitement when I got a peek at her school calendar for next year. Talk about some serious Comprehensive Calendar + Meeting Matrix hybridization:

Click to enlarge.

Of course, my FIRST question for Diana was about HOW on earth she could even plan ahead right now. She told me:

Everything is subject to change, indeed! But to prepare for the new school year, I needed to first plan for a ‘normal’ year. When we finally have a sense of what’s to come, I will tweak these foundational plans. For example, I know it’s a possibility that Open House will not happen this year, but we will still want to do something that drives toward similar parent engagement goals. Lastly, the simple process of doing this was therapeutic during a time of constant flux. This tool will allow me to rest assured that I do not have to rely upon my memory for so much.

I then had a ton of questions for her about what led her to finally create this – in her 11th year as a principal. Diana gave an expert description of the perfect storm that is school administration:

  • I know I need to calendar the state testing window and reserve the PD days leading up to this.
  • But I also need to stop getting surprised by Teacher Appreciation Week in the week after.
  • Which is also the same week we have to begin giving end of year assessments in K-2.
  • This is also the same time I need to be sure my leaders are keeping a pulse on whether teachers have been entering a sufficient number of assessments and grades each week because report cards with comments will be due 2 weeks later.
  • Additionally, this is the time when I need various people on my leadership team to update me on their project plans for Kindergarten & 8th grade promotions.
  • AND we prep for our annual Atlanta trip that our 7th & 8th graders take the last week of school.
  • Last but not least, because I have a new school operations manager, I want to be sure we remember to attend to small details, like sending home family flyers and newsletters in a timely fashion.

Diana plans to use this calendar as a managerial tool. She expects her team to reference it in preparation for weekly check-ins and to anticipate what’s ahead so they can align ahead of time on vision and planning tasks. With more proactive structures like these in place, she also avoids micromanaging and reactivity. Her team will also offer feedback on the tool itself and help her identify what’s missing.

I love how Diana took the time to plan ahead – even in a time of extreme uncertainty – and in turn, also created a way to manage her team positively and proactively. How are YOU planning ahead for the upcoming school year, however you can?

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