Thursday, May 10, 2012

The End of the School Year: Keeping Focus Amidst Change

The end of the school year signals change. Students move on, colleagues retire, new teachers are hired, and there are position and grade changes.

So as we end this year and prepare for the next, we also respond to the changing environment around us.

Nothing stays exactly the same in schools or for that matter in any organization. Change is part of the landscape all year, and it is especially apparent at the end of the school year.

What's the best way to meet this change?

It's best to be honest, positive and transparent with the changes you lead. For example, with my students, I'll talk about the change from fourth to fifth with cheer, "We've had a great year. You've learned a lot, and now you're ready for a new experience so that you can learn more and grow."  With colleagues who are retiring, moving grades or changing positions, I recognize the promise that change can bring, and sometimes the pain that change can cause. I'll try to be compassionate and helpful.

Then there's change outside of your control. With that change, it's important to stay the course and remain true to your professional values and beliefs. When it comes to school life, you can't let those changes get in the way of the primary focus of the work you do--teaching children well.

Change can add complexity to the end of the school year routines, but when possible that complexity can be minimized if change is dictated by clear process and open discussion. And, when that change represents the retirement of dedicated educators and professionals, it's important that we make the time to stop and celebrate a job well done.

Keeping change in perspective will help you to serve children well, and that's our mission as educators.