8 Great Ways Administrators Can Prepare for the Fall

An amazing fall starts now with the administrative preparation this summer. Dawn Stansbury discusses eight things administrators need to do this summer and we highlight differences in those items now after the pandemic. This show includes a transcript to use and discuss with beginning or veteran administrators as part of training and discussion.

Advancement Courses sponsored this show. All opinions are my own.

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8 Great Ways Administrators Can Prepare for the Fall – Transcript

VICKI: 00:01 Today's show is an interview on helping administrators get ready for an amazing fall. I'm getting ready for an amazing fall myself by taking my summer accreditation requirements through Advancement Courses. You can take your professional development courses from Advancement Courses and save 20% by using the code COOL20. This show does interview an instructional designer for Advancement Courses, the sponsor of this episode. All opinions are my own. Stay tuned at the end of the show to learn more about Advancement Courses.
BUMPER: 00:32 Welcome to the 10 Minute Teacher podcast hosted by author, educator, speaker, and mom, the Cool Cat Teacher, Vicki Davis.
VICKI: 00:41 So today we're talking with Dawn Stansbury about eight great ways administrators can prepare for the fall. When we say fall, we're talking Fall 2021, which is a little bit different than previous falls, isn't it, Dawn?
DAWN 00:56 Yeah. Yeah, it definitely is.
VICKI: 00:59 So how do we start?
DAWN 01:00

1 – Reflect and Set Goals

So I think some of the things that you can do throughout the summer. First of all, the summer is a great time to be able to prepare for fall. It's pretty quiet generally and you're able to get a lot done. You're able to concentrate on what you might want to do.

Kind of reflecting on the previous school year, but then looking forward to the fall, to everybody coming back and having a fresh start and going through another school year.

And one of the things that I always liked to start with when I was an administrator is goal setting. And so, it would be personal goal setting for myself, what I wanted to accomplish, how I wanted to grow as an administrator, but also how I wanted the teachers to grow and how I wanted to be able to support them, how we wanted the kids to be able to grow. And then also how was I going to work on goal setting and guidance for the teachers and for the students and also working with parents in helping the students to meet their goals as well.

VICKI: 01:58 Do you have a number of goals that you pick? Because I've had times where I picked 20 goals and got none of them done, and I try to keep it to 3. Do you have kind of a magic number you like?
DAWN 02:09 That's exactly what I would say is three. And the great thing about goals is that if you meet them and you want to add more, you can certainly do that.

But often when you have too many goals, it's overwhelming and you feel as if you're never going to be able to get any of them done. You keep it small, you have more of a chance of meeting those goals and you will be more successful in the long run.

VICKI: 02:30 Excellent. Okay. So what's your second?
DAWN 02:32

2 – Prepare Materials and Curriculum for Teachers

So the second one, this was something that I always– I enjoyed doing it throughout the summer and I know that my teachers appreciated if I was prepared and that's materials and curriculum. And it doesn't matter whether you're getting new curriculum and materials or whether you are just relying on the ones that you had the previous year or if you had them for several years. Materials and curriculum is such an important thing. You want to make sure that your teachers are set up for success the first day that they come back. 

Now, if it's new materials, you want to make sure that all the teachers have exactly what they need. So for instance, if you've had a textbook adoption and you've got different books that you need to make sure are out in classrooms, that's something that's really important. 

The other thing that is really important and I always found helpful for myself and for my teachers is if we were getting new materials, that I understood what the materials were and how they were supposed to use them. 

Often when you have a textbook adoption, you would have some trainers come in and they would teach you what all of these different materials are. But it's always good for your administrator or your leader or your instructional coaches to have a really good understanding of what those things look like so that we know, first of all, how to answer questions when they come up, but also how to assist teachers in asking questions of those trainers or just even parents or students so that we can all work together. 

So I always felt that materials and curriculum preparation and distribution was an important piece.

VICKI: 04:03 And now that we have e-books, I'm going to add this because we had a lot of e-books in the fall. Because of COVID-19, we did not want to have a lot of paper materials, and I created a checklist for my students to audit and make sure that all of the students can access the textbook because that can be a real issue as you go to e-books. 

So we'll add that one on top of it because that's from our very recent experience that I had never had so many e-books implemented and that was helpful. So what's our third?

DAWN 04:29

3 – Finalize Schedules for Teachers as Soon as Possible

So the third one, and I think this is one that no matter what grade you teach, no matter what age group of students, no matter who you are in a building – whether you're support staff, custodian, teachers, librarians, whatever – schedules. Schedules are such an important thing. And it doesn't matter what you're talking about.

It could be a recess schedule, bus schedule, lunch schedule, special schedules. In middle school and high school, it could be class schedules. Schedules are such a crucial thing. 

Nothing runs throughout a day without a schedule, and schedules can be kind of tricky. But it is such an important piece, and it's always, always the first thing that teachers ask for even before they come back in August or in September. They always want their schedule so that they can start thinking about what they're teaching and what their days are going to look like.

VICKI: 05:20 And I would add a new kind of schedule. And this, again, sort of happened in COVID-19 because the number of kids you have in the bathroom has to be limited. So going through and making actually a schedule for when particular classes are taking breaks and would be expected to have access to the restroom facilities, I think is a new piece to that schedule that kind of impacts everything else, doesn't it?
DAWN 05:43 That's a great point. Absolutely.
VICKI: 05:45 Yeah. So these are all important things. And then we're kind of tweaking them because some things are just a little bit different. So what's our fourth?
DAWN 05:54

4 – Repairs and Deep Cleaning

Well, and my fourth one, you probably will be able to give a lot of input on this one. And this one I know has been very much impacted over the last year and that's facilities. So there's a lot that goes into running a school or running a building. And people don't think about the repairs necessarily or the maintenance work or cleaning. 

Well, we know over the course of the last year what cleaning has been like with COVID-19. So summertime is such an important time for the maintenance workers, for the custodians, to get in there and do things even if it's a brand new building. When I had a brand new building, the first summer after we had been in there for one year, we had a lot of different repairs

And so, it doesn't matter how new the building is, those are things that have to be considered and deep cleaning. And again, like I said, with COVID-19, that's probably more important now than it has ever been.

VICKI: 06:50 Yes. Our blessed maintenance and facilities folks. They really have done so much for us. We're thankful for that. So what's our fifth?
DAWN 06:58

5 – Hiring and Helping New Teachers Succeed

So the fifth one is another one that is really important, and it really impacts new teachers, and that's new faculty. So the first part of new faculty, obviously, is hiring and making sure that you get the right candidates into those positions. 

And then after that happens, licensure is a big thing. It can be a big thing. Maybe not for all positions, but for those harder to fill positions, for those positions that may not have a lot of candidates. Sometimes you might have to go with a candidate on a conditional license. And so guiding those new teachers through that process is really important. They don't necessarily know how to navigate that process. They don't know who to contact. So that's a really important thing, is to make sure that you're assisting somebody with licensure and who to contact if they need that. 

Orientation is a big thing too. When you start at a school– if you've been in a school for a long time, you forget. You just automatically know where the teachers' lounge is or where the restroom is or the mailboxes or any of that sort of stuff. And so, really orienting that new faculty member so that they're not distracted by those types of things so that they can really focus on honing their skills and learning their students and the curriculum and all of that stuff rather than getting hung up on kind of the housekeeping type of things. 

And another piece would be setting up a good mentor. And I've found over the years that a good mentor isn't necessarily somebody at that same grade level or somebody at that same specialty area, but somebody that maybe has a similar schedule so they would have planning times to work with. Somebody that they have a similar personality with. Somebody that gives good feedback to them. Somebody that would be a good go-to for them. So setting up a mentor is really important to that new faculty member's success. 

And then again, kind of going back to the materials, making sure they have the furniture that they need, the materials, the curriculum, all of that kind of stuff so that they are able to hit the ground running that first day and be successful.

VICKI: 08:59 Well, and this happens in all schools, not just when a teacher leaves. It's like field day on taking all the stuff in the room and then leaving the stuff people don't want. So a lot of times new teachers start and don’t necessarily have high-quality things in their classroom. 

The first time I started teaching I went in, and the desk was so terrible I ended up buying my own desk. And just taking care of those details. 

And, yeah, the other thing that I would just mention as we have our orientation, is to remember security issues from an IT perspective because, for example, phishing is becoming such a problem, P-H-I-S-H-I-N-G, and ransomware for schools and you're only as strong as the weakest link. So the phishing attacks, the spearfishing attacks, that come to schools are very different than those in business. And I've found when people move from a different profession, this is especially important as well as all these things because there are so many things that we need to orient them on. 

Okay. So that's fantastic. Okay. What's our sixth?

DAWN 09:55

6 – Communicate with and Include Support Staff

So the sixth one, of course, is you also not have to just take care of the new staff that's coming in but you want to make sure that you're supporting your existing staff too. They've been there for you. They take care of the students. They take care of one another. They take care of you as an administrator. 

So one of the important things is to make sure that as you are putting together communication for the school year to start or communication over the summer don't forget your support staff. You don't want to just focus on the teachers because the school would not function without that support staff. Some of the most important people in my life were my custodians and my office staff, the paraeducators, the librarians because they make it work. They make it function. They are so crucial to the student success and to the success of the building. And especially if you're getting new support staff for the following school year, make sure that they understand where they're to report on that first day. 

Make sure that they understand when they are supposed to report and what their hours are. Make sure that you have explained to them their job duties and any changes. Sometimes paraprofessionals will kind of move from room to room as their profession goes on. They will maybe be in a kindergarten room one year and then the next year they'll need to be in a fourth-grade room or something like that. So make sure that as they come in and come back to school that they understand what it is that they're being expected to do and how it might have changed from the previous year.

VICKI: 11:22 That's such great advice as well as when you do this to make sure all those mailing lists are updated because sometimes paraprofessionals can get lost in the shuffle from an administrative side, for folks. Okay, what's our seventh?
DAWN 11:34

7 – Support Parents

Okay, so the seventh one and this is another one that people don't always automatically think about but parent support. So we wouldn't have these kids without their parents. And so, make sure that you are putting together some very clear communication for the parents. Make sure that they understand what summer programs maybe even are out there for their students, but how the next school year is going to start. 

So ensure that school supply lists are up to date and that they're distributed throughout the community or online however it is that you might be getting those to parents. If you email them out, great. If you send them out in the US Postal mail, that's great too. Often I know that they are at stores where they might go shopping for those school supplies. I know there are some schools that even have the ability for parents to order their school supplies, so they don't have to go shopping for them. They get delivered directly to the school. So make sure that parents understand what their options are for school supplies and what they need to have in order for their kids to be successful. 

Another thing that's always important to parents is who are their students going to have for their teachers next year. And probably not as much at the middle school and high school level but at elementary certainly they want to know who their teachers are. They want to know about their teachers. So sometimes you might even– if you have time, it's a good idea to send out a bio about those teachers that the students are going to have so that the parents go in understanding who that teacher is. You got to think about it. They're leaving their child with somebody they don't even know all day long. And so, for them to have an idea of that teacher's experience and how long they've been at that particular building or what different grades they've taught, it's kind of nice for them to know. And include a picture because it would be nice to know what they look like too, so they have a face to a name. 

Registration is another thing. Make sure that parents know, if it's online registration, when they can begin registering, when the deadline is to have that registration done, any documents that they need to provide to the school. Those are all important things.

VICKI: 13:36 Yes because kids who show up– every school has it, kids who show up the first day that aren't registered and then they don't have a schedule and have those things. So just being proactive on that is so helpful. Okay. So what's our last one?
DAWN 13:50

8 – Create Fun, Excitement, and Celebration As You Start the School Year

So the last one, and this is an important one too. You want to make sure that you are creating some fun and excitement. There are not a lot of jobs out there where you get to start fresh in the fall. And that's the great thing about education and being an educator, is that everything starts fresh in the fall. You get new students. There are new supplies. They've got a new pair of tennis shoes, new clothes on, new backpacks. It's so much fun. 

And every year, that new year holds a new promise. And so, enjoy that. And enjoy it and celebrate it with your staff. Enjoy it and celebrate it with the students, with the parents. Get in on that fun and really have a good time with it because it is unlike any other profession out there.

VICKI: 14:39 I love that. My headmaster has a fun committee that he's had for the last two or three years, and it really does make life more fun to have that for both students and faculty. So we have eight great ways administrators can prepare for the fall. And a lot of these are things on typical administrators' list, but do you think – it's this last question – Dawn, that we kind of have to look down this list of eight things and then say, “How has our new awareness as a result of the pandemic changed these things”? 

Even, for example, as you think about registration, a lot of kids are coming in with emotional baggage, and how are we making sure they have at least one teacher that they're closely connected with so that communication can happen? 

I mean, don't you think that it would be good to take all these things and think through them and say, “Okay, what's different”?

DAWN 15:30 Absolutely do. And it depends on where you're at in the country too. Some states weren't closed down very long. Some states never went back to being in an actual classroom. 

And so, it definitely is something that you need to consider where you're at, consider what your student population is, who your teachers are. And as I was going through that list, it looks very different now than it did two years ago. So it's definitely something that is going to take some different consideration, and we've learned a lot in the last year and a half. We just have to use that to tweak what we need to do in order to make it a great school year.

VICKI: 16:09 Excellent. So eight great ways administrators can prepare for the fall, and these are some great ideas. Dawn is an instructional designer for Advancement Courses who has sponsored this episode, and a lot of these feed into some of the courses you've created, don't they, Dawn?
DAWN 16:27 They absolutely do, yes.
VICKI: 16:29 So what are your favorite courses for administrators?
DAWN 16:31 There's a recruitment course that is really great. There's another course that will walk either a current administrator or a potential administrator, future administrator, through the school year. So we've got some great leadership courses out there that we can certainly guide you towards if you're interested in learning more about those.
VICKI: 16:54 Okay. Well, thank you, Dawn.
DAWN 16:56 Thank you.
VICKI: 16:58 Thank you Advancement Courses for sponsoring this show. In case you haven't heard let me tell you about Advancement Courses. You can choose from over 280 online graduate-level PD courses in 20 subject areas that are self-paced with up to six months to complete. Go to advancementcourses.com/coolcat and save 20% off each course by using the code COOL20. That's just $120 per graduate credit hour or $160 for 50 clock hours. You can also receive graduate credit through CAEP and regionally accredited university partners for continuing education requirements. Thanks, Advancement Courses for sponsoring today's show. Never stop learning.
POSTROLL: 17:40 If you enjoyed today's 10 Minute Teacher podcast, why not subscribe on iTunes. You can also catch up with Vicki on Twitter at Cool Cat Teacher or level up and learn with her blogs and free resources at coolcatteacher.com. Thanks for listening.

Helpful Courses for Administrators

Dawn Stansbury – Bio As Submitted

dawn stansburyI am currently working as an Instructional Designer for Advancement Courses, A Wiley Brand. I hold a Bachelors Degree in Elementary Education, earned at Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa. My Masters Degree was earned at the University of South Dakota in the area of Educational Administration.

During my years of working in elementary education, I spent time as a classroom teacher as well as a school leader, all with the Sioux City Community School District in Sioux City, Iowa. I enjoyed teaching for six years in grades 2-5 as well as working as a reading specialist. Although I loved teaching children, I spent the next thirteen years of my career as the elementary principal of a K-5 school. During my time as an elementary principal, I led my building of 700 students and 80 staff members to becoming one of the first elementary STEM schools in the state of Iowa, offering many specialized programs to our students. As a STEM school, we were proud to have the 2017 Northwest Iowa STEM Teacher of the Year, as well as a state of Iowa Teacher of the Year top five finalist.

I am passionate about offering educational opportunities to students and educators alike, realizing that the stronger teachers are, the better the learning opportunities for students. When we offer current and impactful learning to teachers, our students, families, and communities’ benefit. As an educational leader, I recognize that it is impossible for administrators to be all-knowing on all aspects of education. Advancement Courses offers valuable resources to educational leaders so that they can best meet the needs of their teachers and allowing those teachers to best meet the needs of their students. I am proud to be a part of providing these resources to the world of education so that we can more efficiently and appropriately differentiate the ways in which our educators are learning.

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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