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Many schools have formal checklists for finishing the school year. These tasks are, appropriately, designed to ensure an orderly close-out to the year, and they are often heavily weighted toward logistical and procedural tasks. As examples, most end-of-year checklists include items such as putting away materials and equipment, completing maintenance and repair requests, and finishing any remaining storage and inventory tasks. Our completion of these and similar tasks will make it easier for maintenance, purchasing, and other staff to complete their work over the summer.

However, these are not the only important steps we need to consider as we wrap up another year. Often, there are things not yet said that should be said, steps not taken that need to be taken, and commitments not made that deserve our attention and action before we leave. They may not be on the formal checkout list, yet they can be even more important those tasks that are. Here are six steps that can make the summer better—and the fall worthy of anticipation.  

First, if you have a lingering conflict, disagreement, or other unfinished business, tend to it now. If you need to apologize or make things right with a colleague, student, parent, or other person, don’t leave it for later. We cannot know what the summer will bring. There may not be another opportunity, and carrying an unnecessary emotional burden can drain the very energy you need to be replenishing. 

Second, if there is someone you need to thank, someone whose support needs to be recognized, or appreciation that needs to be shared, do it now. What you have to say may be exactly what they need to hear. There may never be a time when what you have to say will mean more. The longer you wait, the less weight your words are likely to carry. 

Third, if you are part of a team, schedule time to meet before everyone scatters for the summer. Now is a good time to create an initial plan and list of priorities for next year’s work. Time spent sorting out logistical, alignment, and resource issues before you leave can relieve pressure in the fall and give everyone a head start on their thinking, planning, and arranging as they have time over the summer. If someone new will be joining the team, this also may be a good opportunity to get acquainted and begin building the new team. 

Fourth, consider what you will need immediately in the fall. As you put things away, be sure to place the items you will need first in easily remembered and easily accessed spaces. You might even make a list of a few things that you want to remember and attend to first and create a file or place the list in a desk drawer or other handy place. Having a few things ready when you return can ease some stress, save some time, and help you have a smoother re-entry when you return. 

Fifth, if you have not done so yet, finish your professional learning plans for the summer. Time will pass quickly once the school year fades into history. Committing, scheduling, and registering for professional learning events and activities now can ensure that they are not overlooked or forgotten. By making commitments now, vacations and other summer activities can be scheduled around the learning you want to gain.  

Finally, once this year has been “tied off,” it is time to refocus your attention on recharging your energy and rejuvenating your spirit. Returning in the fall with renewed passion and a fresh mindset is much easier to accomplish when time with family and friends, pursuing hobbies, or just engaging in activities that feed your soul has been a focus for the summer.  

The final days of the year, especially once students have departed, can be filled with mixed emotions. We may want to leave as soon as possible! However, we cannot afford to leave the year with unfinished business that can compromise our effectiveness, sap our energy, and add to our stress in the summer or fall.  

Thought for the Week

Simply pulling a strategy “off the shelf” or defaulting to the most recently read article or staff development session topic may not generate the results we seek.

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