Back to School: School Focus

Getting your school ready for the new school year.

Towards the end of August, most schools’ wind down their summer camps/programs, however, this does not necessarily mean they wind down operations. The curtains call on summer camps, signals a change in gear in the preparations towards the new Academic Year. The Almighty ‘Resumption Day’ is the new D-Day.

If is important to note that as a school, you need to plan for everything – Staffing, Children (new and returning), Parents (new and returning) Staff, Vendors and of course, government officials. However, regardless of your status as parent, staff or school, it is critical to make the often-exacting transition from holiday to school, easier with proper planning.

In this context, the term ‘Resumption’ is a verb involving the action of students returning to school after a long holiday period. This activity is a culmination of several process reviews aimed at ensuring readiness of the entire school community inclusive of the children, their parents and of course the staff. All these reviews, must be translated into action points which have due dates, usually before the D-Day.

I will provide a checklist that sadly does not cover all the elements to plan for, but will provide a good chunk of planning focus. If these areas are covered adequately, we can safely say ‘we will start the new school year on the right footing’.

I will group the ‘To Dos’ for schools into three major categories:

  • School
  • Student
  • Parents

Each of these categories is a focus area for the school as an institution and will be elucidated below:

The School: For the School, I will begin with the Leadership Structure. All  organizations must have a Senior Management Team and a Leadership team; Schools are not exempt. These Leadership structures are necessary because every organization is involved in Leadership, Management and Administrative functions. In Schools, the Management Team should not focus on administrative functions as these make up most of the daily activities of the school, cutting across classroom and administration, and it very time and energy consuming. The SMT in a school, should be involved in charting strategic directions and finding ways to diversify the business arm of the school, thus ensuring economic relevance and core business sync.

Hence, the first step in the Back to School Journey, is a review of the Leadership team.

These teams may have overlaps in terms of personnel but not in terms of specific functions.

The SLT is responsible for setting the direction and overseeing the set-up of the following items as related to ‘Back to School’. The itemization does not follow any order.

  • Academics
  1. Curriculum overview
  2. Curriculum mapping and termly scheme review
  3. Book Purchase
  4. Uniform purchase
  5. Assessment alignment
  6. Class structure
  7. Set the tone for pedagogy
  8. Student pre-assessments
  9. Entry tests for new students
  10. Documentation and Display
  11. Staff Training
  12. Student Pre-Assessment prep
  13. Class Structure and arrangement
  14. Lesson planning
  15. Assessment policy review
  16. Portfolio planning
  17. Student Integration Planning
  • Administrative
  1. All forms needed – entry, medication, admissions, allergy, staff time off, class requisitions
  2. Policy review and communication mapping
  3. Staff recruitment, on-boarding and training
  4. Legislative requirements review and planning
  5. School painting
  6. Review of indoor and outdoor classrooms tools
  7. Enrichment/After school clubs planning and vendor meetings
  8. Receipt booklets
  9. Injury reporting and documentation
  10. Back to School Communique
  11. General Documentation
  12. Whole year calendar
  13. Routines and schedules
  14. Extra Services: Bus, Lunch, Afterschool care

2. The Student: It is important that the students are not left to chance, hence we must plan for our students.

  • All uniforms needs’ per student, must be considered and planned for.
  • Specific class placement
  • Welcome back to school activities and integration mechanics
  • School and class tour
  • Pre-assessment administration techniques
  • Class ground rules
  • Seating arrangements
  • Engagement techniques for all class participation
  • Cognitive, Affective, and psychomotor domain checks
  • Feedback and assessment administration strategies

3. The Parent: Finally but by no means the least, as a school, there is the need to plan for our parents especially, with respect to home-school collaborations. All communication must be clear, precise and timely.

  • Back to school letter/newsletter
  • Fees Information
  • Student supplies list
  • Policy changes/upgrades
  • Program must be planned and communicated with sufficient notice – 2 weeks. Reminders must be worked into the plan.
  • Plan events so parents can attend
  • Have a parent support mechanism especially with respect to payments structures.
  • Documentation

Some of the items on the checklist are fluid and may change as the day draws closer, hence it is advisable that a lot of these activities are planned for right from the end of third term.

If as a school, we spend time focussing on these areas, we will be truly ready for a hitch free back to school day and a smooth school year.

 

Writer:

Okeyinfu, a certified Assessment Lead, is the founder of Busy Minds Center Limited and Soundview Consulting. She is an educational reform advocate. She has extensive experience in coaching and mentoring teachers, parents and young adults in a variety of contexts. She loves to be called a teacher.

Ongoing research: http://bit.ly/2uySe3v.

Email: ajayi.svc@gmail.com

SM: @okeyinfu