It’s been a spell since I’ve sat down and wrote a post, but now that the school year is officially going, I thought it was time to brush the dust off the keyboard and jump back in.
Oh yeah – you can expect some podcasts flying your way in September so stay tuned and subscribe to us 🙂
Nuts and bolts
This goes without saying and is pretty common in all schools I’ve ever worked at or spoke to. I refer to this as fine tuning the school year. Schedules are all set up, report card templates have been carried over from the previous school year and student and email groups are all created. Now it is time to fine tune all of this. Whose schedule has changed, updating email groups, helping teachers with their tech and their classroom pages and websites. It is one of those aspects that is done when it is done, but it makes all the difference moving forward.
The beginning of the year is not a bad time to try out some new ideas. The staff is pretty focused on setting up their procedures and classrooms. This goes for divisions as well. More often then not a teacher or principal will have a strong idea of what they want; however if you can throw in something new that either enhances or replaces an older process you will find people very receptive.
I tried this with middle school students requesting electives. Normally it was done through a Google Form and then the students were manually placed in a class. This year, we tried it through our school information system. There was some fine tuning and some small obstacles to overcome, but the administration was willing to give it a go.
They would know really quickly if it was going to work or not. If it didn’t, no big deal. It’s the start of the school year, electives don’t start right away with our schedule so if it didn’t work we still had time to do it the Google way. Just for the record, it did work.
The start of the school year is not a two-three week process for the IT department. It often starts in early July for us and ramps up week by week until school starts and then carries on a good two weeks after that. For us at least, that accounts for six weeks of work.
I am a big believer of looking back at big projects and figuring out what could we have done better, what really worked and what was a grind. These discussions usually bring everyone in on the same page and allow people to share successes and failures in a safe way.
Looking to the future
The big one here is budgeting for the next school year. Don’t wait on this one and start thinking and discussing it now. If you know you have a big project then start getting quotes, prices, time tables and contingencies in place. I’ve learned this from experience. I’ve wanted to do a project but only did some basic web searches and then budget time came due and I just put up a number. Well, the work needed more time and more money in order to do it correctly. That was bad news. Luckily we were able to make it work, but it is not very professional and if it is a trend.
Most budgets seem to be due in fall or early winter so don’t wait and be sure to talk to your admin team in the building to make sure they don’t have anything they need to add. Communicate now so you don’t have to explain why someone cannot have something in the future.
This is very important and something I learned even before being in education. Make sure you have some wiggle room. Don’t plan projects back to back with no time in between. Make sure you have space and some give to your planning for the inevitable, unforeseen disaster or issue. It happens and make sure you and your team are able to put certain projects on hold and re-prioritize when the need arises. If not you will find unhappy people all around you.