The parties are all done. The grades have posted; the awards all handed out. The final goodbyes said as everybody heads out on summer vacation.

Now you finally have unrushed time to sit and reflect. As a school leader, you are probably thinking about the previous school year; what went well, what did not go so well, and the progress made as both a leader and school.

You are probably thinking about next year already also. Who are the new students entering next year, what needs continued and improved, and how can more learning value be added to both staff and students?

For the past year, the Leading Learners Institute has been using this blog to explore the top top 12 questions educational leaders need to answer and think about to make progress in their school.

As you sit and warmly think about your upcoming vacation to the beach, we decided to help you reflect on the past year and the upcoming one by giving you some targeted reflection questions to ponder over the summer. Here are ten questions that focus on the capacity elements in your school.

  1. Were your vision and mission strong enough to guide your school’s actions this year? How often did you use it to guide your decisions? If no and not much, how can you better use it next year?
  2. Are the problems in your organization in the simple, complicated, complex, or chaotic space right now? How do you know, and how can you differentiate your problem-solving process in each?
  3. Does your school have a clear instructional purpose around which everything is organized? How did you use this purpose last year? How can you develop or use this purpose more next year?
  4. Does your school have effective instructional guidance systems to help with coherence and how well were these systems used last year? How can you improve their use next year?
  5. What types and forms of capacity did you try to develop this year? How well did your school help support the development of expertise in your teaching staff this year? How might deliberate practice be used to improve instruction next year?
  6. Does your school have a clear plan or design for distributed leadership to help you? How well did that work last year? Who else can and should “practice” their leadership next year and around what?
  7. Did your school lean toward a more positive or negative culture this year around your improvement efforts? How can you move your culture to be more positive next year?
  8. How thorough and precise are your messages when introducing a new idea to your whole staff? How will you frame the learning work of your school for next year?
  9. How can you get teachers to more systematically process these new ideas?
  10. What are the strongest beliefs of your teaching staff and you? Are those helping or hindering your improvement efforts? How can you recognize these beliefs and help your staff see their impact on teaching and learning?

In sum,  leading schools today is fraught with challenge and change, but critical reflection is a requisite skill for all school leaders. The ability to reflect on your past year and look forward to your next is an essential part of continuous improvement. Keep these questions in mind as you think about the needs of your students and teachers for next year.

From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you for your work in creating the next generation. Have a restful summer.