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The Promise of a New School Year

The Promise of a New School Year

Henry Cram, President, Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools

As the new school year begins many students, parents and teachers are making new year resolutions focused on improving their performance and taking advantage of the fresh start that a new school year offers. And as a school leader, you too are probably hoping that this will be the school year that you accomplish the goals you have for improving your school.   But then school happens and our best of intentions take a back seat to the unanticipated and the immediate and the prospect of making this the year for improvement slips away.

Whether it is a parent committing to be more involved in their child’ education, a student trying to improve their personal, academic performance or a school leader trying to improve every student’s achievement it is easy to become distracted by the present circumstances we are confronted with and to lose sight of our longer term goals. Before we know it is winter break and nothing on our list of improvements has even been started.

Each year I have gotten better at taking advantage of a new school year by following some simple steps that you too can take this year to increase the probability of your success as a parent, student, teacher or school leader.

  1. The first is to be realistic about what you hope to accomplish. Most real improvements take time and any shortcut that promises success is most likely nothing more than a distraction.

  2. Second, is committing in a public way to the goals you are hoping to accomplish. This will encourage others to support you, hold you accountable to get it done and increase your motivation.

  3. Third, you need to have a plan and a timeline that shows what you will do differently this year to ensure a better outcome. Doing what you have always done will not get you a better result.

  4. Fourth, regularly measure your progress and celebrate your success.

These four steps are at the core of any improvement process and can be used to attain a simple personal goal or serve as a catalyst for systemic change.

Make this the year that makes a difference.

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