How Are You Recharging This Summer?

Guest post by Dr. Bill Ziegler, a 2015 NASSP Digital Principal who presented at the Ignite ’15 conference and will attend Ignite ’16.

Summer is a great time for principals to reflect on the past year and prepare for the upcoming school year. Consider grouping your summer break so that you can take advantage of opportunities to vacate, relate, innovate, and invigorate.

Vacate—as in vacation. Summer is the perfect time to refresh and reenergize for the new school year. When you go on vacation, be sure to leave the school cell phone and laptop in the hotel room or, even better yet, at home. Taking a break from school will make you stronger in the long run.

Relate—I use the summer to build my relationships with principals, teachers, friends, and most importantly, my family. I really enjoy having lunch with different principals to learn what other school leaders are doing and how they are working to improve their school. It’s great when teachers visit the school building over the summer to tell me stories about their kids, vacation, or ask questions about the upcoming school year. Spending time with friends and family is also important. Too often, these special people in our lives sacrifice time away from us during the school year, so it’s imperative we provide them quality and quantity time over the summer months.

Innovate—Summer is my time to dream, vision cast, and be creative. Our principal team examines our school data, which typically arrives in July, and we use this time to develop our school goals and improvement plan. This is our opportunity to innovate and look for ways to challenge students, empower faculty, and collaborate with the community. The summer is also a prime time to get the creative juices flowing as I work to think outside the box, stretch myself as a leader, and challenge myself to new levels. Here are some quick ways for you to innovate this summer:

  • MakerSpaces. Design your library or common area into a digital playground for students. MakerSpaces encourage students to tinker with digital tools to build, design, and produce things. Check out this post on MakerSpaces on my personal blog.
  • Tech Tools. Expand your repertoire of digital learning tools this summer. Join my EduTechTips, by Remind @RemindHQ, to sign up to get weekly Tech Tips alerts to engage you as a digital leader. For example, check out Periscope for a new tech tool that I’ve been using this summer to learn from other principals. It’s an app with Twitter’s live video feed that allows subscribers to interact with the video postings. I would appreciate the opportunity to learn from you and hear about new tech tools that you are using, so please follow me on Twitter @drbillziegler.

Invigorate—This can be done in many ways, but here are the best ways I get revitalized:

  • I’m reading Mindset by Carol Dweck this summer, but there are countless books that can restore your soul and push your leadership to new levels.
  • My Professional Learning Network (PLN) is critical to my growth and inspiration as a leader. I connect with my PLN via Twitter during weekly chats. I learn so much through these networks, and I grow exponentially as a school leader.
  • Attend. If you are able, attend workshops to stimulate new thinking and reinforce current thinking.
  • Write about your journey and how you have grown. This reflection is key as you develop as a school leader.
  • Volunteer. One of the best ways to get energized is to give back to others. Volunteer in your community.

It is important that you, as a school leader, use your summer months wisely as you prepare for the upcoming school year. Make sure you take time for a vacation, relate to others, innovate ideas, and invigorate your spirit this summer. If you practice these key principles, you will blossom into a strong principal during the school year.

Dr. Bill Ziegler is principal of Pottsgrove High School in Pottsgrove, PA. Follow him on Twitter @drbillziegler.

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