In the next few months, my school, like every other in my state, will be preparing their School Plan for the next three years. As with any type of planning, we have a set of guidelines that the Government and Education Department want us to follow and stick to. As part of the executive team at my school, we have been discussing the previous plan, and ways to move forward in the next one.
At one of our meetings and planning sessions, the powers that be let us form groups to brainstorm what we want to see happen in our school with our staff and with our kids. Now, this seemed like a simple little exercise and we were asked to consider these three questions
- What did we want to keep?
- What did we want to get rid of?
- What new ideas did you have?
This was a great starting point, and in our small groups we had some great discussions with these three questions in mind. Then, they sprung a “little” surprise on us – at the next staff development day (or pupil free day), in our groups we were to present our ideas for the next school plan to the whole staff, then the staff will vote on which option they prefer. This would then be where our school plan would develop from. Simple. Easy. No stress. Hardly!!!!!!
Fast forward a few weeks. My little group had a planning session in the last week of last term, and as I knew this was coming up, I was starting to stress about what our group wanted in the ideal school world. My stress was not about the presentation, not about putting it together or even about working as part of a group. My stress came from the simple fact that my little group knew what we wanted – but didn’t have any actual concrete ideas to propose to staff. We knew that we wanted to improve x, y and z, but how that was going to happen and what that looked like – well????
I don’t like being under prepared for anything, I like being organised and knowing exactly where I am headed in all aspects of my life, and school is no different. I kept asking myself – how and what will this all look like? I had quite a few days of thinking about this and then it came to me – 20 Questions to refocus! Why didn’t I think of it earlier? I do wonder about my brain sometimes, it can be a little slow to process things.
Off to my hard drive I went, found the document I had created for my faculty earlier in the year, printed it out and then sat down and went through every single question (with a great cup of coffee and a supply of chocolate!). I set aside a couple of hours to complete the questions, and I needed it. But, after going through the process, and writing down my ideas and answers, I could articulate what I thought my group’s focus could actually look like in the school plan. I was so relieved. It felt good to get it all down on paper. It felt good to come up with ideas and these ideas spurned new ones. It was good going to the next meeting with a clear vision that I could discuss with my group. We went through my suggestions, refined them and we all walked away from the meeting like something was achieved! A win for all!
These questions are simple, but very effective. I wrote another post about them earlier in the year, the link is below. Be sure to check it out as it gives more details about the questions and why I came up with them in the first place. When I used them with my own faculty, we focused on what we had achieved in the previous year and looked at ways to improve this year. It was a very pleasing process, everyone felt like their opinions mattered and were heard. As a collective we came up with ideas that were a small seed with one, but together they blossomed into some great ideas that we will be implementing next term.
I wrote a blog post on these questions to help you refocus earlier in the year. In the post, it goes into more detail about the questions that will help you refocus your energy. You can also go to my TPT site and download the 20 Questions to Refocus for FREE! Go on and click here to download this free resource. I know it will help you to refocus your energy and efforts, just like it has mine.
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Until next time
Julia from Jooya