During the holidays, I had the great opportunity to ride the “Rock ‘n’ Roller Roller Coaster at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  I have been known to love my share of roller coasters but I have to say that this is always my favorite one to return to.  It might be that it features a high-speed launch of 0 to 60 miles per hour in just 2.8 seconds… or that it has three inversions, two rollover loops and one corkscrew!!  Or maybe it is really because it is also my daughters’ favorite ride so I have to love it too!  And, as I return to writing this weekly blog that is supposed to be about improving schools, it might just remind me of our school improvement work just a little bit…

As we all return to work this week, there is renewed energy, positive mindsets and lots of  hard work ahead of us.  It is a time to reset our priorities and focus our actions.  There are commitments to revisit, goals to address and a sense of starting over prevails.  It is similar to the very start of the roller coaster… when you first get in, things are quiet and you calmly consider what will happen next.  The first days back to school after any break can feel the same.  You are prepared, and even though you have been there before and know what to expect, you are still anxious to see what will happen next.  You want to feel comfortable and confident and you hope that you are ready to handle anything that comes along.  And, then the ride starts.  To Aerosmith music, the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coasterrockin_outside wastes no time twisting you, turning you and sending you upside down.  It is loud and it is fast and it causes you just enough stress to recognize that you are on a thrill ride.  And, just when you think that you cannot take another second, it quickly comes to an end. If you hang around long enough, the entire ride resets and you can go again. Same start-up, same speed, same thrill.

The school year can feel the same for teachers and leaders.  There are times when all appears calm; when plans are ready, goals are set and we are waiting for students and families to fill the halls and classrooms.  The ride itself can give us enormous positive energy and, at the very same time, be exhausting.  And, just when we think we have handled all that we can handle, it comes to an abrupt end.

Here is my new year’s challenge to you.  Use this time of calm and renewed energy as your “reset”. Reset your systems and practices to ensure you have taken care of the details that will make your ride feel smoother. Take the time to ensure that your actions align with your priorities and that you are truly putting the student first.  Reset your goals to match your focus and take the time to address how you will monitor and celebrate your successes.  Identify what needs to change and take care of these things.   Be evidence-based in all of your decisions and remember that, before you know it, this ride (or, as it really should be called, this school year) will end. Don’t run out of time before you have taken care of the things that are important to you and your students.

Have a great week. As always, I appreciate my readers and love to hear from you. If you want to receive this blog automatically every week in your inbox, please click on “follow” on the right side at the top of the blog.  Help me reach my goal of doubling my number of followers this month! Thanks and I look forward to seeing you next Saturday.

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