As we head into the holiday season, I challenge school leaders to ask yourselves, “What is my most important focus right now?” Consider the singular most important objective you and your leadership team need to focus on in the next six months of the school year.
The discipline of saying, “There is this one thing, and if that one thing doesn’t happen, nothing else can happen,” is critical. Because the truth is, we only have one chance with the students in front of us. What is the objective you absolutely need to accomplish in the next six months to know, in your heart of hearts, that you were successful with them?
Think of it like a New Year’s resolution: “I am going to get healthy”; “I am going to get my child ready to leave for college.” Good health and college-readiness are the overarching themes, but they’re not specific goals; your goals must be supported by quantitative data. As educators, we are all data experts, but numbers kill inspiration. We can be far more effective in inspiring others to achieve our goals by establishing our overarching themes.
In order to inspire, every school needs a rallying cry—a theme that everyone on the team is committed to. Most people on a team can’t answer the question, “What is the most important focus right now?” But by establishing your rallying cry (your overarching theme), your team can then buy in and work toward accomplishing your specific goals (supported by data) together.
Accelerate Institute’s rallying cry for school year 2022-23 is “Hope. Dream. Act.”
The Accelerate team is focused on reenergizing leaders so they become empowered to pass their own positive energy on to their school communities. “Hope” describes that crucial “spark” an inspirational leader must possess to ignite change. The “dream”? That’s the vision of what success should look, sound, and feel like within the school community. And finally, we have to acknowledge that “hope” and a “dream” simply mean nothing without “action.”
As you progress further into this school year, make an effort to work with your team to visualize your hopes and dreams for staff, students, and parents. Consider the following:
- Environment: How does it feel, sound, and look to walk into my building? How about each classroom?
- Relationships: How are my relationships with staff? How are relationships between staff? Between staff and students?
- Impact: What is the one impact I want to make on my school in the second half of this school year? How am I serving others?
- Self: What new habits am I developing? What is one characteristic I want to develop?
- Northstar: What is the guiding principle that I would like to live by?
Through contemplating these questions, I’m hopeful that you’ll be able to identify your true vision for your school community. Then ask your team: “What’s the one thing we must focus on in order to make it happen?” Once you’ve determined your “must,” your rallying cry will become apparent.
Here are some examples of rallying cries from our Growth Accelerator schools for the 2022-23 year:
- Randolph Elementary: “SOARing high… exceeding expectations”
- Perkins Bass Elementary: “Citius, atius, fortius… faster, higher, stronger”
- Namaste Charter School: “The time is now. Every second counts!”
- Chicago International Charter School network: “The perfect storm”
- Fairfield Academy: “Believe to succeed—we are Fairfield”
- Gary Comer Middle School: “Turn up the heat!”
Engage in deep conversations about how you will work together to make your vision a reality. Then, establish your rallying cry that inspires action. Remember to ground all of these efforts in love, because love is a verb, and it will help you liberate your students.