April 2016
Volume XIII Issue IV

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The Just ASK 2016 Closing of School Checklist

Bruce Oliver

Bruce Oliver, the author of Just for the ASKing!, lives in Burke, Virginia. He uses the knowledge, skills, and experience he acquired as a teacher, professional developer, mentor, and middle school principal as he works with school districts across the nation. He has written more than 150 issues of Just for the ASKing!  He is also a co-author of Creating a Culture for Learning published by Just ASK.


Let’s Celebrate the Good News

A principal recently shared an idea with me that is worthy of attention and action by each of us. She was concerned about the morale of her staff and, in particular, the stress they were feeling at the end of a difficult year. As she mulled over her concerns, she felt a strong need to change the current dynamic of the school environment. She expressed her feelings at a meeting of the administrative team where a relatively unique plan evolved. The group decided that there had been too much emphasis on the negative, and further concluded that they needed to “do a complete 180.” They determined that they should focus on what was working and what was good about their school. They called their plan Good News and they began brainstorming a list of the positive things about their school. In a short period of time, they had come up with some interesting data:

  • 97.5% of their students had never had a discipline referral
  • 100% of their students had been transported to school all year with no safety violations
  • There was a 17% increase in the number of students taking AP classes
  • The cafeteria staff had prepared and served 360 breakfast and lunch meals during the school year, many for students who qualify for free and/or reduced meals
  • 81% of the students had made the school honor roll at least one time during the year
  • A parent survey indicated that 89% of the parents were satisfied with their child’s experience at school

At that point, the administrators stopped generating ideas. They felt it was time to present their idea to the staff at their last faculty meeting of the year and ask the staff to add their own Good News. The result was a monumentally positive experience as the teachers laughed, expressed excitement, generated great ideas, and fully realized that they really should be proud and pleased with the school they had helped to create. They remembered the successful tutoring program that had evolved from their school/business partnership, the improved performance of several athletic teams, the implementation of project-based learning and STEM program, and the successful arts program including three school plays, art exhibits and musical presentations. Their conversations continued and the list of positive accomplishments grew and grew.

As the meeting ended, one teacher suggested that they should publish the Good News about their school and send it to parents and community. The response was extremely positive and set the tone for an optimistic beginning for the upcoming school year.

In order to wrap up the current school year and to begin thinking about the 2016-2017 school year, we present the Just ASK 2016 Closing of School Checklist. Do not forget to take time to consider ways to list and publicize the Good News about your school!

Please share the checklist and the Good News strategy with colleagues.

Principal's Library

Permission is granted for reprinting and distribution of this newsletter for non-commercial use only. Please include the following citation on all copies:
Oliver, Bruce. “The Just ASK 2016 Closing of School Checklist” Just for the ASKing! April 2016. Reproduced with permission of Just ASK Publications & Professional Development (Just ASK). © 2016 Just ASK. All rights reserved. Available at www.justaskpublications.com.