For me, finishing well always sets me up for success in the future. Finishing well as a learning community is intentional and thoughtful. Individually, we can all consider the 5 Ideas for Finishing Well, but what does it look like to finish well in our schools?

Reflect with Honesty and Celebration

Reflection is at the heart of Learn Forward. As we reflect, we can see what matters most. We can see the areas of growth. We know the pains and joys. Our particular community has big, hairy, audacious fundraising goals this spring. Why? Because we are facing a serious financial restructuring as an independent school. It is good to be honest about our issues and it is good to celebrate our progress, our community, and the learning of the birds in our nest over the past year. In the final weeks, we celebrate the best of the past year and we write it in giant webs on white boards. We record it secretly in our journals and we speak with delight about the triumph of this heroic journey called education .

Acknowledge the Learning for Each Child

It’s personalized. Every child needs to leave our school knowing their efforts and learning matters. The students design portfolios, the teachers pass out certificates about improvement, and the parents hear genuine feedback about what sparkles in each learner’s life. I encourage our Learn Forward teachers to write anecdotal comments illustrating attunement to each learner’s growth.

Reflection is required here too!

Support Each Other

In these final weeks and days, people raise their hands to offer support to each other. Teachers and Administrators all pull together to ensure the students have a wonderful experience. We get outside, we host events, and the culminations all take energy. So, our hearts are to help one another. It is a sincere Learn Forward Journey!

Acknowledge Professional Learning and Say ‘Thanks’

Incredible energy is invested into a school year. We need to acknowledge our professional inquiries and the deep work achieved in our midst. Our team hosts an internal edcamp celebrating the meaningful work we are doing as professionals. It is open, participatory, and the participants provide the professional development content. Each educator shares with the group in a brief 4-5min presentation and the group reciprocates feedback in a 2-3min response. The patterns, insights, and encouragement resulting spurs on our efforts in the future. Because we are a small team, there is less choice than a conventional edcamp, but the principle is the same.

And, we say ‘Thank You’ to everyone we can think of in our building! We give gifts, write notes, sign cards, host luncheons. We try to ensure everyone in our community knows we appreciate them. Again, personalizing this process is important and I continue to learn how to plan ahead to ensure time for this essential leadership principle.

Lay the Ground Work for Next Year

We have a checklist for teachers and administration ensuring this year is complete and we are positioned for a new one. We discuss next year’s theme, order our technology and supplies, and set our summer planning goals because we want to be intentional and manage our time effectively. The teachers are encouraged to design restful summers. We consider what will launch us into a new year with strength. We do intensive calendar planning and outline the content and timing of new initiatives. When we close the doors for summer, the new year’s promise is written on our hearts. Within our restful summer, creativity flourishes.

Finishing Well is both an individual and corporate experience. We reject the ‘drag ourselves across the finish line’ and cultivate the ‘Celebrate!’ mentality. We’re in it together.

For the sake of the children,

Karine