Strong Start: Leveraging a Playbook to Launch the School Year for Success

August 8, 2022
Instructional Leadership
Dr. Ben Klompus, Katie Yezzi, and Jesse Corburn

by Dr. Ben Klompus, Katie Yezzi, and Jesse Corburn

On the first day of the new school year, high school principal Ashley Martin moves through the building with purpose. She observes student culture by the lockers and in the breakfast line, and pops into several classrooms to watch how teachers start class. If a teacher needs support with a particular skill, like giving clear directions, she may step in to model or whisper feedback.

This may look like the typical moves of many a school leader. But Martin isn't just observing. Guiding her every move is a carefully constructed schedule and set of look-fors, rooted in her vision for success at her school. Everywhere she goes, she jots down notes on a clipboard which allow her to plan deliberately targeted follow-ups, like PD for teachers or discussion topics for a future instructional leadership team meeting.

This is Martin's Playbook. Every year we at Relay Graduate School of Education work with hundreds of school leaders to help them craft Playbooks that guide their time and ensure that every minute is used for what really counts - including monitoring classrooms, meeting prep, and time for personal work and reflection - not just putting out fires.

It's essential to start the year off with a clear focus on what matters to your school and community. A Strong Start Playbook lays the foundation for a healthy school culture, consistently rigorous academics, and support for your leadership team and staff. And when you as a leader follow your own carefully constructed guide, you will reduce your own stress, gain back control over your time, and mostly importantly - see measurable impact.

Dr. Ben Klompus, Katie Yezzi, and Jesse Corburn

Dr. Ben Klompus and Katie Yezzi are former teachers and school system leaders, currently serving as senior leaders of Professional Education Programs at Relay Graduate School of Education. Jesse Corburn is Assistant Superintendent at Uncommon Schools.