Let’s take a minute and talk about YOU! As school administrators, we spend so much time, energy and effort pouring into everyone else but ourselves. We spend extra hours prepping to make sure things are just right for everyone, lose sleep at night stressing about others’ situations and pour into those we serve with so much passion.

You do those things because you care and want to be successful. Both of us (Todd & Ross) feel strongly about that topic and can talk for hours on ways to improve those conditions for you but that is not what this article is about. This article is all about YOU!

First, congratulations! You have made it to the end of the school year. If you are a first-year administrator, WAY TO GO! You just accomplished what was probably the most difficult year in your profession as an educator. Nothing can prepare you for that first year and all those firsts that come as a school leader. For all our veteran Texas administrators, WAY TO GO! Regardless of your years of experience, you just accomplished another school year. There is a special feeling of pride and accomplishment when you wrap up a school year. We are proud of you, your leadership matters, and you have made a positive difference this year!

Now, let’s talk about your next couple months. We know everyone can be on different contracts but one thing we do know is you are going to have some time this summer where students are not in your building. We have a few tips, tricks and advice that will not only make you a better leader, but they will fill your bucket and make you a better person!

Here we go…

1. Turn off the principal brain. This can be a tough one! I see a lot of posts on FB groups and X about this. Principals are constantly asking, “How do you turn off the principal brain?!” Even though you may be on “summer break,” we know the never-ending to-do list and deadlines still exist and your phone still seems to ring non-stop. It is too easy to stay on-call 24/7, constantly worry about school and focusing on the next task. This constant principal mode will leave you burned out, frustrated and simply not being your best. That’s why we think it is so important to turn off the principal brain! We recommend taking at least a week in the summer to do this! Zero school related calls, emails, or activities! If you can, take a vacation. Even if it’s not anywhere exciting for a whole week, get away for a couple days and soak up some time outside of the community you serve in.  You will return rejuvenated with a fresh look at the upcoming school year. Then, for the remainder of the summer, make sure you are doing this on the weekends, too! Turn off the principal brain, and focus on you and your family!

2. Find a hobby/pursue a passion. One of the quickest ways to burn out is to pour all of ourselves into our job and nothing into us. When we pursue, and make time for, things outside of our career it brings more joy and creativity into our lives and helps us at our jobs as well. Maybe that passion is something like gardening and all you begin with is one potted plant you work to grow and keep alive. Starting a hobby small is still starting a hobby.

3. Connect/attend a conference. Attending conferences are one of the most underrated and impactful things you can do in your career. Not only do you get to continue your own learning, but it also affords you the opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals who are dealing with some of the same things you are. When you grow your own professional community, it gives you people to go to for ideas, to vent to, or just to walk alongside you through the difficult moments that only school leaders understand. (Pro Tip: The TEPSA Summer Conference brings together over 2,300 leaders in one place! Make sure you’ll be there June 12-14! And if you’re coming alone and don’t even know where to begin, find us because we’ll both be there!)

4. Prepare early and communicate intentionally. This can be a game changer for you! Don’t wait until a few weeks before school starts to begin thinking about the upcoming school year. Instead, take a week off after your school year ends, then come back and tackle as much as you can for next school year. This includes any ordering of supplies, as many hires as possible, the school year calendar, and anything you can get done early. Next up is communicating intentionally all summer! Don’t be that principal flooding emails over summer break! Your teachers deserve the time off, their contracts have them off, and you need the best version of them returning to school at the end of summer! IF you have important building or upcoming information to send them, do so once a month. I encourage you to make it fun and enjoyable when you do. Try an interactive newsletter or even shoot a short video. It’s also important to intentionally, and effectively, communicate with your custodial staff, maintenance department, and central office all summer. This is the time when your building gets a facelift, new equipment can be installed and your wishlist for next school year can be ordered. (Pro tip: Take care of your maintenance staff over the summer, too! My favorite thing was to grill burgers for them on Fridays during the summer!)

As always, those are four things that worked for us. Some were absolute game changers. Take our advice and make it work for you. We want you to be the best leader and person you can possibly be. Know that we are in your corner and are always willing to support you however we can. Don’t hesitate to reach out on social media, send us a message and connect. We will respond and support you the best we can.

Enjoy your summer! You’ve earned it.

Todd Nesloney is TEPSA’s Director of Culture and Strategic Leadership. He is an award-winning educator, author and international speaker.

Ross Braun is a former elementary principal who is passionate about supporting schools and leaders to ensure every child has a safe, loving, and engaging learning environment. Ross is now the VP of Positive Education at Spring, Texas-based, School Life.

The Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association (TEPSA), whose hallmark is educational leaders learning with and from each other, has served Texas PK-8 school leaders since 1917. Member owned and member governed, TEPSA has more than 6000 members who direct the activities of 3 million PK-8 school children. TEPSA is an affiliate of the National Association of Elementary School Principals.

© Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association

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