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  • Writer's pictureDr. Femi Skanes

Connections are Key

It is officially back to school season! It is the time of year where students are filled with anticipation as they prepare to meet their new teachers. Parents are ready to send their children off for a new year of adventure and educators are preparing to welcome in a new group of learners. This time of year is always exciting. In an early morning conversation with an amazing retired educator, Dr. Cheryl Watkins, she summed this time of year best when she said it is the time of year when the people are excited and the floors are shiny. She went on to say that we have to figure out how to keep this momentum going all year long. Dr. Watkins is absolutely correct. We must stay the course with positivity for the duration of the year if we expect to get positive returns.

As we say hello to another school year, I implore educators to focus on three key strategies for sustained success.

  1. Relationships are the lever for school improvement. Educators must spend this week and the next few weeks building strong relationships with students, parents, and one another. The entire success of a school community is dependent on the strength of relationships.

  2. Communication is more than sending home a weekly newsletter. Communication is the process of trust building so that there is space for two way honest conversations. Strong communications systems must be consistent and timely (especially in case of emergencies).

  3. FUN - Schools should be fun! In a quest to ensure that high quality instruction takes place, it is easy to forget that children need to have fun. Schools are places where students meet their lifelong friends and develop social skills. It is important to create school communities that foster fun. It does not take research to remind us that students learn best in safe and orderly environments. Those environments should also be fun!

I also implore parents to focus on three key strategies for preparing children for a successful school year.

  1. Despite the busy schedules that many families have, it is important to create a structure that fosters healthy family dialogue. Have routines in place for activities such as making dinner together or eating together. These informal structures provide a chance for families to talk to one another which can provide invaluable insight into a child’s overall well being. It also offers a safe place for children to share their successes and concerns.

  2. Find out the school’s process for communication. Some schools send newsletters while other schools may put information on their website. Be sure to create time on your calendar to learn about what is happening in the life of the school. Students benefit tremendously when their parents are informed and engaged with the school.

  3. Help children get school ready! School ready means that there is a clearly defined expectation for success at school which starts at home. Use this time to clearly discuss the expectations for success. Visit those expectations often and support children with meeting those expectations.

Let’s keep the beginning of the year momentum going all year! Happy New School Year!

Dr. Femi Skanes is the founder/CEO and Lead Consultant of Leadership EDGE, LLC. With ten years experience as a high school principal, she is passionate about helping schools thrive and supporting parents in their parenting journey. Leadership is a Lifestyle, Parenting is the Promise, and Equity is Essential are the core values of Leadership EDGE. Dr. Skanes works with schools, nonprofit organizations, community organizations, and churches to achieve those goals.

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