Are you ready to go back to school

Many may think of January as the time to start a new year, but now that I’m a mom, September seems a much better option.

Following a summer of vacations, sunshine, and road trips, I’m not the only one that got out of a regular rhythm at work.  Looking around the office, it’s not hard to see how teams can get out of step.  There were very few days my team was all in the office at the same time.  A rhythm becomes impossible.

Just like with school age children, who scramble off to far corners during the summer and come back together in September.  As adults, it’s not much different.  As the weather cools, there are more days when we are all together, collectively moving things forward.

As I work with my son to get back into the school discipline of early mornings and homework, it’s not difficult to see the correlation between the end of summer for children and adults.  Watching the student / teacher interactions, here are 3 actions we can take as individuals and leaders to get the back to school mindset going, no matter what we do.

1.       Evaluate where we are.

New teachers will perform a quick evaluation of their students at the start of the year.  Not just to see what they may have lost over the summer that needs to be refreshed, but to understand where all students are in their capability.

As leaders and individuals, it is no different.  What have we accomplished at this point in the year?  We should consider our individual development and career progress, as well as that of our team, organization or project.

No one can put together a plan to get anywhere, if they don’t know where they are starting from.


2.      Evaluate where we think we should be.

Once a teacher understands where the knowledge level of the students and class are, he or she will evaluate that progress against a pre-defined set of criteria.  There may be gaps in knowledge expected for a single student or a group of students, in math, writing or spelling.

At work, we need to similarly evaluate where we and our team members are relative to what is expected.  This is a great time for progress or development evaluations.  Doing them at mid-year, right when summer is kicking off, may be setting up for failure against the competing priorities of work that still needs to get done and personal goals of enjoying the summer.  September is a perfect chance to see what has really been accomplished.


3.      Determine what we want to accomplish by the end of the year.

Knowing where students are relative to where they should be provides a teacher with the ability to create a realistic plan through the end of the year.  Not the full school year, but for the next few months to Christmas vacation.

For ourselves and our teams, our objectives are normally through the end of the calendar year.  Based on what has been done vs what was planned, we need to realistically look at what we expect to accomplish in the few months that remain.  It ensures we focus on the most critical personal and professional objectives, allowing for success


The Summer Bonus

And lest we forget everything about the summer many of us are still holding on to through this weekend, there is one very important lesson we need to remember.  We need to relax.  Have fun and find ways to unwind and enjoy.

It may be difficult in the six months of freezing New England winter, when I’m hunkering down and praying for daylight.  However, if we save all of our relaxation for summer, we may be spending it recovering our sanity rather than truly enjoying it.


I don’t know about anyone else, but coming back from this long weekend will be reminiscent of the end of summer break.  While I’ll enjoy this weekend, once Monday comes, I’d challenge all of us to get back to school.


What is your back to school (work) ritual?  I’d love if you could share it in the comments and keep the conversation going.