(Continued from Previous Post)
Four years ago we loaded up our vehicles to move my oldest daughter into a college dorm. After the three hour trip and the emotions of this major life transition, we weren't exactly ready for the energy required to unload her belongings. Much to our surprise and delight, immediately upon parking in front of her dorm our car was surrounded by smiling upperclassmen who were prepared to do the grunt work. Amazingly all of the boxes, pillows, decor, and other items were carted to her room in less than ten minutes! My daughter was excited to meet some of the students and we were relieved not to have to walk those stairs so many times. That was an awesome first experience that I obviously haven't forgotten.
Step 2: Script the Day
You certainly don't expect a teacher to “wing it” in one of your classrooms, so doesn't it make sense to be equally prepared for the all-important first day of school? The effective school designer has a plan that scripts out the schedule, activities, movements, and especially experiences of the day. As you are making preparations, consider adding these components to your script:
How will the traffic flow that morning be coordinated to deliver a great experience for families? The first few weeks of school are often a frustrating hassle for drivers, as parents try to get back into the morning routine. Depending on the configuration of your campus and the surrounding roads, the impact can also be felt by everyone who travels near the school, so your intentional efforts to streamline the drop-off flow may have pubic relations benefits. The first day always has a higher volume of cars. Where will they park? Who will greet parents and students? Who will will monitor the flow and address any bottlenecks?
What will happen in homeroom to deepen the relationship with each student? How will issues around uniforms be handled if you need them? Planning introductions and "ice breakers" may be one way to help students overcome the jitters on that first day. Setting a tone for discipline is important, but be wise in how you communicate these messages. If discipline issues do arise early, how will your teachers and administrators respond?
Transitions involving mass student movements can be times of chaos as they learn how to navigate their schedules, classroom locations, bathrooms, congestion points, etc. How can you make class changes less stressful? Who will be responsible for coordinating the flow and communications at lunch? Will you assign duty points for teachers and administrators during transition times?
What preparations can you make to minimize those inevitable "surprises" that shouldn't be surprises? What will you do for the teacher who is absent the first day either because of illness or a last minute decision to work elsewhere? Is the faculty and staff prepared if someone pulls the fire alarm? How will you handle the discovery of an infestation of bed bugs? (That actually happened at a school recently)
End of Day
How you begin and how you end will leave the most significant impression. What will teachers do at the end of the day to conclude well? How will the flow of cars and buses be managed for the utmost in safety and timeliness? What data can you collect from teachers, staff, parents, and students to assess the first day's experience and make improvements?
Raving Fans is your goal, with everyone excited about the new school year and the professional manner in which the organization is managed. That's the best way to build word-of-mouth marketing that will contribute to increases in enrollment and fundraising.