Principal Helpline: “How Do I Plan Ahead For the Rest of the Year?”

Now is the time to use what you’ve learned to make the rest of the year great.

Principal Helpline: How Do I Make the Most of January Principal Planning Time?


“I’m excited about January because I think it’s a really good time to plan for next year. What things should I be looking at during my principal planning time?”


I love starting fresh in January. The holidays are over, and we have three months of basically uninterrupted instructional time ahead of us. Oh sure, there are a few days off in February, and if you’re in the North, there are always snow days. But basically, it’s a great time for sustained teaching and learning.

And planning.

You’ve probably had ideas percolating in your head since school started. But when you go back to school in January, you have a much clearer picture of what’s working and what isn’t. You have more insight into the strengths and weaknesses of the academic program. You may have been thinking about new programs that might be worth considering. You’ve been weighing expenditures on books and materials.

A Few More Things to Consider

If you hired any new faculty last fall, by now you have a pretty good idea of how they’re doing and what they’ll need to complete the year successfully.

  • How are disciplinary policies working? Referrals? Parental involvement?
  • What about attendance—both kids and faculty?
  • How’s staff morale?
  • Is the school as welcoming to parents and visitors as you want it to be?
  • Is the cafeteria preparing food that kids want to eat?

In short, January is a great time to take stock of how your school is operating in general and to start thinking about where you want to put your energies in preparing for the next year.

If you have a philosophy of continuous improvement, everything is on the table while you still have time to plan and work with faculty to prioritize issues. The next few months are relatively free of distractions, so you can get a clean read on the state of your school. It’s an exciting time!