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Three Quick Strategies to Address The Fall Slump

As we reach the close of October, more than just Halloween, trick or treating, and candy is on my mind. Several times this week I heard from leaders I am coaching in various parts of the country all dealing with a similar challenge; the fall slump.

We know this by many different names but the symptoms are all the same: short fuses, grumbling amongst the staff, and the feeling that our culture might be moving in the wrong direction. When we reach this point in the school year, typically close to the close of the first quarter, the days are getting shorter and many teachers have a student who is dancing on their last nerve. It’s ok, it happens…but how do you help staff, and yourself, navigate the fall slump? Here are three quick strategies for leaders.

  1. Get out and get visible: when the slump begins to rear its ugly head, get yourself into the hallways and classrooms. Your presence as the leader will help to calm some of the nerves of your staff while reminding your students what the expectations are for them and their classmates.
  2. Have direct conversations: you’ll begin to hear the grumblings from staff sharing with you what some might be saying in the ‘informal staff meeting’, the one that happens in the parking lot or local watering hole. It might be tempting to ignore what you’re hearing but it’s important to not let it fester. If there are specific complaints, set up time or stop by during a planning period and ask questions. If you don’t address the issues they will take on a life of their own.
  3. Be willing to make adjustments: just like life in the classroom, you might have made plans over the summer that you were quite excited about that might not be fitting into the current reality. It’s ok to give yourself some grace and back away from something that no longer makes sense. It might not mean dropping something completely but potentially you might need to adjust the time frame you had for an initiative or focus. If after having conversations, both formal and informal, with staff you discover the need to adjust, be willing to do so and your staff will appreciate you as a great leader.

Have a #RoadToAwesome week


To celebrate National Principals Month, we are running a special promotion on my book Road to Awesome: The Journey of a Leader. Hit the link and use the code FOBA to get the book for only $20 and free shipping. Click here to purchase the autographed copy.

Tune in this week to “Leaning into Leadership” where my guest is Johnathan Cranford, author of the book The Art of In-School Suspension.

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