Refocus, Reframe, Realign for the New Year!

The impending end to the calendar year begins to fill with conversations about New Year’s Resolutions and #OneWord declarations. While those can be opportunities for life-altering moments, they don’t always provide a sense of clear direction of how to proceed. And, while the new year provides an opportunity for a fresh start with a clean slate, we also have to recognize that not all of the activities or work is starting from ground zero.

In our schools and classrooms, we can also look at the new year as an opportunity to look at the work that is being implemented with our various school and district continuous improvement plans – math goals, reading strategies, behavioral action plans, etc. The Winter Break can be a great place to reflect to determine how things are going and what needs to be done coming back in January.

Too often, we just come back to work after Winter Break and pick up where we left off. Yet, taking the time over Break and in January to reassess the current state of the work can definitely help to be more efficient and effective with time, resources, and energy.

It might be helpful to reflect on the following three lenses in order to determine how things are truly going and what possible next steps need to take place:


What things are going well and should be pointed out to the students, staff, and/or families in order to celebrate and ensure they continue to be exemplified in work and execution?

Often, we take for granted the things that are going well, and we forget to celebrate them! It’s important to take a moment to thank people who’ve helped to make actions successful and (re)affirm the positives. It might also be a great opportunity to explore why it is going well and what things took place to make it successful, so they can be replicated in other areas.


What things may have started out going well but have slipped from its regular implementation and not occurring widespread or frequently?

Sometimes, the newness of actions creates a great start with momentum and energy. But, over time they can diminish and become either non-existent or infrequent.

If the strategy is still important, it’ll be important to invest time in determining the root cause. Often, work is spent in trying to resurrect the action or think a reminder is enough to get back on track. But, it may only scratching the surface. Instead, spending time digging deeper at the reasons from multiple people (don’t assume) for why it isn’t taking place at a foundational basis will help to expose the true needs for action.


What things may have started out well with good execution but then may have strayed from its originally intended purpose?

It’s possible that things started well at the beginning of the school year, but things could have caused the actions to morph into something different. It’s possible data is still being collected and people are still talking about the work, but things may have strayed off course. And, at the current conditions, it could continue moving in a different direction taking the work even farther from the intended track. So, while people may be taking about the action or activity, it may not be as effective as the original intention.

In this case, it’s important to acknowledge the work and spirit, but it’s also vital to point out the need to bring things back to the intended state. Actions may include the need to revisit the purpose, reteach the proper protocols and procedures, and/or bring an external, critical friend for guidance.

Coming back from Winter Break can be a source of renewed energy and rejuvenated spirit. As leaders, it’ll be important to invest time in reflecting individually and then with a building or district leadership team on the critical work in reference to what things might need to Refocus, Reframe, or Realign. By investing the time and energy to examine and uncover the progress under these three lenses, the proper steps can be taken in how you proceed for the rest of the school year. Good luck!


  1. Dr. Gupta,
    I would like to share this blog post with our Wallace Foundation Columbus City Schools Emerging Leaders in the Equity Principal Pipeline ♥ Thank you for being such an inspiration and source of guidance for us all!

  2. Great article! Thanks for sharing questions for end-of-year reflection. I appreciate your articles. This article will support my year-end reflection. Wishing you the Best in 2023!

    1. Thanks for taking the time to read and respond, Steven! I am thankful for our friendship! I appreciate you keeping me grounded in the right work in education! And, I love that you get the same energy and inspiration from the primary resources!

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