Institute Tips: Get SOM Love!

This post was originally published on TeacherPop.

The blessing and the curse of Institute is the sheer number of human beings whose job it is to help you in some way, shape, or form. It’s like acronym city and everyone has something to offer!

That being said, you’ve been around for a few weeks (which, in Institute time, is a few months) and it’s high time you get friendly with an awesome person: your SOM (School Operations Manager). (Note: If you’re not at a National/Centralized Institute, your SOM may have a variety of creative and unique terms, but this person essentially helps run operations at one or more school sites.)

Your SOM. Words cannot describe how awesome he or she is. I don’t say this because I was a SOM last summer, of course.

In a nutshell, SOMs offer perspective and ideas on how to effectively and efficiently run systems in your classroom and school. Their job is to provide as many “example” systems for you as possible, so you can replicate what would be most helpful for you.

That includes the systems they have for, say, checking out supplies, but also the bulletin boards, the way they track data, etc.

The saddest part of the role, though, is that they often are behind the scenes. That’s where this little conversation comes in!

You see, you need to eat lunch with your SOM. (Or at least grab 10 minutes when your SOM is updating signage or putting up student work in your hallway.) Ask a question about data, or about a system you’re confused or intrigued by. Heck, you can even ask about the way signage works (pro-tip: Laser Lime is theofficial name for the directional-signage paper we put up in schools at National Institutes).

While student relationships trump logistics in my books, you’d be surprised by how much you can do to influence culture in your school and classroom by having strong systems and other logistical elements!

So, make a promise: by the end of Week Five, you will get your operations on. You’ll learn SOMething. You’ll feel aweSOMe! And, if you’re anything like me, you may even find a return trip to Institute in your future if the conversation evokes something in you.

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