The calendar is set to become August which, in addition to ‘dog days’ in baseball and super hot temps all around, means staff is set to return. Yep, time to begin getting ready for our students to kick off the year. Before long fall sports and activities will be in full swing. Classrooms and playgrounds will fill up. But what do you do before that happens? I had a first year principal reach and ask advice on things to consider for the first week staff is back, you know prior to when kids arrive. Here is the advice I shared with her:
- Plan alone time for teachers: I share this one first because it is the most important. Yes, as leaders, we spent the summer planning and putting our initiatives in place. We can’t wait to talk about them and the huge impact we believe they will have on teaching and learning. But give your teachers time FIRST. They will be more open to listening and be less distracted if their needs are met first. Give them at least a half day in the first week, as early as you can, and then more time as the week progresses. This time is about them, not you.
- Bring in a speaker, share a motivational video: ok, yes I do that work. No that isn’t a plug for you to bring me in. My point is this; during the summer the fire should have been stoked a little for staff. Now, fan the flames and get them really fired up about the impact they can, and will, have on kids.
- Who are we? Yep, this might be confusing, but so often we think of initiatives, use of the instructional coach, and all sorts of ‘how we do it here’ that we forget the ‘who we are’ for our newest team members. Imagine doing something to teach traditions, like a veteran staff member sharing what it means to be a ‘tiger’ (or whatever your mascot might be). It’s tough being new so let’s do something unique to bring our newest into the fold and have them feeling like they are a part of the traditions, wear the colors proudly, and understand what it is they represent.
- Mixer/barbeque/party: whatever your preference, get together with the staff in a social setting. This might be over lunch, a few grills on the school’s front lawn, or at someone’s house ideally designed for hosting such an event (yeah, we were that house when I was a teacher).Whatever you do, just give them an opportunity to get to know each other outside of the walls of the school. You could even make it a “New Year’s Party” playing off the start of a new school year. This will pay off!
- The live Q & A: alright administrators, this is your chance to shine. Set up a few 15-30 minute non-mandatory sessions. Host them in different parts of the school and make it a drop in type event. Staff who have questions, be they about the initiative, a schedule, or anything else may not want to ask in front of everyone. But this setting gives a small, intimate space to ask. Do this a few times and it will become a tradition on your campus.
The time has come for your grownups to come back to school. Take this bit of advice and welcome back your staff the right way. Have an amazing start of your 2023-24 school year!
Have a #RoadToAwesome week
Tune in this week to “Leaning into Leadership” where my guest is Colorado educator, and new author, Kip Shubert.
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