As the new school year begins across the country, students and staff are eager, excited, and ready to hit the ground running. Teachers are full of energy and are ready to impart the wisdom they have in their specific content to their new students. Students are ready to start a new chapter in life, growing in so many different ways throughout the year. At my school we kicked off our opening day for students with the 8th graders clapping and cheering in the new 5th graders as they walked down the red carpet and into the middle school for the first time. It is an awesome tradition and an amazing experience to be a part of. This year we also started the day with a school wide assembly filled with games, singing, laughter, dance competitions, and the reveal of our theme and community service platform for the year. We ended the assembly with the dropping of the ball, just like New Years Eve in New York. It was a great way to start the year. But, the big question that remains is, how can we keep that energy going?
As leaders of the school, we need to make sure that students and staff stay fired up about school. This year to keep kids on board, we have student versus teacher games and activities, assemblies, guest speakers, and other events planned as rewards for our middle school students. This not only keeps them pumped about the social and fun aspects of school, but will hopefully also motivate them academically so that they can participate. While I love these events, it is also important for us to recognize that not all staff members do.
As leaders, we need to consider the perspectives, strengths, and preferences of our staff members in the same way we hope teachers consider those things for their students. If you have an art teacher who is extremely talented, ask them for advice or bring them on board with designing artwork for these events. Maybe a language arts teacher can help with writing a press release, or with rewriting lyrics to a popular song to suit the school theme. Coordinate with your music teacher to have a student perform the national anthem before the big game instead of just a recording. Playing to the strengths of staff members builds a positive, inclusive environment and sets the tone for how teachers can and should relate to their students!
This year, all staff members in our school were asked to fill out an #IWill - Professional Goal. These goals will all be posted in one location in the school so parents, students, staff and anyone who enters the building can see the areas that teachers plan to focus on this year and their pledge to continue professional growth. This is another way that we are hoping to model a growth mindset for our students, while also providing some accountability to keep one another motivated throughout the year! Personally, my goal is to take the time to develop deep, lasting, and meaningful relationships with students and staff. I feel that I am a relational person, but I want to deepen those relationships to help others better themselves. As the year progresses, I hope to share ways that I am achieving my #IWill goal here on our blog!
How can you keep the energy and enthusiasm high in your classroom and building beyond just the first week of school? I firmly believe that you must take the time to develop those relationships while fostering the strengths of others. Whatever your role or position within the school, commit to helping to make your school a family environment where everyone works together to achieve success each and every day!