Great Ideas for Welcoming Your Teachers Back
By Scott Sterling
July 2016, Volume 39, Issue 11
Starting the school year off right requires motivating teachers and getting them excited about the year ahead, as well as letting them know just how important they are to the success of the school and its students. Lunches and goody bags are great, but here are some creative ideas on how to welcome your teachers back to school.
Take the first day off-site.
This might sound a little crazy, but some teachers might have trouble transitioning back from summer break. To ease that transition, consider having the staff meet off-site for at least the first morning back. Consider the beach, a pool, or some other relaxing place. This shouldn’t affect your workflow too much. That first morning is often about data study and motivation anyway, both of which can be done outside. There will be plenty of time for them to adopt a professional mindset and work in their classrooms during pre-service week.
If it can be done digitally, make it happen.
The No. 1 complaint among teachers during pre-service week is that they don’t get enough time to work in their classrooms. Ease that burden for them by making any materials or talking points that would have required a faculty meeting available to them online. Yes, you can share files through email. But you can also make a podcast or two so they can listen to the salient points while still hanging board paper and labelling desks.
Bring the suppliers in.
Your school, and the district in general, buys a lot of supplies. Most of those suppliers would be happy to show their appreciation by providing lunch or filling swag bags with the goodies they hand out at conferences. All it takes is a quick phone call and the promise of some recognition.
Catch up with every teacher.
Administrators are busy at the beginning of school as well, but make it a point to stop in every classroom just to catch up with the staff member. Five minutes of chit-chat about the summer would be great, but stopping briefly to help with a prep task is even better. This is a great way to build relationships and lets the staff know that you’re willing to meet them halfway (or, in this case, the whole way).
Take a tour.
In many schools, the staff never ventures outside of the school gates to get to know the neighborhood. This is a disservice to the students and the community. One morning, organize a tour to be guided by the most knowledgeable staff, highlighting the notable and notorious spots around the neighborhood. Afterwards, stop for lunch at a local restaurant (preferably one frequented by the kids and their families). Not only is this valuable team-building, but it also gives the staff a frame of reference when trying to relate with their students.
Host an Ed-tech Shark Tank.
Many of your staff went to conferences, read books, or scoured the Internet for education tips and tricks over the course of the summer. They would love to share what they found with their colleagues, if only they were afforded the time and the opportunity. Take an hour out of a faculty meeting and ask for volunteers to show everyone their best new gadget, tool, or website. Everyone comes out wiser, more efficient, and more collaborative.
Pre-service week is an exciting time for everyone in the school. Teachers are filled with hope and ideas about the upcoming school year. It’s your job to make sure those feelings carry over as long as possible.
Scott Sterling is a freelance education writer in Clearwater, Florida.
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