I was inspired to write this post after reading Kelly Christopherson’s blog post on his first days of school with his staff. This is a really important day to set the tone for the year and I wanted to share my thoughts on what we do as a school the first days before students come back.
I start off the first 2 staff days we start off with about 90 minutes of staff meeting. This meeting is to reconnect with staff after the summer and then deal with items that need to be addressed before the end of the year. Then for the rest of the time, staff is encouraged to go do whatever they need to do to get ready for the kids. We have a divisional meeting on the last day (for about two hours) before the students come back with all the teachers in the district, but other than that, the rest is for teachers to prepare.
Now some of you may be thinking that this is the best time to really move forward with the new initiatives for the school year. My question is, how many of your teachers are really engaged at this moment? Their minds are most likely in their classroom and what they need to get done. I guarantee you that if I had meetings for those 2 days that teachers would still be prepared but they might also be wiped by the time the students are there. I want my staff to be as energized and welcoming to our students as possible all the time, but especially those first few days of school. Even with all of this time, they are still going to stay long after the “regular” work day. The last thing I want is a teacher staying until midnight the day before school starts. They need their energy! If I am truly thinking about what is best for our students, I want my staff as well rested (although most of us can’t sleep the night before) and prepared as possible for the kids.
As a classroom teacher, I remember just thinking during our principal speaking about all the stuff I wanted to do with my classroom and what I needed to prepare. I thought about this so much, that my mind often faded during when others were speaking. As teachers we want to set the BEST tone with our students those first few days in the classroom so it can be carried on throughout the year.
We have a very comprehensive professional development plan that we implement throughout the year, but how much change are we going to make in that first day? If our focus is on building relationships with our staff, take as much as you can off their plate at the beginning of the year so that they can feel as prepared as possible. The respect you show towards them will be reciprocated.
Just my two cents.