The weeks just before the start of school is a great time in the educational year. Everyone is full of hope and excitement, and the entire staff is focused on making the upcoming school year the best it can be.
With everybody coming back to the building for workshops and classroom setup, naturally, a lot of time is dedicated to getting-to-know-you and professional development activities-some more valuable than others. Want to get your fellow educators ready for the new school year in a serious way? Give some of these activities a try.
Create Temporary PLCs
Professional learning communities (PLCs) tend to follow predictable groupings, either by grade level or subject area. This activity gives your staff a chance to mix things up a bit. To start, simply have everyone pick numbers out of a hat. Then, give this mixed-bag group one single topic on which to focus for a limited time (an hour is a good place to start). You can do several rotations of this activity, switching up either the groups, the topics, or both! It provides a great opportunity for your teachers to share and hear from colleagues they might not talk to very often and to be exposed to new ideas and areas of expertise.
Host Your Own Shark Tank
These days, you are hard pressed to find an educator who doesn’t have a favorite edtech app or tool. Take advantage of this! The premise is simple: volunteers present their personal favorite in a Shark Tank–like short presentation, trying to sell their colleagues on the usefulness and value of the tool. Don’t force anyone to participate. However, you’ll be surprised at how many teachers enthusiastically raise their hands when you ask.
Take a Field Trip
In many schools, particularly those in underserved neighborhoods, the teachers have never ventured outside of the school’s gates. That’s unfortunate, as schools are a huge part of the communities in which they are located. So, organize a quick field trip! Have teachers and administrators who are more knowledgeable about the local area show your entire staff some of the local landmarks and give them a taste of the general flavor of the neighborhood. At a minimum, those teachers will now know what students are talking about when they reference a certain street, park, or restaurant.
Complete a Volunteer Project
Now, more than ever, schools should serve as the collective center of their communities. Nothing builds that goodwill more effectively than helping out in the neighborhood with a group service project. It can be as simple as painting a neglected building or something more involved like volunteering time at a local food shelf. Bonus points if you can involve neighborhood leaders or parents. Not only will you gain a positive perception within the community, but your teachers will have a valuable opportunity to work together as a team and build comradery.
Interested in more ideas to make the environment in your school one that breeds success? Check out this post on Quick Steps to Improve School Culture!