While teachers are hard at work creating community in the classroom, take time to reflect on the culture of community you have created with your staff.
- Survey the staff to see how they feel about the level of community between their coworkers. Include space for teachers to share community building ideas they would like to explore with coworkers.
- Use this information to alter the agenda of your staff meetings. Instead of bringing staff together to talk about the things they are doing wrong, use that time to build community. It might even be possible to use some of the issues you need to address as a brainstorming/community-building activity during a staff meeting. Otherwise, address issues with individual staff directly.
- Create an appreciation program that allows coworkers to acknowledge each other for the strengths they contribute to the team. This could be in the form of a bullet board, newsletter article, or verbal recognition during staff meetings.
- Plan a pot luck or a night out at a community ballpark. This will allow coworkers to meet and interact with their coworkers’ families.
- Participate as a team in a fundraising walk-a-thon. This is great marketing for your program, promotes healthy living, and contributes to a good cause.
- Create a professional book club. Meet once a month to discuss the assigned chapter and ways to incorporate the ideas in the chapter into the program. You could also use professional articles, which might be more manageable and time efficient. Check out http://www.naeyc.org/tyc/ for excellent, short articles you could use.
- Encourage employees to take the lead in planning an annual professional development calendar. Give staff the responsibility for picking relevant topics and planning events.
- Delegate other roles whenever possible so that each employee feels like a contributing member of the team. Encourage employees to lead staff meetings, share information from a recently attended training, facilitate family committee meetings, etc.
On that note, also consider how well you have been able to create a sense of community between the families enrolled in your program. Do they all have a sense of belonging and value? Do they all feel safe and that they have a voice? Stay tuned for more on family involvement strategies in upcoming newsletters or sign up for one of the CCEI courses on this topic.