This time of year, as teachers, we are very focused on preparing our classrooms and planning wonderful activities and experiences for our students. In my dual role of being a teacher and the Educational Director, I need to welcome the staff and prepare them for a wonderful year of working together. Meetings are long and plentiful at the beginning of the year; medical training, procedures, setting goals, etc. During this time I try to insert as many “perks” and playful times as possible.
I always present my staff with a little “back to school” gift. In the past this has ranged from a pretty new notebook, a silly pen, lotion, a flowering plant, a personalized mug for our kitchen and so on. This year I was stumped for an idea. We’d had a bit of a rough start with the hurricane affecting our school so I wanted something to make them really feel appreciated. I ended up giving them this goodie bag with a variety of items in it, each representing a part of the year ahead. They really enjoyed it and actually told me I should post it on my blog, so here it is….
The words were:
A Goodie Bag to thank you for all that you do for others
and to remind you how special you are to CCNS!
It’s been a rough start to this school year,
the files are to remind you that rough patches can be smoothed.
You will be passing out many hugs this year; you deserve to receive some too.
The 100 Grand bar represents the fact that you are worth
so much more than we can pay you!
The mints are to remind you to stay fresh-keep an open mind
and be available to change.
The magic eraser represents your willingness to take risks
and learn from mistakes.
The Emergen-C is to remind you the importance of taking care
of yourself this year-no sick days J
The Luna Bar is for energy! Keep it up.
The lip gloss is a little nurturing for you because you
provide so much nurturing for others.
The mask is for pampering. You work so hard.
Take some time to pamper yourself.
The Shout wipes are because life and play are messy!
A dirty teacher isn’t always a happy teacher so clean up!
And the lottery ticket is to wish you good luck this year!
The other part of our back to school ritual is to have a little ice breaker activity before our long meeting. We’ve tried different things over the years, but this year with a new staff member entering our pretty tight knit group, I decided to try and play with some information we didn’t already know about each other, while getting to know our new colleague at the same time. Now keep in mind that my staff is pretty close and I have gotten to know their personalities quite well (our new staff member is a former parent of an alum), so I could be a bit more outlandish with the questions I chose. I sent the staff a survey with about 10 questions on it for them to fill out and return; favorite beverage, most embarrassing moment, celebrity crush, favorite art material at our school, ideal job other than the one they have now, sports played in high school, etc. Then I used their answers to create a bingo board. We had to walk around and ask yes or no questions to each other.
If someone answered yes, they could initial the square to which you were referring. Whoever was able to fill a row, or column or diagonal first¸ won the game, and, of course, a little additional prize.
It was really entertaining to get to know things about each other that we didn’t know..and some of these women I have worked with for nine years! It was great fun, got us laughing and smiling and open to tackle to hard work of the day.
It is serious business preparing a school to open. But as play advocates, it is important that we nourish the playful adult as well. I’d love to hear about what is done at your school to playfully welcome the staff.