Your teachers are incredible talents.
Ultimately, they are the stars of schools. The Principal (and Vice Principal) are the agents. School leaders, we have to launch the stardom of teachers for the sake of students.
I know you feel pressure. You have new teachers, possibly even inexperienced ones. You want them to have and learn and practice everything yesterday.
However, I know you know this: the ‘rush’ makes it worse.
As school leaders, in order to ‘create the team no one wants to leave,’ we must unlock the soul of the team. It will take time.
Your teachers do not need you to teach them more about theory, teaching, pedagogy, or learning design, as much as they need you to model, encourage, inspire, relax, and envision a powerful new future. They’ll do the rest!
Here are 8 innovative ways to model, encourage, inspire, relax, and envision a human-centered future in education this year!
Model the way of health
One spring late afternoon after work, one of my teachers caught me out on a run. It was my ‘huff-n-puff club for one.’ As you may know, I’m not an athlete. I was out on a 5km run. I looked and felt like I was dying. But, I smiled and waved. I continue to persist. Why? Because my health is my top priority. And, I want my team members to catch me. Additionally, let’s take breaks, eat well, incorporate spiritual practices, and prioritize what it takes to be well. Our example is permission.
Incorporate breathwork into every meeting
Signal to your team that it is safe. We don’t need to persist in fight or flight. Our body does not need cortisol and adrenaline all of the time. Invite them to breathe and relax before requiring them to learn and embody a new way forward. Based on the last three years, what if the greatest gift you can give your teachers this year is an invitation to ‘be’ well? What if your compassion created a team no one wanted to leave? Not sure how to facilitate gentle and relaxing breathwork because you’re not in that space either. No problem. Let Jeff of Take a Breath for Schools help in our all-new Passageways – Powerful Team-Building Experiences.
Use mini-lessons to get content across
Keep your direct instruction to 5-7min. Then, release teachers to talk, digest, apply, or reflect. Dyads and triads work best. Mix them up and ensure everyone gets a voice. Find time-efficient ways to get critical information out. Flip your meetings. Use videos, songs, and poetry. Invite book studies. Don’t be a ‘sage-on-the-stage’ while you tell your team to facilitate learning as a ‘guide on the side.’ Want some easy mini-lessons on hot topics for teaching teams, check out Passageways – Powerful Team-Building Experiences. They’re ready-to-go!
We don’t learn through experience. We learn by reflecting on experience. Giving teachers opportunities to reflect on practice, their work, relationships, or students, both individually and in small groups is essential for teacher growth. One of my favorite team inquiries is “What are you noticing?” I recently blogged about the anatomy of a ‘check-in,’ an act of reflecting individually and in small groups. Don’t have the time to design creative check-ins? The Passageways – Powerful Team-Building Experiences provides you with journal prompts for each month. Just throw up the slide and go.
Ask teachers about team meetings
I used a ‘Plus-Delta (+/𝚫) protocol at the end of most meetings. This protocol allowed me to hear what they liked about the meeting (plus) and what they recommended to change (delta). Each person spoke for him/herself, but we could easily see trends. You know what they told me often, “We love it when you give us time to collaborate.”
Connect with the land – Indigenize the experience
Walk, dip your toe in a local pond, work under a tree, find a bird, or plant something. These practices of connecting with nature also are nourishing. It’s your job to nourish the team. Why not organize this and do it together? Exchanging fluorescents for sunshine is worth it. It is a subversive act of wellness. You want to retain them, right?
Transcend the Mind for Team Creativity
Have you ever felt your team was stuck? Does overwhelm, uncertainty, and risk-taking throw them over the edge? Do the pressures from the classroom keep them on the edge? There’s another way. It is less about a cognitive understanding, rationale, or decision. If this is a new idea, Passageways, our new team-building experiences, can be used with your team to unlock a new vision for the way forward. Our expert, Jeff of Take a Breath for Schools has given you everything you need to help your team move to the best places for education (ie focus, diversity, curiosity, compassion, etc).
One of my favorite books of all time is The Art of Possibility. I have read it twice with my team and two more times with mastermind groups. One of the ‘possibility practices’ the Zanders outline is a reminder not to take yourself too seriously. So, laugh, dress up, make faces, and unleash your inner child. Ultimately there’s joy in the journey.
For the sake of the children,