Finding the Golden Ticket: Creating Big and Small Opportunities to Recognize Staff. #RenLead #SAVMP

This month I have had the amazing opportunity to participate in a Voxer book study with Brad Gustafson’s new book “Renegade Leadership”.  While reflecting on ways in which I can improve relationships and culture within our school I was drawn to the connection of celebrating staff in big and small ways.  Brad shares this about being intentional as a leader in celebrating people:
Showing authentic appreciation through shared experiences is an investment in the very culture of a school.    Brad Gustafson  Renegade Leadership 
So in no particular order here are just a few ways we have recognized our own “Golden Tickets” at Woodson:
Staff Celebrations:
  • PLC Celebrations:  As a strong foundation to our PLC implementation we take time throughout the year to celebrate the wins-big and small-in our implementation of PLC’s.  Last winter we hosted an “Ugly Sweater” reflection at our local arts studio. Each PLC team either presented a small skit or reflection of their learning while we had treats and connected as a staff.  Last spring-we had a reflection on our east lawn with patio chairs, dilly bars and Thinking Maps to share out how our first Common Formative Assessment went.  This fall-it was creating a themed pumpkin from our favorite children’s book as a way to make connections to learning in non-traditional ways and build relationships.    The component of Experiential Learning  for all participants was very relevant and prevalent in each of these experiences.  The staff all had an investment and purpose for what they were doing-and created windows for future collaboration and extension of the learning after the celebration ended.
  • Staff Challenges:  Hungry Hungry Hippo (yes we did that) and  Breakout EDU.  These have been excellent ways to build trust within new staff teams.  Both activities were held as opportunities to get to know new staff on your team.  The Collaboration to accomplish the task at hand and build relationships with others was well worth the investment of time and materials.
  • Staff Socials:  Holiday Party, Patio PD, Halloween-Family Trick or Treat.  We have also learned the value of just having fun to have fun.  Including opportunities for us to also invite our own family into our school ‘world’ has helped each of us learn a little more about who we are outside of our classrooms.
Staff Recognition:
  • Staff Critter Cards and Drawings:  Our PBIS Leadership team has post it pads all over the building for any staff member to write a little note about something-big or small-another staff member did for them.  During our PBIS meetings we draw 5 of those cards for either the Critter Parking Spot or other prizes that have been donated by local business (gift cards, books) or early out/hour off passes staff can use (and I cover the class).  All notes are then give to staff members and most are proudly displayed in their rooms.
  • The Caring Bear:  As another part to our PBIS plan during our monthly student assemblies one staff member recognizes another staff member via the Caring Bear.  It is a traveling trophy that has special messages and notes from everyone who has received it-three years of history and counting.
  • Positive Notes Home:  Last spring I wrote 2-3 notes per week to staff members and had them mailed to their homes.  The texts (and sometimes tears) of appreciate have now made this a staple to my yearly recognition.
  • Showing up:  Sometimes just attending special events in staff member’s lives means the world to them.  I have been able to support staff through their children’s graduations, sporting events and even one staff members first art show.  Just like students making that personal connection to our staff members interests goes a really long way in establishing meaningful relationships-after the end of the day bell rings.
  • Morning Drink Surprise:  This fall we sent out a google form for everyone’s favorite morning drink-my goal is to surprise each staff member before the winter break with their favorite beverage.
Many of these I have learned from my PLN while some we have created all on our own. Each of these however has made a huge impact on building relationships with each other while supporting learning at any age or stage in life.
Leading isn’t always about being the one out in front-sometimes leading is about being the one in the crowd cheering the others on and forward in their own learning.

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