By Sandra Boyes, Crescent School
Have you ever noticed the energy level of your staff at the start of a staff meeting? Everyone comes into the meeting room with paperwork and coffee; while they are compliant to be there, there is a “to do” list running through their minds, even as you call the meeting to order.
When I introduced mapping years ago, it was at its own, dedicated meeting. We held the meeting in a different space (the library), and I provided snacks (cheese and crackers, fruit, and bowls of candies). Changing the setting helps to change the tone and the energy in the room.
Sometimes, as administrators, we feel we need to have all the answers. At the back of our minds, if we are bringing in something new, the optics of not having everything perfectly “mapped” out could present as a lack of planning.
Consider breaking your staff or core team into small groups, with timetables and schedules in hand. Task them with looking at their own lives and seeing where mapping, meeting, and planning time could occur. This shows that you value their time, and removes a level of “top down” management for this important work.
Sample solutions: have grade teachers share map data entry, dedicate staff meetings to mapping, hire coverage teachers to free teacher time, dedicate one teacher planning period to mapping, have an early dismissal day…
If you have dedicated mapping time, it is incredibly powerful to do your mapping at the same time and in the same place as other teachers. When you’re in the same room you can coach each other, and the number of “oh by the way…” conversations will make it all worth while. Talk about a value-added proposition!
Map your personal goals against the school’s strategic plan, organize your development time month by month, teacher classroom visits, etc.
We all have deadlines. As an administrator, you “live” in many different places in your school’s culture. How do you keep track of it all?
Map it by month, or by theme! Have all of your speeches and full school addresses organized in Atlas: Curriculum Night, First Day of School, Yearbook Messages, Prize Day speech, newsletter blogs, etc.
Never underestimate the importance feeling valued.
If a teacher does not feel valued, or does not have a clear understanding of how the work she is doing adds value to the school (or to his or her work in the school), quality work and positive relationships will not flourish. How do you show you care?
-Celebrate often with Friday muffin mornings or afternoon snacks. Give out raffle tickets for a draw for meeting mapping, “early bird” deadlines (prize – you dismiss their class at the end of the day, or teach a class for them!)
-Personal Thank You notes left in a mailbox add a personal touch.
-Read teacher’s maps. Leave them a word of encouragement. Celebrate their work. Can you imagine a teacher never marking a student’s assignments?
A Review of Tips to Make Your Staff Meetings Successful
- Move your dedicated curriculum meeting to its own dedicated location
- Provide snacks (it’s not bribery, it’s positive reinforcement)
- Break it down… small groups, realistic time frames, dedicated mapping times
- Map in the same room as other teachers… conversations and company
- Map your own personal goals alongside school objectives/standards
- Don’t just map curriculum, map your school’s PD/parent events to better help you prepare for the year