Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Make the gloom go away

I believe it was Gandhi who said "Be the change you wish to see in the world". It is in that light that I would like to share some low-cost and/or free things that can be done to make the gloom of rainy mornings go away to help improve the school climate within your buildings.

Last night, the #iledchat (9pm CST every Monday) discussed school climate. We had a great turn-out and the moderating/development team of Kathy Melton, Kevin Rubenstein, Jill Maraldo, and I are ecstatic about the increasing involvement of people across the world coming to participate in the weekly chat. If you would like to see the archive of the chat, please check out the storify link.

The discussion began with what can you do as a teacher or leader to create a positive school climate and went from there. It was refreshing to see that so many educators, both classroom teachers and building leaders, saw it was their responsibility to contribute to a positive school climate. They really lived the Gandhi quote. As Mr Z (Josh) stated: "[I] tell myself every day I decided how my day starts".

During the chat we asked the question about what programs/activities did you do that have added to a positive learning environment. There were some great ideas. Below, some of those ideas are included with some of my ideas that were low cost or free that can help improve school climate. While my high school economics teacher would remind me, "Nothing in life is free. There is cost associated with everything". I am focusing on ideas that have low monetary costs.
  • 15 minute meetings - Teacher share successes and challenges in a 1:1 meeting.
  • Surveys of staff mood with a report out and solution generating sessions
  • Surprising a group with treats (homemade or store bought)
  • Administrators sub for teachers to let them go home early
  • Administrators go out an start cars/scrape ice on snowy, icy days
  • Meet teachers in the parking lot with an umbrella on a rainy day
  • Hold a staff talent-show for the kids. The experience will bring many people together.
  • Know when to listen and when to try and solve a problem, but provide TIME and OPPORTUNITY for this
  • Send a quick birthday email
  • 'Atta Boy notes when someone does something of note...you decide what is something of note
  • Staff friendly competitions (athletic, artistic, trivia)
  • Community service projects
These are some ideas. Obviously, there are MANY MORE. Start here to improve your school climate. A principal of mine worked to build a climate around the Fish Philosophy: Be there, Make their day, Play, and Choose your attitude. http://www.charthouse.com/content.aspx?nodeid=22610 How often do you feel you are playing at work? You made the CHOICE to be there? A local (self) change in attitude can permeate throughout the building.

Overall, find a way to make sure EVERYONE get recognized. Everyone is special in some manner.