For Administrators: Start the Year Strong

Table of Contents

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Resources

Student Walk-Out Guidelines

School Discipline and Restorative Practices

Start the School Year Strong
Prompts for your first 5 staff meetings of the year

Activity 1
Introduction

Introduction

This activity takes only five minutes. We’ve included a suggestion on how to have staff pair up effectively. If you choose this option, plan for a couple of extra minutes.

You’ll need some kind of bell to mark time.

Program Overview (Read to staff or reword this to be your own as long as the message conveyed holds to the intent):

This is always a high point, when we’re all gathering together in anticipation of the coming year. I want to facilitate this activity with you a few times at the beginning of the year to help us get off to a great start. These activities will only take a few minutes and include several goals involving staff and school climate:

  • Returning staff and new staff will get to know each other
  • New staff can get the feel of our building
  • We’ll reinforce the benefits of taking time to listen deeply to one another — even if it’s just a few minutes
  • We’ll learn what we have in common in strengths, vision, and what brought us to education in the first place
  • We’ll see the value in helping students do the same: how helpful it is for students to have the chance to come to know all peers in a given classroom, for students in the margins to be more included in the mainstream, and for popular students to come to respect those they might never have taken time to greet otherwise

Quick Method for Staff to Pair Up:

  • Everyone stand in a circle around the room. (If you can have it be a space without desks / chairs in the middle, that’s best but do what you can. If you have more than 25 staff, consider having them groupie two or more circles so this goes faster.)
  • We’re going to go around the circle quickly just giving a first name and where you were born. (Let someone start and go around the circle from there.)
  • Now, look at the faces in the circle. Some people you may know, some you probably don’t know so well. We’re going to pair up so make eye contact with someone you know least and pair with them. You can either stand together facing one another if you’d like to sit down, that’s fine. When you pair up, exchange your first names and then wait for instructions. (Give them a chance to pair up.)
prompt

Prompt

Ring the bell to get their attention.

I’m going to give you a prompt. One of you will be speaking while the other only listens. This part is not a conversation! Each of you has two uninterrupted minutes to respond to the prompt. If you are the listener first only listen. Don’t try to plan what you’ll say when it is your turn, and for sure don’t plan on how you’ll answer what your partner says. This is a time for each of you to share your own reply to the prompt.

I’ll ring the bell at 1:45 so you h ave 15 seconds to finish your thought. I’ll ring it again in 15 seconds and motion that you are now to trade and the person who was speaking will now only listen. Again, I’ll give you a 15-second warning bell that your time is ending.

For the last minute, you’ll look at what you had in common in your stories. THAT part will be a conversation. Any questions?

Field any questions.

The best part about being in education is….

Ring the bell to end the second speaker’s time.

Connecting

Connecting

What did you have in common? You’ll have 1 minute to talk together about what you each shared in response to the prompt.

Ring the bell after 1 minute.

challenge

Weekly Challenge

Today as you set up your rooms and ready yourselves for the coming year, notice all the additional reasons you went into education. All of those reasons translate into benefits for your students.

Thanks so much for your participation today!

Activity 2
prompt

Prompt

Today, you might use the same circle technique for pairing up, beginning with first names, but this time perhaps a country the’d most like to visit. Remind staff to pair up with someone new. During the prompt, they’ll each have 2 minutes to speak and 2 minutes to listen. Remind staff of any additional instructions from the first activity that would be helpful.

Some of the reasons I have gratitude in my life are…

After both have had their talking time and you ring the bell to end the second speaker’s time.

Connecting

Connecting

What did you have in common? You’ll have 1 minute to talk together about what you each shared in response to the prompt.

Ring the bell after 1 minute.

challenge

Weekly Challenge

As you continue to ready yourself for incoming students, let yourself be aware of the many reasons you have gratitude, not just for your work, but in all facets of your life.

Activity 3
prompt

Prompt

Today, remind staff to pair up with someone new. During the prompt, they’ll each have2 minutes to speak and 2 minutes to listen. Remind them of any additional instructions from the first activity that might be helpful.

A goal I’m really looking forward to accomplishing in my classroom this year is…

Connecting

Connecting

What did you have in common? You’ll have 1 minute to talk together about what you each shared in response to the prompt.

challenge

Weekly Challenge

You may have some tough days this year. Jot down this goal you have, and let it be your inspiration in the days ahead. Make a note of your partner’s goals as well so you can check in on how things are going in a few weeks.

Activity 4
prompt

Prompt

Today, remind staff to pair up with someone new. During the prompt, they’ll each have2 minutes to speak and 2 minutes to listen. Remind them of any additional instructions from the first activity that might be helpful.

One thing that keeps me awake about my job or worries me about the kids is…

Connecting

Connecting

Was there anything you found you had in common about your stories? You’ll have 1 minute to talk together about what you each shared in response to the prompt.

challenge

Weekly Challenge

We all have heartaches and difficulties in our jobs. Knowing we aren’t alone is helpful! No matter how much someone else seems to have it together, remember today that we all need encouragement. And that we’re working together towards the same goal — helping our kids.

Activity 5
prompt

Prompt

Today, remind staff to pair up with someone new. During the prompt, they’ll each have2 minutes to speak and 2 minutes to listen. Remind them of any additional instructions from the first activity that might be helpful.

What is your greatest strength and when is a time you used it effectively?

Connecting

Connecting

What did you have in common? How are you different? You’ll have 1 minute to talk together about what you each shared in response to the prompt.

challenge

Weekly Challenge

Sometimes our greatest strengths are someone else’s weaknesses. It’s this interplay that makes us strongest as a whole. When you see someone using their strength, express your appreciation for it.