3 Activities For Your Staff Days to Kick Off 2022
My 18 year old starts a new job today - and I am dying to give her the 'Mum's top 5 tips for making a good impression on day one!'. I suspect the eye rolls might come thick and fast.
So feel free to eye roll - but here are my top tips for easy ways to set your school year off. They may seem very obvious to some, but sometimes it's nice to have a recipe given to you rather than to have to think of what to cook.
Some interactive activities to help you and your staff :
- HAVE GREAT CONVERSATIONS
- SET THE SCENE AND GET A BIT EXCITED!
PS - It's all about making the space in the agenda for people to BE and SEE each other.
With the blur of Term 4 2021 behind us, I hope you have been able to refresh and recuperate from what was surely one of the most exhausting terms experienced. I witnessed countless schools leaders, teachers and support staff fronting up each day no matter what the situation, giving their all for their communities.
And now we look to 2022, with what I believe people need most from us - realist optimism, a term popularised by Jim Collins, author of From Good to Great.
Realist optimism is that adaptive and flexible stance that looks challenges in the eye with belief in our ability to deal with whatever is coming, a strategy to do so, and an excitement in the end vision. It links strongly to Nassim Taleb's concept of anti fragile - our capability to cope with the stressors and challenges of life increases as we move through them.
Drawing from Chapter Three of Ferocious Warmth, I also look to Seth Godin, marketing and tribe expert and one of the world's most prolific entrepreneurial thinkers. He sums up optimism as a leadership attribute in one paragraph:
'Optimism is an attitude and a choice, it involves context and focus. We're not deluding ourselves with the reassurance that everything is going to be okay (because that's not productive). Instead, we're committed to finding things we can contribute to, work on and improve. We're devoted to seeking out useful lessons and to discovering where the benefit of the doubt might be helpful. Positive thinking doesn't solve every problem. But it's a much better tool that negative thinking.'
Having this type of thinking in our staff culture right from the get go of 2022 is going to help with whatever lies ahead. Here are three SIMPLE things that are some of my favourites to do with educators at the start of a school year (enter eye roll now....)
1) STORYTELLING and EMOTIONAL CONNECTION:
Priming our brains to connect and learn together is the first step in re-establishing the trust and psychological safety at the start of a new year. It also allows new people to feel more comfortable as soon as possible, as they share these memories from the school break.
Have people gather in mixed groups of 4 or 5, either seated or standing (I find getting people up and moving around to find different people to speak with shifts energy and charges the room with a buzz).
Give them a list of feelings and ask everyone to share one specific story from their break to the group.
You will usually hear some laughter and deep listening as people dredge up stories and connect back in to that emotion. Emotions are contagious, so see if some of the teams that had lots of laughter and joy stories are willing to share with the whole group. As Victor Borg said: 'Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.' This activity is a great kick off one to do.
2) STORYTELLING OUR JOURNEY - template for download below
(If you've read The Buzz, this activity is also shared in the book. A PDF of The Buzz is available for you further down this page)
The end of 2021 was a blur for many and a hard slog. Many schools haven't had the chance to reflect and celebrate the achievements of the year. Use this activity to sit in reflection and amazement at the huge challenges and milestones you all worked through last year.
Using large paper and markers, or download the template below and print on A3 or larger, have mixed groups share their perspectives and stories from the ebb and flow of 2021 at the school. This is a brilliant thing for new people to hear what occurred at the school.
Use the legend to the side to help guide the discussion and pin point it on the journey line. What were the strategies you put in place to achieve your outcomes? What did you learn along the way which changed what you were doing? What were some key events that were important to the direction you took?
This is also a good activity to frame up what deep listening, curiosity and testing assumptions looks like prior to starting the discussion, and ensuring that everyone at the table gets a voice. A nice reminder of a collaborative discussion, not one hijacked by a couple of louder voices. People will have had different experiences and perspectives, so it is a great lesson in validating where people were at and the achievements of different parts of the school.
3) MASTERSTOCK - What strengths do we bring?
The strength of our collective is determined by the diverse strengths we bring and whether they get used or not! The Collaborative Masterstock metaphor helps teams remember that for a strong challenge culture of growth, we need hot, sweet, salty and sour thinking, based on clear professional values that drive our behaviours.
Below you will find an article on Collaboration - Not Just Cooperation and a Masterstock PDF. Both of these are resources from the new online portal: The Buzz Academy, which is full of videos, resources and a global Community of Practice, designed to support learning leaders build a culture of learning.
Have teams do this activity to kick off the year acknowledging and highlighting the strengths of the individual and how it contributes to the collective.
I hope these might help you to use as they are, or inspire you to come up with your own versions that connect the team together, celebrate the past and get excited about working together in 2022!
Love to know how you go.
Click the links below to download Journey Map template, The Buzz eBook and Masterstock article and activity.
The Buzz eBook