Your staff may feel “spring fever” more than ever this year. The pandemic has adults feeling a range of emotions whether it be stress, fear or anxiety. As a school leader, it’s crucial that you counter these feelings with positivity and opportunities to connect. With many school teams working remotely, connecting as a staff or a grade level team can be difficult and could feel impersonal if not done with intention.
→ Check out other ways we support schools in virtual and hybrid learning
Kickboard’s team is also working remotely and we have gotten creative when it comes to virtually connecting as a team. As you and your leadership team are planning staff meetings for the spring semester here are some activities that we have seen success with at Kickboard to keep our staff feeling connected to each other while working remotely.
Restorative Circles for School Staff
Restorative circles are a great way to foster community and communication with staff. With its roots in Restorative Practices, circles focus on building community and communication by providing every staff member a chance to let their voice be heard.
- One staff member will lead the circles virtually. The facilitator will set the expectations for the circle. Some circle expectations could be:
- Speak and listen from the heart
- What’s shared in the circle stays in the circle
- Minimize multitasking
- Cameras on
- The facilitator will virtually present a list of staff members’ names in random order and that will be the order that the group will follow to answer the question that is posed by the facilitator. Some examples of circle questions are
- “What gets you excited about life?”
- “What is one lesson you learned the hard way?”
- “What is one of your personal values?”
- As each staff member shares their answer one at a time, other staff are listening and gaining insight into their co-workers. If a staff member feels a question is too personal they are allowed to pass.
- After all staff members have answered the question, the facilitator will close out the circle with a short closing activity such as a silly game of Simon Says, or have each person share a word that is on their mind depending on the seriousness of the circle questions.
Positive Knowledge Sharing
Ted Talks: Staff Version
Most people have passions outside of work that they enjoy sharing and could give a 5-10 minute presentation about. At Kickboard, we give a short amount of time at the beginning of meetings for staff to present a powerpoint or an activity that co-workers watch and listen to via Zoom. This gives team members the opportunity to learn about what a colleague likes to do outside of work and maybe learn something new (a win-win!). Kickboard staff members presented on a variety of topics including the history of yoga, tips for organization, mindfulness practices and baking sweet treats.
Virtual Events: Food & Games
Virtual Themed Snack Hour
Since we are all spending more time at home, we aren’t eating lunch together or gathering for happy hour after work. Kickboard held an 80’s themed virtual snack hour and staff dressed in their interpretation of 80’s style clothing and munched on their favorite quarantine snack while answering trivia questions and funny icebreaker questions. Other themes could include: school or sport/spirit dress, dress like a nerd, or hometown heroes.
Games are a fun way to engage at the beginning of staff meetings and provide a chance for everyone to loosen up and laugh. Some of the virtual games that we play are:
- Pictionary — 5-10 minutes before the meeting staff are emailed a word they will need to draw and reminded to have a writing utensil and a piece of paper handy. 60 seconds is set on a timer and everyone draws their word. Then each staff member presents their drawing and colleagues have to virtually raise their hand to guess each other’s drawing. This is a great way to see how creative and innovative your colleagues can get!
- Family Feud/Scattergories — The team is told a category and a letter of the alphabet. Some examples are “Types of cheese that start with the letter H.” “Things smaller than a car that start with the letter C.” A timer is set for 90 seconds and staff is then sent to small group break-out rooms to compile their list as a team. Then staff comes back together as a whole and each team presents their list. The group with the longest list wins!
- Storytime — Staff virtually collaborate on a story together. First, a funny or unique story starter is presented, such as “It was a dark and stormy night in the city. Sarah walked quietly to the kitchen when she suddenly heard a knock at the door…” The team is then broken into breakout rooms of three to four people for 4 to 5 minutes and told to finish writing the story together. One person is the scribe for the group and another staff member presents the story. After the timer is up staff is brought back together as a whole and each group presents their story. This is a great way to get 100% to participation and to get those creative writing juices flowing!
Positive Rewards & Virtual Shoutouts
Weekly roses and shoutouts
At Kickboard we do this in every team meeting to make sure we’re focusing on the positive. Staff give each other virtual shoutouts highlighting when in the past week another colleague assisted them or did something awesome. Bonus points if your staff can give shoutouts to colleagues they don’t directly work with daily or even students! Roses can be either work related or personal. Staff share one short rose after sharing their shoutouts.
These are just a few ideas that have been a hit at Kickboard and kept our company culture strong during the pandemic. You can use some of these ideas to infuse some fun and team bonding into the first few minutes of your virtual staff meetings. Intentionally planning these activities out provides a structure for building a positive culture within your staff. School staff have had to adapt to enormous amounts of change this year, but connecting with other team members in a deep and meaningful way can be done quickly and simply with just a little forethought.