I need to keep my finger on a couple of the conversations going on in other posts here. To me, we’re getting at some of the important philosophical foundations of what it means to be in school. But I woke up this morning thinking about an issue that I tackled last week around mental health and the teaching profession. It has to do with teacher isolation–a long-standing challenge for teachers and administrators alike.
I’m not sure what happens in your school, but in most of the places that I’ve hung my hat, the same morning scenario plays itself out. Teachers arrive, get ready for their day by checking mailboxes, email, announcement boards. They might drop in to chat with another teacher, but the goal is always to get to individual classrooms to prepare to meet individual groups of students–their students for the year!
But, then I got to thinking about other workplaces: hospitals, police precincts–especially those that would come under the category of providing a social service. Many of the professionals that begin their days (or nights) in these spaces gather as a group to discuss any issues that may have come up the previous day, any common goals, or any challenges that may be on the horizon for that day or week.
You know, we throw around the phrase community-based schools quite a bit, but I’m thinking that before we reach out and attempt to strengthen our ties with the folks outside our schools, why not come up with strategies that will strengthen the sense of community that lives inside.
I’m thinking that it would be cool to begin each day with a 15 minute gathering of all staff with some of the following goals:
a) to see each other’s faces and make sure everyone is good to go
b) to discuss any issues of which the entire staff needs to be aware
c) to bring to the table any student issues that others may be able to assist with
d) to emphasize the sense that all students in the school are the responsibility of everyone
There are more things that could be built into this, but it would be important not to turn it into a staff meeting–just a brief “checking in” session…everyday!
Of course there would be snacks…there always has to be snacks.
And, of course, there would need to be union approval…that’s just as important as the snacks.
I wonder how school spirit and sense of community might be enhanced if something like this were to begin to happen at my school?
Is there anyone who is doing something similar? Do you have other ideas for mitigating the effects of the teacher isolation which is still a big part of many school communities?
My quick thoughts for a Friday morning.