The period between Christmas break and Spring break can be a challenging time to keep students and teachers upbeat and positive about coming to school each day. These are the “gray days” of the school year and I am not immune to succumbing to these same feelings of burnout and just going through the motions. How do you keep the fire for learning in our schools burning hot throughout the year? Even in the cold and dreary days of February? As leaders in our building, we owe it to our students and teachers to be intentional about creating a school environment that is dynamic and exciting all year long. It is our responsibility to keep our finger on the pulse of our school to recognize when to help energize the troops, keep the creative juices flowing, and spur another celebration-worthy round of learning.
Here are ten ideas for kicking out the mundane and bringing our learning back to life!
Celebrate the Growth
Though we may have not yet arrived at the goal we set out at the beginning of the year, undoubtedly we have moved students forward. It’s easy to overlook the small steps we take as a school if we are not intentional about regularly checking our progress and sharing it with our staff and students. We need to celebrate the victories in our schools, both large and small.
Unsolicited Jeans Day
It’s amazing what a difference a jeans day can make on our morale. And does it have any negative effect on the learning that takes place that day? No. Randomly award a free jeans day to members of your staff for great things you see them doing with their students. Or, send an email out to your staff that announces everybody can wear jeans tomorrow — and make sure you take part, too! Download a Jeans Day coupon that you can give to teachers for special occasions by clicking here.
[tweetthis]”It’s amazing what a difference a jeans day can make on our morale. “[/tweetthis]
30-Day Happy Teacher Challenge
When we focus on the negative, that’s what we’ll get more of. Encourage your staff to take part in the 30-Day Happy Teacher Challenge. My school and I have had fun with this during the month of February, and I’ve even attached incentives in the form of a “Jeans Day Coupon” for every 10 days that they complete. You can download the one-page calendar of activities for free by clicking here.
Take a day and set a schoolwide goal for total number of pages read. March 2nd is National Read Across America Day, corresponding with Dr. Seuss’s birthday, and is a perfect time to keep the focus on reading and fuel some competition between students, classes, grade-levels, and even entire schools! Get dressed like your favorite book characters, bring in guest readers, just drop everything and read! Schools all across the nation participate in this each year and share their ideas for events and activities. Be willing to get involved in the challenge and do some crazy stunt if your school meets their goal!
Provide Lunch/Breakfast for Your Staff
Get your parent organization or student club involved in providing lunch or breakfast for your staff. Not because it’s teacher appreciation week and everybody else is doing it, but just because. Nothing says love and appreciation like comfort food. Mmmm.
Fun Faculty Meeting
Make your next faculty meeting “for entertainment purposes only.” No serious business agenda items, no updates on the latest assessment data, just team building and fun. Get your staff laughing and enjoying being around each other with some activities that get them interacting with people both inside and outside of their normal work groups. We all know that teams that work well together are more effective, more productive, and more successful. Have some fun!
Bring in a performer or group to present to your school and showcase some of the unwritten curriculum we work on each day, such as character development or career exploration.
School Pride Days
Spend a day or a week focused on showcasing your school spirit! Provide an incentive to the class or grade level that has the greatest level of participation. Let your student council or another student organization head up and promote the festivities.
Favorite Pop Day
Send out a quick survey that includes what each staff member’s favorite soft drink is and deliver a cold beverage to them one day. Pop in during class to make the special delivery and show some love!
Take an afternoon and let your students and teachers tackle a beautification project on your campus. It could be cleaning up an area that has been neglected, planting some shrubs, or removing some clutter. Get your community involved and just watch how much you can get accomplished!
Join the Conversation
One of the best parts of doing the podcasts is the opportunity to interact with other lead learners. Each week we pose one question for discussion. This week’s question is below:
How are you and your school working to beat the third quarter slump? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
Dr. Michael Methvin is the principal at Pleasant Hope Elementary School in southwest Missouri. He has served as a building principal since 2005 at both the elementary and secondary levels after beginning his career in education as a business teacher. Prior to moving to the Midwest and becoming an educator, he spent time working in marketing, advertising, and the internet industry in Boston and New York. Currently, Michael enjoys encouraging his team to try new and creative things in their classrooms, hosting the Lead Learner Podcast, and spending time with his family.
Dr. Shane Dublin has been the principal at Bolivar Middle School for the past 10 years. As an educator, he has a passion for being involved in conversations centering around learning, innovation, taking risks and bringing about the best in those around him. He believes the “whatever it takes” philosophy applies to all areas within the academic community and strives to challenge all students, provide interventions for struggling learners and nurture kids toward becoming responsible and productive citizens.
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