It’s important to go above and beyond in welcoming your staff back to school as the new school year approaches. Taking that time to make them feel appreciated and welcomed will go a long way toward setting a positive tone for the school year. Let’s take a look at some ideas.
Write a Welcoming Note
Writing a personal note is a simple and effective way to welcome your staff back. You can give them the note on the first day they return from summer break or wait until the first day of school. If you have a large number of staff, you might want to get started now or get some help. If you need a template, check out this Welcome Back to School Note that can be copied and modified. In the note, tell your staff how excited you are for the new school year and how thankful you are for them. Your note will go a long way in showing them how much you appreciate them. In addition, it will help build those strong relationships between you and your team.
Have an Informal First Day Back
There are a ton of meetings when staff come back from summer break. Why not have an informal first day back? Do some ice breakers and getting-to-know-you activities, provide lunch, and keep the schedule light. While I know there is a lot of information to cover at the beginning of school and schedules can be full, remember that the first day back is hard. Some staff might be anxious, so this will help take the pressure off. You’ll find that a lot can still be accomplished even if the first day back is informal.
Give a Self-Care Kit
The start of the school year can be stressful. Give your staff a self-care kit to start the year off right. You can include things like a mug, instant coffee or tea bags, hand lotion, lip balm, gift cards, energy bars, and other snacks.
Another thing you can add to the self-care kit is a gratitude jar. A gratitude jar is a jar filled with reminders of what you’re grateful for. Using small pieces of paper, your staff can write down what they’re thankful for and add a note or two to their jar each week. They can visit the jar whenever they need encouragement and pull out a note or two. Gratitude reminds us of what we have, and research shows that staying grateful can improve our mental health. You can even set up a table where staff can decorate their jars.
Get to Know Your Teachers
Building relationships with and getting to know your staff is critical. Give your team an opportunity to share special facts about themselves. Icebreaker and team-building activities are perfect examples of how to learn more about your staff.
In addition, have them complete a form that tells you even more about them. The form can include questions like, “What is your favorite snack?” This will help you personalize appreciation gifts throughout the year. Here is an example of things to include on your form.
Create a Memorable “Welcome Back” Video
In this blog post by Dr. Bruce Ellis, you can find ways to welcome your staff back that take little effort but some creativity. You could use Flip to introduce yourself to your team. You could even create a YouTube video and post it online. If you don’t like to be in front of a camera, you can still inspire your staff with video. Explore a variety of inspirational videos at http://bit.ly/educatorsinspire.
These are just a few ways you can welcome your staff back. Also, while they may have been working all year long, don’t forget to include your secretarial staff, the custodial staff, IT staff, and everyone else that makes up the school community.