Monday, July 27, 2015

Staff Engagement...Again

Apparently, principals everywhere spend July thinking about how to make maximum impact on the first staff day in August. I keep stumbling upon blog posts and articles about how to have the best kickoff meeting. A post I read today makes perfect sense, yet challenged me. This middle school principal asked her teachers not to share any rules on the first day of school, and instead, to focus on preparing and teaching a lesson so engaging that students would lose track of time, and leave at the end of the day excited to return. Another blog elaborates a bit more on how classroom and school culture can be shifted by focusing first on engagement.
We all understand intuitively that the first day of school or teacher workdays is when you are most likely to have the attention and enthusiasm of students or staff, yet we often extinguish it as quickly as possible by boring them with a long list of limitations and constraints.  We want teachers and students to innovate and "think outside the box," but our first order of business is to describe every technical specification of the box and all the best strategies for remaining inside. I'm still refining what my most engaging lesson of the year will look like, but I'm hopeful that I can break out of the box and inspire my staff to do the same.


  1. I can't imagine not teaching rules on the first day. But this idea really does make sense! Teaching rules all day certainly doesn't make a student eager to return the next day.

    1. It is a little unsettling to think about. We often talk about how student engagement can reduce discipline issues, but we tend to lead with rules, rather than leading with engagement. I'm wondering what results we might see if we "hook" students on Day One with amazing instruction, rather than warming up to it later, when we've already lost our audience's attention.