At a recent meeting, one of our teachers was talking about the benefits of doing a systematic check-in with students after recess. The process is simple–students have a little slip of paper they use to indicate whether recess was great with no problems, they had a problem but they solved it, or if they had a problem that they need help solving. The little check-in helps the teacher support her students, reinforces the idea that they are capable of solving problems, and preserves precious learning time.
As we were discussing the value of routine check-ins with students, the idea of routine check-ins with staff members came up. Genius! I jumped on the idea and created a weekly staff check-in to start using that next week. In talking with teachers about the concept, they suggested that we keep it as simple and easy as possible. They also very sweetly warned that if I was going to ask the question, I needed to be ready for the answers. Here is a picture of the question I sent out that first Monday morning.
To be honest, I opened the first results with one eye open. As expected, the responses were a mixed bag, with some staff members feeling great, some with simple questions, and others feeling completely overwhelmed and wanting help. I knew that it was important for me to do something with the information, so I made sure that the form would collect email addresses so I could answer questions and provide the support requested immediately. I was also so thankful that our staff felt comfortable enough to give genuine responses.
Now that we are a few weeks in, I cannot imagine ever discontinuing this practice. Not only is it a quick and easy way for teachers to communicate with me about the week ahead, but it also it nurtures our relationship and models what we are asking teachers to do with their students. We may edit the question or answers as we move along, but this systematic communication tool has already proved to be priceless.
The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.
-George Bernard Shaw