How do you communicate with your teachers and colleagues? It probably depends on the size of your school and the nature of what you are communicating. When it comes to informing or reminding staff of day-to-day operations, most leaders rely on a weekly staff update.
Most staff updates are pretty straightforward: event reminders, new staff announcements, Montessori quotes. You know the drill. Today we’re going to explore ways that you can make your staff updates truly engaging and useful to your team.
Link Them to Their Peers
One of the best parts of working in a school is the incredible bonds we form with our colleagues. Those bonds are a reason to drag out of bed in mid-February when the slog through the darkness, both literal and figurative, is real. (At least it always was for me.) The teams you build keep each other afloat.
Sometimes, though, people need professional connections outside of work. Use your staff update to show them how many ways they can link with their peers. Encourage them to grow professionally without depending on you as a conduit.
Share a link in every update. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
- Facebook groups like Montessori for Social Justice and Montessori Research Interest are excellent for engaging conversation. There are dozens of high-quality Montessori educator groups.
- Local or state Montessori organizations. Many of these groups have diverse services such as state conferences, workshops, leadership meetups, advocacy efforts, and school tours. Find your organization by searching on the Montessori Public Policy Initiative website: https://www.montessoriadvocacy.org/state-groups-
- Volunteer opportunities with local education nonprofits or government panels. Sign up for notifications from the education advocacy organizations in your state. They will let you know when there is a call for educators to sit on committees or panels to inform major decisions. Getting Montessori educators connected to policy is good for SO many reasons! Your school will also be first in the know when policy shifts are on the horizon.
Give Them Fun Ideas
Okay, it isn’t as though Montessori teachers are ever really at a loss for fun ideas. But that doesn’t mean you can’t give them more! Celebrate the fun of being a teacher and honor the purpose of the age groups in your school.
Go to Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube to start. Search on the topics of science, art, movement, inclusive literature, and outdoor learning for your age groups. Find all the magic the internet has to share. Curate for the best of it and share one link each week for the rest of the school year.
Educate Them on Inclusive Practices
We have a moral imperative as leaders to actively build anti-bias, anti-racist culture in our schools. The teachers are the key to this culture. Use your weekly platform to connect them with new ideas and thought leaders.
Invite them to start a conversation in the staff lounge about what you shared. Give them support in engaging in successful dialogue without tone policing. In fact, maybe start with an education in tone policing before moving forward.
Here are a few links to get you started:
- Our Big Reflections on Being Anti-Racist Montessorians – Montessori for Social Justice
- Culturally Relevant Materials – KnowThySelf Inc.
- Forward Through Ferguson – Faybra Hemphill
- For White Allies In Search of a Solution to American Racism – Dr. Neal A. Lester
Want to build a genuinely inclusive culture? Make your teachers reflect on their practices and consider new ideas every week. Start up conversations about the article you share each week in the hallways.
Want to share your ideas for how Montessori schools can be more inclusive places?
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This one is easy. Ask them what would make the staff update most useful. What do they appreciate? What do the scroll past without reading? When do they want it? How do they want it delivered? Is email the best way?
When it comes to giving your team what they need, there is no better strategy than asking them!
Staff updates can be dry list of upcoming important dates topped with a Montessori quote. If that level of simplicity works for your school, keep it up! But I urge you to consider that there is an opportunity to take a deeper dive with your team and prove yourself truly useful.
Connect them to their peers, inspire them, educate them. Your teachers deserve the best of you and the staff update is a great place to show up with vision.
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