When the the current school year began, some school leaders assessed the bandwidths of their faculty and determined that this would be a year of “no extras.” As faculty were asked to adopt new technologies and platforms to enhance and support their classroom management, some school-wide programs were put on pause. As school leaders look ahead to a “more normal” 21-22, they are now considering ways to ease faculty back into practice with some of these programs and processes, including their in-depth efforts around professional growth.
Professional development, reflection, and goal setting are more important now than ever before, and Folio is ready to support schools and faculty in developing thoughtful and purposeful plans toward generating positive teacher growth. If your school has taken a step back with your Folio work this year, but you are excited to get right back in the swing of things next year, here are a few ways you can gently re-engage your faculty with the myFolio platform and your professional growth process.
Reflect. Reflect. Reflect!
Teachers and Schools have experienced over a year of intense trauma and crisis management. There have been schedule changes, physical plant adjustments, and pedagogical shifts happening at a pace never before experienced in modern educational systems. Schools have learned that they are actually very nimble and many have adjusted their expectations around the preferred pace of change. That said, as school leaders look ahead to 2021-2022 and beyond, it is critical to take time to pause, reflect, and vision what that future will hold. What aspects of the last 14 months feel worthy of holding on to? How did our pedagogy change for the better? How did our physical distance help us to redefine the purpose of schools? There needs to be time for individual reflection and for group discussion and conversation with an attention to reflection. Looking for resources to get started? Consider our myFolio “Lesson Plan” tactical guide to reflect and capture the learning from this year.
Full Faculty Discussion of Themes for ‘21-’22
As your faculty processes and reflects on the current year, a next step will be identifying strategic goals for 2021-2022, and the professional growth themes that align to those goals. Make this an inclusive process! Instead of setting the myFolio Schoolwide Themes with only a small school leadership team, perhaps use the full faculty discussion and processing after the reflection to crowd-source ideas and priorities for next year. There is a lot of research to support the idea that people are more likely to engage with an idea that they helped to generate (like this and this).
Practicing gratitude can go far in terms of bolstering the mental health states of both the giver and the receiver of the thank-you. Being intentional in noticing the positives and providing recognition for actions that often go unseen can go far in furthering a positive work culture. There is so much research to support the human benefits of a practice of gratitude as linked to theories of positive psychology (one great short descriptor of this link is Shawn Achor’s short TEDx talk). School leaders can engage their faculty with gratitude as a random act of kindness through a challenge connected to the myFolio Spotlight feature. Set a challenge (depending on the size of your community) to share Spotlights by the dozens. Be sure to find time after the challenge ends to celebrate the ways your community celebrates each other. Here is a great framework for structuring your myFolio Spotlight-a-Palooza.
Community Feeds to Share Joys!
While the Spolight-a-Palooza is a wonderful way to shine a light on individual accomplishments and successes, the Spotlights themselves are only shared with the individual and their supervisor. Fortunately, the myFolio Community Feed is a way to share public joys and celebrations. Model this spotlight by using a faculty meeting time to introduce the Community Feed’s link to collective assembly. Perhaps you can even create a challenge — each time an individual shares a community joy on the Community Feed, they are entered into a raffle. At the end of the school year, one name will be drawn to win a gift card to a local coffee shop or bookstore.
Community Feeds to Share Laughs!
Perhaps your faculty are ready to find moments to laugh this spring. You can set a challenge on the Community Feed to function as a photo-scavenger hunt and charge your faculty with capturing some humor to share with the community. You can post a challenge for the week on a Monday morning and have all entries due by the end of the week. Some possible challenges might include:
- Best selfie that shows appropriate social distancing and at least 5 other faculty members
- Most creative selfie that includes the school’s installed plexiglass barriers
- Matching mask day! (points for the greatest number of faculty in matching masks in the photo)
- Zoom screenshot where each person’s square contributes one word to write a sentence (bonus points for the sentence being the school’s mission!)
- Selfie-advertisement for the school’s preferred brand hand sanitizer that you find on campus
- Make your own…!
Faculty can add their photos as “Files” to new posts on the myFolio Community Feed. You can award prizes (gift cards) each week. Remember, faculty are more likely to participate in a goofy challenge like this if the school leaders do it too.
Form a Professional Learning Community focused on teacher growth
While many teachers are looking toward summer as a time to rest and rejuvenate from the year, there are members of your faculty who are energized by the shifts they have experienced who are ready to re-engage and dig into their professional development and learning goals. Put out the call to your faculty that you would like to form a faculty-led committee to discuss your school’s commitment to professional development and to help faculty craft professional development plans and goals. This committee can also be tasked with examining the ways your community engages with Folio and developing new strategies to deepen this engagement. Perhaps your committee would be interested in carving out some time to talk to the Folio team? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
What other plans and ideas do you have for helping faculty and staff re-engage in the professional growth process? Share them with us so we can share them with the Collaborative at large!