Five Ideas to build healthy relationships with staff and learners

I am blessed to see many community-building practices at the schools that I visit. I wish school principals and teachers had this opportunity as well. You learn so much from having the experience yourself and from interacting with your peers in a real life setting. Such learning can never really be fully appreciated in a workshop setting.

Let me share a five practices that I simply love AND believe others can benefit from.

1. The staff breakfast

At a few schools the staff have a monthly breakfast where all staff members sit and enjoy communion. In most cases the staff members make the breakfast contributions and a rotating breakfast team coordinates the event.

At one school staff members report about an hour earlier and at another school the first interval is extended to accommodate the breakfast. At Square Hill Primary school,where there is an extended interval, the principal, Lavinia Davis, with her support /ground staff takes over the playground duty. A programme is run for the learners so that they are occupied.

2. Introducing visitors to the teachers in their own classrooms

Whenever there are new teachers appointed at the school, the principal of Floreat Primary, Noel Isaacs, would take me to meet them. Usually the teachers are not aware of receiving visitors and initially look apprehensive, especially if it is a district official. However, once the teacher knows that their principal just wants to show off his new mover and shaker, there is a reciprocal pride and sharing of what the learners are doing. In no time the learners and their teacher will give us a display of what a happy classroom is.

This practice can be applied internally as well. Teachers can be taken on tours like these as part of a staff development programme. In many cases colleagues have not seen their peers' classrooms and may be missing out on profound ideas right on their doorstep.

At one school, the staff has their weekly Friday meeting in one of the classes. This information is usually shared on the day so that teachers can't cosmetically spruce up their classrooms for the meeting! Having this tradition at the school, most colleagues have visited most of their peers' classrooms. On the one hand, there is visual sharing and on the other, the principal has used this practice to encourage teachers to create positive classroom spaces for all the learners.

3. Walkabouts at the school

At other schools, like Sullivan Primary school and Harmony Primary, for example, I would be taken on walkabouts to see the latest initiative, be it the renovation of the school building or an addition like the Shine Centre reading hub. These walkabouts become guided tours and invariably, you will meet learners and teachers too.

4. Using the intercom system to spread good news only in the morning

Often schools use the intercom system at their schools to make those passion-killer, 18th century type of announcements only. Announcements for the day sound like a court roll and the "don't do's" dominate invariably. There are schools, though, that use the intercom to set a positive,enabling tone for the day. Learners and teachers are welcomed warmly in the morning and motivational messages are shared. At one school thee intercom is also used as an amplifier to broadcast radio programmes. Important speeches by the president or a beautiful song would be played over the intercom for the whole school to enjoy.

5. Doing something special for deserving learners

At two of the high schools I serve the principals have a tea date with their high-performing learners or deserving learners. They would have tea in the principal's office or they would be taken to a restaurant. The learners enjoy this morale-boosting activity tremendously and look forward to this term date.


Happy learners learn better


Is here an idea that you can introduce at your school? What other fantastic ideas are you implementing in your spaces?



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