Each week, Instant Meeting presents an idea or activity that you might use to make staff meetings more interesting, teacher-centered, educational, or fun.
Add fun and recognition to your staff meetings with special awards. The awards can be teacher- (rather than principal-) generated. They can even be a little silly.
Awards will take on a special meaning if they are generated by you or the staff. One award, for example, might be based on your school mascot. If the mascot is a wolf, then you might purchase a ceramic wolf, spray paint it gold, and then, each month, award a teacher the Golden Wolf. Special awards are limited only by your (or your teachers') creativity. See additional ideas below.
Presenting awards to monthly recipients can take up to 5 minutes at the top of a meeting. It can provide a light and teacher-centered start to the meeting. It might also get teachers to show up for the meeting on time; they won’t want to miss this month’s presentations.
"Instant Meeting" Idea
Many principals have found that they can add fun to a meeting, and help build school spirit and community, by presenting special awards and recognitions.
For example, at Doctors Inlet Elementary School in Middleburg, Florida, staff members present the Golden Apple Award each month. Principal Larry Davis began this award several years ago. The award recognizes a fun accomplishment or character trait of a staff member. "The award might be given one month to 'the teacher most likely to be at school after hours' or 'the teacher who will probably win the Nobel Peace Prize.' Another month it might go to 'the teacher who is like a mother hen to others,' 'the teacher with the most school spirit,' or 'the teacher who is the hostess with the mostest.'"
Davis handed out the first award, but from thereon it became the responsibility of the award recipient to present the Golden Apple to another staff member the following month.
At The Wellington School in Columbus, Ohio, Ken Rogers is the head of the middle school. "Every staff meeting begins with a listing of some of the good things that have happened in school recently," explained Rogers. "The 'Kudos' section of our meetings even appears right at the top of the meeting agenda. Kudos might be handed out for the band's latest concert, an art show, a successful service-learning project, or someone who has just finished an advanced degree."
Rogers keeps an envelope in the main office with Kudos note cards next to it. "Teachers nominate each other based on work they have done to make our school a better place. Notes say things such as Ms. D. has such a great sense of humor with kids or Mr. J. did an excellent job introducing the new math program on Parents' Night. Most of the cards are anonymous. I read aloud all of them. Then I draw a random card. The person noted on that card is the recipient of a plastic school bus, which gets displayed in his or her classroom until the next meeting."
The school bus award is affectionately known around Wellington as the "Rosa Award" (for Rosa Parks) because it celebrates "on the bus" behaviors and spirit, Rogers explained.
"We have several other traveling prizes," added Rogers, "like a kitchen fire extinguisher that goes to someone who has spent time 'putting out fires' and a full-size shovel that we painted gold. The Golden Shovel award goes to the faculty member who has been well you can figure that one out. Every time someone gets the shovel, they get to sign it."
"Staff meetings are a time for 'pats on the back,'" said Uwe C. Gordon, principal at Hennessey (Oklahoma) High School. "I try to find the less significant things to reward. The big things are easy and seen by most, but to reward my custodian for surviving five days of rain goes a long way with everyone and shows due appreciation."
Sources: "Great Staff Meetings: Pointers from the Principals Who Lead Them" (EducationWorld.com -- August 20, 2002) and "Principals Share 'Best Meetings of the Year'" (EducationWorld.com - August 10, 2004)
You might appoint a committee of teachers to come up with a few awards that will add elements of fun and recognition to staff meetings. Take the pressure of yourself by making the awards self-perpetuating; in other words, the teachers who receive the award one month are responsible for passing it on the next month or teachers nominate award recipients and winners are selected at random from the best suggestions.