Make a point to talk to staff members individually.
We all have natural tendencies to gravitate toward the same people, the same sides of the building, the same time of day to visit classrooms. If we don’t intentionally schedule time to seek out each staff member, we could potentially go an entire year without talking one-on-one with that teacher in the far corner of the building – not because we don’t want to, but because our natural patterns and schedules don’t have us walk past her room when she doesn’t have students. This is why we MUST be intentional about taking time to talk to each staff member individually. This doesn’t have to be a formal meet up. But make sure YOU guarantee it happens by putting deadlines or reminders on your calendar. I typically don’t even schedule these meet ups with the staff member ahead of time. I simply keep myself accountable to check in with individuals, ask about their families, how things are going, and follow up on previous conversations.
Walk the building in the morning to say hello to everyone. Check in on what’s going on in the building and what you can do to do help before the day even gets started. Notice changes in room arrangements or new student displays and express gratitude. Model starting the day by greeting with a smile and setting the tone for the day.
Ask questions and really listen.
Tell me about a lesson that went really well lately.
What’s something you’re working on or learning about?
What is weighing on your mind lately?
What’s your biggest work concern?
What has been going really well for you?
Use Voxer to send them YOUR VOICE.
I love writing notes of encouragement to staff, but have found that using my voice can, at times, be even more powerful by sharing that encouragement and praise with a recording of my voice using Voxer. If you aren’t using Voxer, it is a walkie-talkie app that you use to send voice recordings. If your staff members have the app, you can send your voice message of encouragement directly to them through the app, but even if they don’t have the app, you can record your voice and then email the recording to them. I have seen these messages have a HUGE impact on staff members – at times, bringing them to tears as they hear the honesty and sincerity in my voice that sometimes does not come across in writing. Read more about using Voxer to send positive messages here.
Find out about their goals and dreams.
Go further than just a work connection. Inquire about your team members goals and dreams – not only for their educational career, but for their lives outside of school as well. How can you add value and help them reach their goals?
You have to be sincere and show you really care in order to truly make a connection. People might push you away. Don’t give up. Keep showing up and pouring yourself into others – working for that connection with each staff member.