Opening Staff Meeting and PD

wendyz@michiganprincipals.org's picture

It's getting close…the staff will be returning and you need to have a rockin’ plan for your welcome back, opening staff meeting and some professional development time. There is no doubt that you are saddled with minutia that you have to cover – how can you post this information and/or deliver it in a flipped format to allow more time for important things like teaching and learning?

Icebreakers
It is important to include activities into your opening days that allow staff to interact and to get to know each other. I strongly encouraged my staff to begin class every day during the first week with an icebreaker activity – so model what you’d like to see in the classroom and give the staff ideas. Refer to our monthly Principal’s checklists for icebreaker ideas (we give you one to do at your staff meeting each month). Another idea is to order enough of these ice breaker beach balls to put the staff in groups of 5-6 for this activity.

New Staff
Take pictures of your new staff members and interns prior to the opening meeting. Have a slide for each one prepared with a little info about them to be able to introduce them to their new colleagues. Hang the pictures in the staff lounge and in your mail room with the name and room number of the new teacher. (Added bonus –if you can give your new teachers a copy of last year’s yearbook it is a great resource. This will allow them to learn the names of their colleagues.)

Activity
Send your teachers this article to read in their staff welcome letter. Tell them that it will be the part of your opening day PD.

Set up:

  1. Put each question on a piece of chart paper and post them around the room with space between.
  2. As staff arrive, give each staff member 3 colored dot stickers and ask them to put a dot on a questions they would like to focus on during the year (this allows them to pick their top 3 of the 10). It also allows you to see what the top questions are for follow up PD.
  3. Divide the staff into groups and have them begin at one of the chart questions. Staff will brainstorm answers to each question, allow 5 min at each chart…then rotate to the next (Helpful to put a timer up on your projector).
  4. Collect the charts, compile and share.

Article Shares and Staff Book Studies
It is always good to start off the year focused on school improvement goals and how individual teachers will chart a course for success for their students. You can never go wrong by focusing on best practice instructional strategies. Some of the most impactful staff meetings and PD sessions are those facilitated by the master teachers the staff.

If you do a book study you can cover a chapter at each staff meeting and/or during PD time. Coordinate with departments and staff to allow them to take the role of facilitator. Coach up the staff before they present to ensure that they are including: a learning target, a variety of activities and instructional strategies and that they end with a formative assessment.

Book suggestions:

  • Classroom Instruction that Works by Ceri B. Dean, Elizabeth Ross Hubbell, Howard Pitler and Bj Stone
  • Teacher Like a Champion by Doug Lemov
  • How to Create a Culture of Achievement in Your School by Fisher, Frey and Pumpian
  • The Core Six: Essential Strategies for Achieving Excellence w/the Common Core by Harvey F. Silver, Matthew J. Perini, R. Thomas Dewing
  • Essential Questions: Opening Doors to Student Understanding by Jay McTighe, Grant Wiggins
  • Focus by Mike Schmoker
  • Learning Targets, Helping Student Aim for Understanding in Today’s Lesson by Moss and Brookhart

Article suggestions:

  • Go to the MASSP Twitter feed @massp! There's a wide array of articles that have been posted that are perfect to use at staff meetings.

Making Connections
With teacher evaluation being a prominent topic, it is important to find ways to help staff recognize elements of effective instruction and to build every teacher’s tool box of best practice strategies. In addition to the book studies and article reads you can always spend time watching video clips and having teachers reflect on the elements of effective instruction contained in the lesson as well as making a few suggestions on what could have been done to improve the lesson.

Video clip resources:

  • The Fisher and Frey channel on YouTube has a wide variety of clips.
  • The Teaching Channel website has many good clips.
  • Doug Lemov’s book Teacher Like a Champion comes with a DVD of 25 video clips.

Room Prep
Many Districts still allow time for room prep when the staff returns. If this is the case in your school, make sure that teacher supplies are in ample supply and are in a place they can be conveniently picked up. Make sure you are well stocked on role paper for colorful bulletin boards, scissors, markers, etc. If you want rooms that are visually interesting you need to provide supplies. I was able to get my PTA to purchase “extras” such as bulletin board boarders, inspirational posters, white boards/markers, etc. and these were made available as well.

Food
Do not discount the importance of having food/drinks available. In many cases there is no budget for this – seek donations from your parent, booster and community groups to have bagels/coffee or snacks/soda in the afternoon. I always purchased supplies myself to put on an “ice cream” social for the staff in the middle of the room prep time – I would just set up the supplies in the lounge and make an announcement that anyone interested in ice cream should come down to the lounge. It was a fun break and it was greatly appreciated.

Hopefully this will get your ideas flowing and you’ll develop some great plans that will inspire your staff and get your year off to a good start! Welcome back!