Supporting School Culture as an Administrator
Whether in person or virtual, school looks very different this year. While some of the old methods of creating school culture (through pep rallies, spirit weeks and other activities) may not be feasible right now, that doesn’t mean you can’t stay connected and strong as a school community.
Below are some ways you can support school culture during COVID-19.
Host virtual meet-and-greets
Now is an especially challenging time for students who are entering school for the first time or are switching to a new school. Host virtual meet-and-greets with parents so they can get to know you, ask questions and feel more connected to their new school community.
Have weekly forums
Carve out a regular time each week to communicate with students and staff. If your school is meeting in person, this can be done through video streaming into the classrooms. For virtual meetings, you can use Facebook Live, Instagram Live or other channels. You might even consider creating a YouTube channel just for your school, where students, families and staff can watch spirit videos, announcements and other fun, school-related content to stay connected.
Prioritize social-emotional learning
During times of stress and uncertainty, supporting emotional wellness is more important than ever. Set clear expectations for how you’d like staff to weave social-emotional learning (SEL) into the day and how often they should be explicitly teaching SEL lessons. Consider stopping by—in person or virtually—to participate in an SEL lesson or activity and show your support.
Provide and encourage positive recognition
Show your school community that you value creativity and flexibility.
- If you hear about a teacher doing something that’s working well to build their class culture, share their success with the rest of the staff. Not only will the recognized teacher feel appreciated, their fellow teachers can incorporate the successful tactics into their own classrooms.
- At staff meetings, allow time for staff to call out colleagues who are going above and beyond. Taking time to build this into staff meetings demonstrates your commitment to creating a positive workplace culture.
Host grade-level virtual nights
Pick a night when families, students and teachers in each grade level come together online to showcase student work, have a talent show, etc. You can even have breakout rooms between classes so parents and students can get to know people in their grade that are in other classrooms.
Offer additional student support
Consider utilizing support staff and non-classroom staff to show extra support to students. Identify all the students in your school who might need extra support during this challenging time and divide their names up among support staff. Ask staff to check in with these students and their families once a week or every two weeks, so that these children have contact with a school member other than their classroom teacher. A document can be created to keep track of these check-ins and account for any needs families and students might have, such as food or technology assistance.
Have spirit days
Encourage students and staff to participate in spirit days such as dressing up by wearing silly hats or their school colors to class. This will help students feel connected, whether they are in the school building or learning virtually.
Celebrate birthdays and special events
Celebrating special events during the pandemic can be challenging for anyone. A simple gesture, such as taking the time to mail a handwritten card when staff are celebrating birthdays, babies, new homes or other life events, can go a long way.
Listen to your community
As you navigate this unprecedented time, it is critical to get regular feedback from your community. Create a survey that students, parents and teachers can regularly complete (anonymously or not) to provide an opportunity for them to express any needs, concerns or suggestions.