Practices for Leaders

An important part of building staff skills around SEL is modeling by school leaders. These strategies can provide ideas for administrators and leadership teams to build relationships and show staff they are cared for and appreciated. Suggestions below are courtesy of Chicago Public Schools.

Happy Staff Calendar: Build a calendar for each month to call out unusual or fun holidays and to plan relationship-and community-building activities for staff each day during a week or month. Activities can include themed dress days, raffling off an extra conference period, leaving notes of appreciation in mailboxes, organizing a potluck, or sharing a favorite quote or video clip via email. Check out the Model section for more ideas.

Check-Ins: Begin all conversations, visits, and meetings with a brief personal check-in. For example, “Share a rose and a thorn of this past week/month” (good/bad). Keep track of what is shared to check-in later; e.g., “Last time we talked you mentioned that your son was ill—how is he feeling?”

Meetings can begin with a quick whip-around question to share out loud or in small groups for large meetings. For example, “Each person describe your weekend in five words” or “In groups of three, share what percentage of your attention is on this meeting and where the other percentage is focused.”

Check-in Calendar: Place a staff/administrator name on each day/week of your calendar. On that day, check in with the assigned person to see how they are doing by visiting the classroom, calling, or emailing. Try to limit conversations to good news and personal check-ins; don’t use them to share work reminders.

Verbal Appreciation for Time: Thank administrators/staff for taking the time to meet with you (even if it was ‘mandatory’). Let them know that their time is appreciated.

Encourage Self-Care: Consistently remind administrators/staff of the importance of self-care. Share your self-care habits and encourage staff/administrators to share.

Gift Swaps and Database: Before gift-giving or grab-bag season, distribute a survey for staff/administrators to share three to five favorite types of items. Share the master list with everyone. Create themes or reasons to swap small gifts throughout the year.

Celebration Feedback “Sandwich”: Begin and end feedback conversations and meetings with sharing good news or positive comments to celebrate. Make a positive-critical positive-feedback sandwich.

Birthday Cards: Send paper or virtual birthday cards to administrators/staff.


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