The other day in the mastermind we were discussing onboarding new faculty. I took some notes from this discussion and will share them here as a resource.
If you have a great idea or resource regarding onboarding new faculty, I encourage you to post in the comments below!
So let’s get on to the ideas …
THE IMPORTANCE OF A GROUP SPACE
Create a space that is intentionally designed for new staff members. This can be done on Slack, Facebook, Voxer, etc. Use the space to share wins, ask questions, and offer support.
The written word is great. To add nuance and emotion consider video. Create videos whose sole purpose is to uplift and encourage new teachers. You’ll be happy you used your time to do this.
ACKNOWLEDGE THE VETERANS
Your school didn’t accomplish anything amazing alone. Getting new staff is exciting. There is so much potential of what can be accomplished, but sometimes this can feel threatening to veteran faculty. So honor those who have served on your campus for years and highlight their contributions. You can even say, “Teacher X is the master at Topic Y. Go to her for all your Topic Y needs.”
PERSONALIZED & CONSISTENT MEETINGS
When I was an AP in charge of onboarding I regularly met after school with new staff members. I didn’t have an agenda. My agenda was serving them. Answering any questions they had about operations, school culture, how to be successful, and so on.
HEAD START PROGRAM
Consider bringing in your staff two days before everyone else. Think of it as a new staff member boot camp. The point is to build relationships and awareness of what it means to be faculty at your school.
SIT DOWN ACTIVITY
Have your entire faculty stand up. Ask questions that will eliminate people and show something interesting about their life. Have everyone stand up again for each question.
Some example questions:
- Remain standing if you traveled this summer
- Remain standing if you got married this summer
- Remain standing if you just moved to this state
- Remain standing if teaching is a second career
- Remain standing if you did not drink coffee this morning
Create a scavenger hunt for your school. Have new faculty learn about your school by sending them out into your school. Have them take pictures to show they found what you asked them to discover. Have awards for the top team or teams.
Assign mentor teachers. But don’t stop there. Train these mentors on what it means to be a great mentor and create a system where feedback flows to you and to new faculty freely. Make sure mentors and mentees have the space in their schedules to meet. Protect this development and time as a school leader.
Get your new faculty instantly plugged in and excited about working at your school. Tee shirts, mugs, hoodies, fleece, etc.
The best onboarding experience I ever had included a student panel. The students on the panel weren’t just “A” students. It also included students who struggled in school academically or discipline wise. Their job was to give an authentic look at what the student experience was like at the school.
FLEX YOUR EMPATHY MUSCLE
At one point you were new to your school. What did it feel like? Share those stories — especially the failures and embarrassing moments to connect with new staff.
Build a team that can own the onboarding process. CAst the vision of what successful onboarding looks like. These are the boundaries. Then get out of your people’s way so they can be great.
BE A COLLECTOR OF QUESTIONS
Create a file to store all the questions new staff asks each year. Then create a FAQ and YesAQ document for new staff the following year. If you need an example of a YesAQ, scroll down to the bottom of our mastermind page to see an example: https://betterleadersbetterschools.com/mastermind
And at the end of the year discuss with new staff — what did we miss, what do you wish we knew, what would you tell next year’s staff?
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