1. How is the challenge of making stakeholders feel welcome to your school (or place of work) connected to your school mission?
The current problem is that my school site has no mission statement. This lack of a shared goal among the major stakeholders is the first challenge. The next challenge I see is the regular pace of the day. For example, the three minutes between classes, the need to go to the boy's room, and to get back to class can create a focused rush across the campus. An almost tunnel vision is created by the need to rush from point A to point B. The task, to make stakeholders feel welcomed, would be to slow down, not to speed, and give recognition to the faces that cross one’s path.
2. What did you do to assess which stakeholder group (or subgroup) could be more efficiently welcomed? And what did you find?
To assess the stakeholder group that I could most effectively welcome and needed to keep my sphere of influence in mind. I did not do any formal assessment of the subgroup or stakeholders. Instead, I assessed myself. I took the time to honestly look at what I could do better in the classroom. The area that I have the most influence is in my classroom. I also need to recognize that I might be bringing in my biases into the classroom. Therefore I am attempting to set aside my struggles with low academic achieving students and instead focus on these students becoming active members of the class. I have added classroom jobs and pay students in candy for each day the job is done successfully and without me having to remind the student.
3. Future Sphere of Influence: What would you do to improve welcoming this group if you were the school leader?
The need to identify academically at-risk students is crucial. Creating a team of campus stakeholders, administrators, counselors, and teachers would be the first step. Having a collaborative group to design and implement a plan is the best way to create a process with the highest buy-in from all groups.
4. Current Sphere of Influence: What can you do in your present position to enhance welcoming these stakeholders?
Not every student is going to get the “A” in class. However, maybe every student can get recognition for something. Therefore I am starting to give out weekly recognition awards and a small gift. It isn’t much, just a printed award and a sticker or a piece of candy, but it is something. This is a chance for a student to stand in front of their class and receive applause. I have also created the award through Google Forms so that I can keep track of who has previously received an award, to avoid repeats.
Commit to 5 things you are willing to do this semester that will make your school a more welcoming place:
1. All MY STUDENTS: I can only control my sphere of influence, and that is mostly what occurs in my classroom. Therefore I am going to work on making ALL my students feel welcomed. Of course, all teachers should do this, but they are not always successful. For me, the challenge is getting the disconnected students to become part of the classroom. When students are unwilling to participate academically, my challenge will be to make this student part of the classroom culture.
PLAN ONE: Recognition. Weekly classroom recognition for behavior. This will be an award given to students for non-academic behaviors.
PLAN TWO: Jobs. I will target a few of the students who do not participate and ask them to take responsibility for classroom jobs. To be specific, I have Student A who is unwilling to do homework or classwork, he simply does not care and is an RSP student. His job will be to keep track of the classroom computer cart. He will be paid weekly in candy.
2. ALL MY PARENTS: The population of my school is nearly 80% free or reduced lunch. An informal survey shows that over half of my students do not speak English at home. My challenge is to create a welcome classroom for my parents to visit and to contact me.
PLAN ONE: Communication. A simple weekly e-mail to all parents who are registered through our school’s LMS. The e-mail will be in both English and Spanish, through Google Translate, and will be a simple update about classwork, homework, and class projects.
PLAN TWO: Newspaper. This will be a complete student-run plan. Using Harry Potter’s Daily Prophet Newspaper as a model, the student newspaper team will try to make a monthly newsletter for parents.
3. ALL MY TEAM MEMBERS: Listening. Through the course of this school year, there will be three teachers out for maternity leave, all of the 6th-grade levels. As I am the 6th-grade team coordinator, it will be my task to make sure the long-term subs have the support they need.
PLAN ONE: Weekly classroom visits and check in to see how the subs are doing. The focus will be on technology use, as the LMS and Smartboard. This will be very informal, and my goal is to provide to have the substitute teacher’s voice be heard.
4. ALL MY TEACHERS: Adoption. There are four new teachers on my campus this year. As the Technology Specialist, it is my job to help teachers understand how to use software and hardware.
PLAN ONE: I have a new teacher in the room next to me. I will offer a weekly ‘check-in’ with this teacher. I know that he is also a first-year teacher. No doubt his plate is full, but a simple one time a week check-in can support this teacher.
5. ALL MY ADMINISTRATORS: Volunteerism. We have a new Assistant Principal this year. The entire staff is excited to have this AP. First, last year we had four long-term substitute APs and it was not a supportive environment with a constant change in AP culture. Secondly, the new AP was promoted from our ranks, a much liked SDC teacher.
PLAN ONE: Take on one extra yard duty assignment a week. This isn’t much, like 15 minutes out of the work week. But, this is a simple action to support the administration. Yard duty is required but not a focus. The demands of the AP are great, and he can not always be on hand to supervise yard duty. A small action on my part could send a larger message.