Monday, September 30, 2013

Creating Community

A few posts ago, I shared I was out of school because I was sick. Being that we are counselors, relational people, who love exchanging  information, I might as well share with my "online counseling family" that I have been out sick with my first attack of Multiple Sclerosis.  I missed 6 school days but heading back to work is a beautiful thing!  I have had some serious time to reflect on the loving, empathetic staff I work with. 

It got me thinking: How is community created? It will never be measured by test scores or a school improvement plan. It will never be given a grade and it will certainly not be measured by the state standard.  The role of community is created in between the lesson plans, the lunch breaks, and the hallway chats. It is created in times of crisis, great sadness, and in times of pure joy.
When I think of how my school community has been formed and how it is possible that after just one year, I can feel the pure love from these 50 individuals, I wanted to write a "how to love your staff" handbook and give it to every school in the district.There is no clear cut answer as to how to create community but I think there are a few things that can make a difference:

1. Go out on a limb- Go talk to someone, or join a committee that you do not know about.
2. Cover for your friends, and cover for people who aren't your friends. There will be a day when a colleague can't make their duty, or has a meeting. Help them! That 30 minute coverage you are doing for someone else will be remembered far longer than 30 minutes. It all makes a difference.
3. Complement others. It is easy to judge and say how you would have dealt with this student or that student, but everyone is trying, and a good complement goes a long way.
4. Empathize- Know that everyone has a different story to tell and a history that may or may not be written on their sleeve. You never know what goes on behind closed doors. My entire staff just found out on Wednesday I had MS. The number of texts/emails/conversations that went " BUT I had NO idea?!" are too many to count at this point.
5. Leadership is key- having a strong leader (principal) makes it easier. If he/she is promoting the love, others will follow.
6. Make cookies- I don't know what it is about a little brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla, but it seems to work. Bring them to your work room, put them in the teacher's mailboxes. People who have treats are usually happier- it's just that simple.

Well, I could be wrong, but I think community is the single most important part of work. I will be on Twitter on Thursday October 10th on #ESCChat (Elementary School Counselor Chat) on chat about how to create a healthy community in your school. I would love you to join and share your ideas too!  Tweet me-@SCfromAZ!

Feelin' the love,

Your Floridian Chick!