What does your opening day look like?

Creating the agenda
I’ve been doing some pondering about what I’ll do with staff on the first day back. I’ve ran across some interesting post that discuss the whole staff meeting question and what the meeting should contain.Zoe Branigan-Pipe has some good comments about our need to remember that, if we expect teachers to engage students then, as administrators, we’d better be doing the same with the teachers in our buildings.

George Couros has some ideas about developing a collaborative environment and shared leadership that are important to remember.

Another fellow Sask administrator, Mr. Bircher, discusses his plans for the year and how he will be looking at the use of technology within the school. I like his plans!

What will you be doing? For me, I’ve not quite decided as I am in a new school and I have the opportunity of bringing two school staffs together into a new school building. I’ll be doing some planning and writing as I work through the how, why, when and where of what I’m going to do. I do know that I will be hosting a bbq after our first day back at school for the staff and their spouses. Better make sure I have enough propane!


  1. Reply

    Hey thanks for the mention! Here is something that I know your staff will love on those first few days of school. Time.

    I meet with staff, discuss a few things that need to be discussed, and then I let them do whatever they need to get ready. A lot of administrators that this is the time to set the tone for the year, and I totally agree. I try to set the tone by respecting that many of them have their minds on what they are wanting to get ready in the classroom and that no matter what great things you have planned, they will have their mind elsewhere.

    This is a great time to connect with staff, introduce new people, and do the stuff you have to get out of the way before school starts. Do those things quickly, and then give them that time to prepare. This was thing that I always appreciated from my administrators when I was teaching, so I ensure that I pay it forward to my staff.

    You just inspired me to blog 🙂 Good luck in your new school! It was my first year in a new building last year and I loved it.

    • Reply

      George, this is my 7th start in a new school and the second time I’ve had to bring two school staffs together so it’s not unfamiliar territory. As I’ve said, my 10 years of teaching middle years and high school and being a teaching administrator makes me realize that time is as precious as water in the desert. I’ve never been big on long staff meetings that are sit-and-deliver type of events. Because I have been using a school wiki for the past 5 years with my staff, I deliver the deliverable information via a page there. I also have a school-staff calendar that acts as a events place where staff record their events for the year so that everyone knows what is happening at the school. All my memos are posted on the wiki – I don’t send them in emails as it’s too easy to “delete” them! I’ve already begun the process, setting up the wiki and designing the layout – each school has its own unique needs. I then roll it out day one, have teachers register right off the start. This also sets the tone for the collaboration and accountability plus demonstrates to the staff that we need to be using the tools to be more productive. I agree that staff need the time to bet things in order and plan for their first day with students. Because I too will have that first class, I know that any time I can get to put the finishing touches on my plans is important! Thanks for the feedback and good luck with your first day!

  2. NoelineL


    I’m commenting from the other side of the room and agree with George Couros. Teachers want to use time to prep. Combine the welcome back first meeting (with breakfast instead of a l8er BBQ when folks might prefer to continue prepping for their return to the classroom) with general must-does. At the same time, to support differentiation for teachers, ask them what they’d like to see happen at future meetings – on a feedback form.

    • Reply

      Thanks for the feedback. Having been a teacher for 10 years and being a teaching principal, I understand that time for prepping and getting ready is very important. My experiences in a number of different schools is that the first day is all about having time to be together – prepping, talking, sharing – it’s all about the relationships. The breakfast idea is good but from my experience over the past 10 years, planning time in the early evening sets the tone for people for the year. Yes people may want to prep but it’s important to take time off to eat and build relationships. I’ve done this with my staffs for the past number of years and those who want to go back to prep can do so because we do it early enough in the day that there is time to get back and those who want to spend time together can do so. Maybe it’s because I’ve taught in smaller communities but there is something about gathering together after a day together and sharing that builds connections and really sets the tone for the rest of the year. It’s like when I was growing up on the farm and we’d stop for supper during seeding or harvest – all of us together laughing and talking – there’s something about this that brings people together – away from the workplace – that helps to build the relationships that are so crucial for the strengthening of the school community.

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  5. Reply

    This is such a big deal I’m happy to see that someone is blogging about it. I’ve spent the last several weeks preparing inservice plans for the staff. I too am in a new school and have to leave some time in the plans for building those relationships that are so important. I’ve been lucky to have a lot of staff stop in during the summer and share information about initiatives and systems so I feel like I’ve got a good jump on things that will be relevant to the staff. There’s nothing worse than an inservice that doesn’t have meaningful content for folks. I’m also going to be focusing on communication as a year long theme. Not just internal school communication, but how do we communicate with the community and families. I found a great post somewhere that spoke about GenX parents and their level of involvement and modes of communication. There’s a shift happening and as educators we need to be prepared to keep up with it!

  6. Reply

    Some great ideas Kelly. Thx. for the mention as well.

    I too am glad to hear their are other admin.’s like me who hate long meetings. As a teacher I was increasingly frustrated spending all most of the one or two days before school in meetings, with NO prep. time. Can’t happen.

    The trick is setting up your school and division initiatives in a workable fashion. For us, staff meeting are not the time to do this. We need to find other ways, without meeting to death. A short monthly meeting once a month (less than 30 min.) works well.

    I like the supper idea…good for small communities.

    I also like your wiki idea. So far staff have been great with emails. Do you have the link to your wiki?

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