I’m the new boss and this is my first meeting with the staff. To add a little more tension, the assistant principal and the administrative assistant are also new.
I’ve planned the meeting carefully and have my notes clutched in my hand. I’ve decided to use a tip I was given by a senior staff member. It’s called “Checking In.”
I ask each staff member to say their name, tell us something about themselves or their summer vacation and then say, “I’m checked in.” I assure them that they have the option of passing after they’ve introduced themselves. Of course most of them know each other, but I and other new staff haven’t met them all, and I need the time to attach names to faces.
As the checking-in works its way around the room, I note that the custodians all pass as do some of the support staff and a few of the teachers. I’m last to check-in and we start the meeting proper. Later several people—mostly support staff—tell me they have never felt as much a part of things as they did with the checking-in. I send a silent thank you to the person who suggested this strategy.
We check-in at every staff meeting. Some tell funny stories about each other or students and some take the time to thank a colleague. One always says, “Pass.”
After four years, I move to another school. Some months later I meet a teacher from my former school. We chat and catch up on gossip.
“I really miss the checking-in,” she says.
“But,” I sputter, “You always passed. Always.”
She smiles sheepishly. “I know,” she says. “But I miss it.”
*** Next week – more of West Africa Tour