I know I am not alone in saying that things have been a bit crazy lately! As educators, we went from looking forward to a much-needed Spring Break to (for many of us) working through our Spring Break back in March or April. Here we are now, either nearing the last day of school (or done with the school year altogether). Many of us are probably planning our last staff meeting of the year (or Staff Gathering, as I like to call it) and may need some fun ideas to incorporate into the meeting.
This year we’ve had to get creative on how to make our meetings memorable, fun, and celebratory via video. To overcome this challenge, I did what I do best; I reached out to my PLN to seek ideas. Sure enough, they came through and shared some wonderful ideas. I took some of those ideas and made it work for what I needed. Below are some ideas that I incorporated into my last Staff Gathering of the year that might help inspire other ideas for you.
Have Fun with a Theme
Because summer break was only 4 working days away, I asked our team to come to our Staff Gathering wearing a fun summer hat, glasses or bring any other fun summer prop. It definitely added energy and fun to the meeting.
Maybe you can make it a fun Hawaian, 80s or 90s, or Carnival theme. Maybe you can just continue with the theme you’ve used during the school year (if you had one) or simply wear your school shirts and hats to show unity. The possibilities are endless! Here’s a picture of pic of us with our summer hats.
Even though there were at least 40 of us on the video gathering, I felt it was important to take some time at the beginning to do a quick “check-in.” I asked everyone to think of one word that would describe how they were feeling that day and to share with energy and enthusiasm. We didn’t need explanations of why they chose their word; it just gave them a space to share and to acknowledge their feelings. We went through everyone’s word fairly quickly. Here’s a Wordle picture of how our team was feeling that day. As you can see, there were lots of different emotions and states of being; every feeling was honored.
2 Stars & 1 Wish
My dear friend & fellow principal, Veronica Rodriguez, shared this great idea; 2 Stars and 1 Wish. Going with my summer theme, I connected it to starfish. Staff used the chat to share 2 things they cherished or were memorable this year and 1 thing they are looking forward to next school year. We had some quiet reflective time to do this while I played some light background music. We took a few minutes to read through all the comments that were added in the chat. The reflective part of this activity helped us realize how much there was to celebrate and to be proud of.
“Name that Tune” Game
My friends and colleagues, Jennifer Kloczko and Rachael Peck, who were inspired by our fellow #MomsAsPrincpals colleague, Liz Garden, shared this idea with me; “Name that Tune” game. We had fun seeing how many songs our staff could figure out. The top three winners received $5 Starbucks e-cards. This was fun! Click HERE for a copy of the Google Slide Show the amazing Jennifer Kloczko shared with me.
If you have never done a read aloud for your staff, you should try it! I love to do this throughout the year, but especially at our last Staff Gathering of the year. This year, I found this gem, Because I Had a Teacher. I read it aloud to my staff to remind them of how amazing they are and how large of an impact they make on students’ lives.
If you are anything like me and love to take pictures of special moments throughout the school year, your camera is probably full of pics! I used the VERY easy Quik app to create this 2019.2020 picture slideshow! It’s always so special to see pictures starting from the first day teachers return to work to the last days of the school year. This is definitely a tear-jerker for me especially as I put it together. Check out our staff 2019.2020 slideshow HERE to get an idea of what you can do with the app if you’ve never used it.
Toast to a Great Year
I asked everyone to bring a cup, glass, mug, etc. with their favorite non-alcoholic summer beverage to “toast” to a great year. We traditionally get apple cider for the last Staff Gathering of the school year, but since we weren’t physically together, this was the next best thing to do. We raised our glasses to toast to a wonderful 2019.2020 school year and ended with cheers, smiles and joy!
I hope these few ideas have inspired you to use some, all, or helped kickstart new ideas. These ideas may come too late to use this school year, but there’s always the start of next school year to inspire you! I’m sure you have many, many, many more ideas that you’ve incorporated into your End of Year Staff Meetings. Let’s share those great ideas! When we share, we are #BetterTogether!