Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Memo

In a school of nearly 100 staff members, one would think that communicating the same message to the entire faculty would be difficult. I’m sure you have images of a crowded monthly faculty meeting where the principal stands before the staff to disseminate information. This is not the case at Chets.

The dissemination of information is important, especially in a school as large as ours, at approximately 1,200 students, but the principal uses the vehicle of digital communication via a weekly newsletter, The Memo. All staff members receive The Memo as an attachment to an email on Friday afternoon. And, this thematic newsletter, although a dissemination tool, offers so much more.

The Memo is a seven part document which includes the following key elements:
o Principal’s Message—a link to the principal’s blog where she leaves a message.
o Pixie Pointer—a staff initiated recognition/questioning corner.
o Weekly Events Schedule—day by day calendar of events.
o A Whole New Mind—weekly academic announcements.
o Keys to the Kingdom—housekeeping items.
o Birthday Wishes—building relationships through celebration.
o Tinkerbell’s Magical Moments—public recognition for teachers.

As you peruse this week’s Memo pay particular attention to Tinkerbell’s Magical Moments. This is a method of public recognition for staff that gives them a pat on the back for work well done. This section of the communication tool reaches far beyond the dissemination of information and slants the focus toward academic accomplishments. It opens the door to each classroom so the rest of the staff gets a bird’s eye view into the work of others. It celebrates success.

As a coach, I can assist the principal in gathering celebrations for this section. My job has a focus on curriculum and instruction, and includes the most time spent in teacher’s classrooms observing and as a classroom supporter. I assist the principal in being the positive eyes and ears of the school’s academic happenings, and debrief with her about the awe inspiring things I see on a daily basis. Other coaches in my school also share celebrations with the principal. Collectively between the coaches’ weekly observations and the principal’s direct observations, she can craft Tinkerbell’s Magical Moments. The public recognition not only pats a teacher on the back but opens the knowledge to the entire staff.

Do you want to get started? I encourage you to share this post with your principal. If your principal embraces this idea celebrate, you can help by building the academic corner and gathering snippets for the celebration’s corner. If your principal declines, move beyond the barrier, and start your own memo. You could begin with a newsletter to staff with the academic corner and celebrations. Perhaps, from there, the idea will grow. Good luck on your journey.

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