Classes begin tomorrow. I guess I’m ready. I actually don’t have a class until Wednesday, but like all my colleagues, I’ve been prepping and thinking about the new school year. Our leadership team has been talking a lot about scene setting, about creating the conditions for success, mostly at the school level, of course, but I’ve come to think that setting the scene is important at every level.
Our challenge for the year is to create a sense of community. That’s a challenge for any school in any year, but it feels especially important for us this year as we welcome a new head of school. While I’ve always felt it’s important to create a sense of community within my classroom, it’s easy to let that go after a while, to just assume in a small community everyone knows each other. So I’m working on some deliberate ways to focus on community building in all the activities I’m involved in. In my classroom, I’m opening with some activities for us to get to know each other and will continue to create opportunities for students to get to know each other.
For a committee I chair, I’m doing some mission-setting activities and I’ve moved a retreat that used to take place in April up to October, so that we can set the scene for the year(s) to come. And I’m hoping to continue to do work to bring this group closer together.
In general, I’m thinking more about creating community in everyday interactions as well. It’s hard sometimes to work on bigger picture issues when you get bogged down in daily work. You think you don’t have time to eat lunch with people, chat in the hallway, etc. You think you need to get down to business rather than do things that build relationships and camaraderie. But these are the things on which you build not just community but a functional institution. I’ve always believed that people are the most important aspect of any institution. We ignore that at our peril. It can be messy and hard to work on these issues. It’s easier to buy new software or create new spaces. People, though, use that software and those spaces. It’s always about the people.