Starting out my first year as principal, my staff let me know loud and clear (Want to Know Your Team & School Better? Ask These 3 Questions) that they needed a leader who prioritized communication. And let’s be honest, what team doesn’t? I heard this message from them so loudly and clearly, in fact, I made my growth word that first year “Communication.” (What’s Your Word?)
Over halfway into my third year, communication remains a priority. (See some of the formal ways we communicate as a team: 18.19 TM Leader Communication Plan.) Strong communication comes in many forms and the best ways not only keep everyone on the same page but also connect us a community. One of my favorite ways we stay connected as a team is through our morning huddles, what we call our M@M’s, short for Meetings at the Mailbox.
Three days a week, about ten minutes before our teacher’s day officially begins, Taylor Mill leaders, staff members, from all over the building start making their way to the middle of school. Specifically, we come to huddle around this old-school mailbox.
We spend these precious, quiet minutes before our geniuses begin making their way to their classrooms, together. A typical Monday M@M includes a casual sharing of fun weekend adventures and a logistical touch-base. “What fun things did you do this weekend?” along with “What questions do you have about this week’s activities, meetings, PLCs, drills, etc.?” We check on each other and ask “What do you need?” or “How can I help you this week?”
Depending on what we need at the time, some of the M@M’s are used for inspiration and challenges. For example, this week I know that, even though we were not more than 2 weeks from New Year’s day, some of us were already struggling with maintaining goals we had set for ourselves. To inspire us to persevere, I shared a passage from Girl Wash Your Face‘s chapter, “I’ll Start Tomorrow,” along with a quick Headspace video, The Hole in the Road. Last month, to remind ourselves of why our purpose is essential to our work and vision, we watched Michael Jr’s video, Know Your Why.
There are M@M’s when we take the opportunity to practice gratitude, one of our core values. We do this in various ways, including using the time to write a positive postcard, tell the person next to us why they’re rockin’ awesome, or text someone a sweet note of thanks. This gives us a chance, with time we’ve already carved out, to prioritize an act that both makes us better and sends ripples of kindness out into our community and beyond.
Some days we just need a laugh and take the chance to have fun together. During our second year, when our staff’s use of Twitter and our school-wide hashtag, #TMGenius, was gaining momentum, we watched the Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake Hashtag video clip. When the last Lotto-mania rolled through the country, we had a lottery of our own, where each leader chose a number between 1 and 100 for a chance to win lunch for their team. Four weeks later, without a previous winner and in full lottery tradition, I chose four random numbers and a leader (finally) won!
Then there are the M@M’s that we spend sharing stories. As a recent winter storm was approaching, we spent our time together sharing our favorite snow stories, because anyone who has lived through winter storms in Kentucky has at least one interesting one worth sharing! And we always make time for shout-outs and celebrations because we can never have too much encouragement and celebration!
Vala Afshar says, “We are not a team because we work together. We are a team because we respect, trust, and care for each other.” In order to develop respect, trust, and care for one another, we must connect with one another on a regular basis. Our path to greatness requires our commitment as teammates and our vision calls us to be an inspired community.
How do you connect and inspire your team? What other ideas would you add to a morning huddle?