As we all settle into a new school year with our school communities, I want to share two practices that I engage in every fall with my team.
1. I write a handwritten letter to every staff member.
These yearly handwritten letters to my staff are a MUST for me. The note includes words of inspiration for the new year, a challenge to each of them and words of encouragement if they have had some personal battles in the last year. It’s all about relationships.
2. At a staff meeting, I give teachers time to write themselves a letter, which they seal and give to me.
When we reach the toughest point of the school year, I give everyone their letters back. It always touches their heart and gives them the motivation they need in that moment. The only prompt is that they’re writing a letter of encouragement to themselves – it’s about them, not me.
These letters have been part of my practice for 10 years, as a principal and as an assistant principal. To this day, I have people send me pictures of their letters from those early years.
Each of these is a simple practice, but as a leader, you never know how meaningful your words might be to someone.