Recently, I listened to a story on NPR's All Things Considered called "'Serendipitous Interaction' Key To Tech Firms' Workplace Design" that highlighted the cultures of innovation and creativity at Google and Facebook. The leaders of these organizations intentionally create opportunities for collaboration, learning and fun because they believe it will lead to the creation of better products and services.
Unfortunately and ironically, our schools and districts -- institutions of learning -- often stifle collaboration, learning, and fun for adults and kids. The story about Google and Facebook caused me to reflect on the adult culture at Envision schools -- do we have fun? Upon reflection, it is clear that we are serious about student learning and we also believe in having some fun and celebration at the same time. I will share examples from our last All Envision professional development day (all four schools staff with the support office staff; i.e., central office).
In order to entertain and inspire our students during community meetings or assemblies, all of our schools produced choreographed musical productions of current pop hits like, "Gangnam Style." Video of these spirited, fun and sometimes "instructional" numbers began circulating around the network along with friendly "trash" talk about who had the most talent. It became clear that we needed to have a competition to determine the true Envision Idol and we called for each school and the Envision support office to be prepared to present a musical production at our next All-Envision Professional Development Day.
All of our schools along with their principals and the support office with yours truly, the CEO, stepping up to the challenge, too. We all had a chance to exercise our inner diva and rap/pop/rock star. It was a blast! We are still laughing and bragging about this event almost two months later.
At the conclusion of each All-Envision Day, principals present the coveted "C" awards and the Special Ed Department honors the "MVP of IEP." At Envision, we teach and assess the Four "C's": Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking and Completing Projects. Each professional development day each school honors one staff member with a Big C trophy and explains how they exemplify that "C." In addition, the Special Ed Team highlights one staff member at each school who exemplifies our Response to Intervention strategy through their practice in the classroom, at IEP meetings, and in their collaboration with the Special Ed Team. One person is honored with a medal from each school and from that group an MVP of IEP's is named too much fanfare -- standing ovation and cheering. The winner is presented with a perpetual trophy to be passed on to the next MVP at our next professional development day.
These might sound hokey but these "awards" authentically celebrate our aspirations and our colleagues in way that resonates with our culture.
How does your school or organization have fun? Please share how you have fun and celebrate each other professionally -- include photos and videos!