In this challenging landscape of retention and recruitment issues, growing your own team is critical for any school.
One of the easiest ways to build team spirit in a school is to enlist characters from the world of books or comics on dress-up days.
Dress-up days have punctuated my days as a Head over the past 20 years. Days linked to developing a love of reading, showing compassion to others on charity days or just for the fun of it.
As a new Head I often chose solitary superheroes or villains for my costumes – Batman, the Pied Piper and Darth Vader, but eventually realised that the solo flawed lone ranger was not the best for building a team even if they had useful gadgets to get rid of pesky sharks, rats or recalcitrant rebels!
Developing the team and choosing costumes to celebrate teamwork was a much better strategy and so I moved onto Charlotte the Spider, Mummy Bear and more collaborative, empathic characters.
One particular year the theme of superheroes was born.
The school were supporting Children in Need and rather than having each one of the teachers choose a character of their own, I sent each team member an invite to take on a superhero profile based on their strengths. I asked them if they would consider joining the Kenilworth Crusaders.
Seeing their strengths in the form of superheroes, they could see how well they all fitted together, that each one was stronger together, each brought out the best in each other and have continued to do so to this day.
A systematic plan of professional development is the right of every member of staff and I believed this even more when I saw how well the whole school team worked together that day. Since then we have developed a coaching culture in the school with staff listening, supporting and guiding each other. Professional development continues to be a high priority for the school even with a constrained budget.
Some of the crusaders have now moved onto new schools taking their superhero strengths to build new teams. To all, I want to say thank you, for the joy and creative thinking they continue to bring to teaching and for sharing their strengths so generously with each other.
Schools who keep a healthy sense of fun as part of their core values, not only benefit the pupils, who want to come to school but have clear benefits for the staff too! The dopamine release when we laugh together as a team go a long way to creating a sense of belonging for any group.
And now as I have revealed my superhero identity as ‘Nature’, half of the dynamic duo who led Kenilworth. I shall let you into my secret superhero power. I use the sun and a blue sky as my energy and am very good at imagining a blue sky even when it rains.
So for any school out there who are looking for ways to develop a team or help one of your staff find their super strength, look for me at sunskycoaching.co.uk and find out how my coaching can help you. Who knows what strengths your team might still be hiding behind secret identities?
From left to right Back row Bouncing belle, Tidal wave, Inferno, Rock Solid and the Vocalist
Front row Miss Markup, Team Spirit, Nature and Nurture, Captain Fan-tach-etic and Safeguard