Build Climate Through Visuals

Interesting Ideas

I want to share three bulletin board ideas for the front hallway of your school close to your entrance, or as a front display case. These visuals will add to your climate and culture with staff, students and their families.  During regular times when parents entered our school prior to the pandemic these boards would be prepared for the beginning of the year and curriculum night/Open House evening in high traffic areas in order to invite participation and get some great feedback for you and your school.  Plus, they are just fun.

Ask staff to participate with you in an ‘Ask Me About…’ board.  We asked staff to provide a photograph and we gave an index card to each of them.  On the index card they would write a topic that they had an interest in, and/or knowledge about, that others might not realize they had this interest.  Some were very factual and detailed and others were put up for fun.  Across the top of the bulletin board in large letters we would write, ‘ASK ME ABOUT…” and then below would be the photographs of staff and the cards showing their interest. Staff would include travel destinations, gardening, sports etc.  Not only does it show another side of the staff and you can have some fun with it the students and staff can make connections with others.  The number of times that staff shared with me that students approached them and mentioned that they also had an interest in or love for their topic was numerous. You can also have great fun with the staff that sometimes are a little slow in handing things in!  I often made up staff interests, used a staff photo from our school files and put up my own pictures of staff.  They were very curious when students would come up to them and ask them about their knowledge of ‘animals that start with the letter ‘P’’ or ‘world’s best water slides’.  When complete you can see the great variety and talents of the adults in the building.  Families that come into the school could see another human side of the great people that care for their children and the positive climate we have in the building.  It is important for your parents to see that the adults in the school care and support each other and it is a positive place to work.

The second idea is a blank slate.  Provide a bulletin board that is empty and covered in paper so students, staff and families can post positive comments, affirmations, quotes etc.  If the heading on the top of the board is something like ‘Our Positive Comment Board’ and you have a few staff begin the process you will be surprised at the high quality of comments that you receive.  As a graffiti board you can encourage diagrams, and sketches as well.  Have staff introduce it to the students in their class and have them share the intent of the board.  It can change over the course of the year, during special events, to encourage sports’ teams, days of significance etc.  You will need to monitor the board and be prepared to attach paper over top of any section where inappropriate messages may appear.  In all honesty I have not had an issue with this idea as long as staff pre-teach the purpose behind it and students are well aware of the expectations.  Students loved walking by and seeing their work and the comments, sayings of their classmates.  Consider having a space for the students to leave their impressions for sharing.

And finally, a place for your community to leave their warm wishes and thoughts.  During open house we would have a graffiti board similar to the idea above just for parents.  We would write above the board something like, ‘What are your hopes for your child this year at school?’ Or ‘What opportunities would you like to see this year for your child?’ Or ‘How can we be the best school for your child?’  You get the idea.  This would be a place for parents to put down their thoughts and share for staff what they see in our school.  Another way to accomplish the same outcome is to send home with students a paper with a star or the school logo and ask students to assign to their parents the homework of putting their answers on the paper that is provided.  When the papers are returned they are tiled up on the board for staff to read the comments, and this way you can select and edit the comments you wish to post.  Another way to accomplish the same result is to post on Twitter, or send out a survey, blog and ask parents to respond to the question in some manner letting them know you are going to print out some of the responses and display them in the front hallway of the school with names, or no names depending on your views.  Some families signed their names on the board or on their paper and some did not, so if done electronically I would give them the option to have their name included or not.  In my experience the vast majority of the parent responses were in the category of being safe, having fun, feeling heard, belonging, having opportunities, making friends and not specific to areas of the curriculum.  Staff need to see this, it reinforces the time and energy we invest in the important work of relationships, equity, belonging and mental health.  As parents we do want the same things for our children. The knowledge that they are attending a school where the adults care for them, get to know them as individuals and see all their strengths, desires and assets. Let your community and staff see what others see as the vision for the school.

If you use any of these ideas during the course of the year I would love to see visuals.  Send me a photo, I’d love to see it in action once again.  

Come on back next week for more leadership interesting ideas!

Be well.

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