Several years ago I was named Principal of a brand new elementary school.  We were fortunate to have over 800 students and just a little over 100 staff members on board.  As the leader of the building, I needed to ensure that everyone was focused and moving in the same direction.  This required student and staff engagement.

Students Need to Be Engaged

In a school, the goal is always to figure out what is the best way to engage the students.  Student engagement is crucial if the students are going to learn and move forward in their educational careers.  As an elementary school, our mission statement was “Inspire, Engage, Ignite, and Educate.”  I firmly believed that before we could educate someone, we needed to motivate them.  I wanted to spur them on…basically, move them from the starting point and hand them off to the second part, which was to engage them.  I like how Merriam-Webster dictionary defines engage: “to hold the attention of” or “to induce to participate.”  Both of those definitions are what we were looking for from the teachers to the students.  We talked about what that looks like and even did role playing with the staff in our meetings.

Staff Need to Be Engaged

Even though this was excellent for our students, I believed that it was even more important for me as an administrator to figure out the best possible way to have staff engagement.  I say the word staff because it was not just about engaging with the teachers and teacher assistants.  It was about engaging with the custodians, the food service workers, the district maintenance managers, the district support staff, the high school student helpers, the bus drivers, and the parent group and volunteers.

As a natural born storyteller, I knew that I could inspire my employees semi-frequently through motivational stories and anecdotes.  I could do that through the beginning of the year meetings, mid-week gatherings before school, and through my weekly email communication.  However, beyond giving them the Successories inspiration poster phrases, I wanted to engage with them in ways that were truly unique.

Those are the stories that I want to share with you in this series of blogs.  Employee engagement was crucial for me when I opened that brand new school, and employee engagement continues to be one of the biggest needs in any school, church or business.  In 2013-2014, Gallup conducted a survey that looked at teacher engagement.  In that survey, they found that only 30% of U.S. teachers are engaged in their work!

That is a huge reason for my excitement for Align Us.  They are allowing me to think about employee engagement in an entirely different way.  They are bringing all of my communication together in a single spot, where I can create that virtual community that is necessary for 2017 (and moving forward) and giving me the tools to engage my employees with projects, tasks, strategic planning, and overall development.

Join me over the next several weeks where I will share with you about the staff engagement that I brought to my elementary school, along with hearing some great stories that we have gathered from other school personnel.