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3 easy ways to ask your staff how they're doing!

Alissa Christensen
June 10, 2024

When you ask a friend or colleague how they’re doing, you hope they tell you how they’re really feeling. Those conversations can be challenging at times, especially when you’re at work. School leaders can gain valuable insights on their staff’s wellbeing and build trusting relationships by asking this simple question - “How are you doing?”. However, it’s all about how and when you ask!

Here’s why checking in with your team more often works:

  • Builds a culture of trust and openness. By consistently asking teachers about their experiences, school leaders demonstrate a genuine interest in their wellbeing and professional growth. This practice builds a culture of trust and openness, where teachers feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and concerns, fostering a supportive school community.

  • Creates actionable feedback. Frequent check-ins give school leaders timely feedback they can act on, helping them spot opportunities for growth and improvement quickly. This regular input makes teachers feel valued, heard, and supported. By addressing concerns promptly and making informed decisions, school leaders create a positive school community.
  • Improves teacher retention. Regular check-ins can play a crucial role in improving teacher retention. Teachers are more likely to stay in a supportive and communicative work environment where their voices are heard and their contributions are acknowledged. Keeping experienced and motivated teachers makes the school more stable and improves the quality of education for students.

Tips and Tricks

⏱️ Keep it short and simple.
Choosing 3-5 questions respects teachers' time and mental bandwidth, making it easier for them to provide honest and actionable insights without feeling overwhelmed.

💬 Be ready to share too!
Offer your own responses to the questions asked. This approach creates a more inclusive atmosphere where your team feels more willing to open up with you and each other!

🤝 Share appreciation.
Express gratitude for the time and input of staff members; this will encourage them to continue being honest about how they are feeling and to actively engage in future discussions.

🎉 Acknowledge responses.
After reviewing their responses, communicate any actions, commonalities, or celebrations to your team or individuals. Taking the time to follow-up on how they responded to the questions makes them feel valued and heard.

🗓️ Plan the next check-in.
Make a mental note to check in with your staff, either together or individually, about once a month. Pencil in dates on your calendar to plan ahead for your next check-in with your team, ensuring that regular communication and support remain a priority.

Three Ways to Ask

1. Sticky note check-in
During the first 5 minutes of a meeting, distribute sticky notes to your staff and prompt them to respond to a few check-in questions. You can decide to make it as collaborative as you want, or keep it anonymous! Following this activity, take time to review the responses and share any noteworthy observations, celebrations, or feedback with your team.

2. T.G.I.F. Reflection
Four quick questions to ask your staff about their week! School leaders can implement this simple process to check-in with their team and ask them how things are going at work.

  • Which TEAM member went above and beyond this week?
  • What GOALS did you achieve this week?
  • Share an IDEA to celebrate or have fun together at school.
  • How did you have FUN this week?

Try this activity during a staff or grade-level meeting to enhance collaboration and celebration. This same approach can also be used with students! Encourage your team to implement this with their class by writing the questions on a whiteboard, and students can respond with sticky notes!

3. Four Square Responses
Gather feedback throughout the year to assess your team's sentiments about their school experience. Print the questions found here and place them around the room, then distribute stickers or sticky notes to each staff member - they will need one for each question! Then have your team walk to each prompt and place their sticker on the response that best fits them for each question. Following this activity, take time to review the responses and share any noteworthy observations with your staff!

Ready to get started? Download our ready-to-print templates to try these simple engagement activities with your staff at your next team meeting. With consistency and intentionality over time, these check-ins can foster a culture of trust, strengthen relationships, and nurture a supportive environment at your school!

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