|A sense of belonging: How to create a warm welcome for new staff members|
In one job or another, we’ve all been the “new person” before. And, we can all remember how nerve-racking the first day can be, even if you have landed the perfect gig!
That’s why it’s extremely important to ensure new staff members feel welcome and valued at your school or educational institution. By creating a solid support system, you’ll be sure to achieve higher retention rates and positive word-of-mouth referrals (which will definitely prove beneficial during future recruitment efforts!)
Read on for a few tips to make new employees feel welcomed and appreciated:
Focus on mentoring
Pairing new teachers with seasoned veterans can be a great way to make them instantly feel part of the team. Take the lead of the New Brunswick School District 2’s Beginning Teacher Induction Program, which pairs new teachers with mentors. The more experienced teachers “play a very important role for the new teacher. Whether the new teacher has relatively easy questions such as those regarding the location of resources in the school or more complicated questions about teaching strategies or curriculum delivery, the mentor is there with the answers”
Secure all new teacher-mentor pairs at least a month before the school year begins to allow for enough acquaintance and prep time. Encourage the teaching veterans to support the new recruits by sharing personal stories of their first year as teachers, as well as inspirational anecdotes to keep up the positive energy. Once the year has begun, each pair should try to connect at least once per week to go over any questions and concerns the new teacher may have.
Make their presence known
An effective tactic for welcoming new staff members is spreading the good word about their arrival, so they don’t feel like lurking strangers around fellow co-workers:
- Post their photo and bio on your website’s home page or main staff page, under the heading, “Welcome to the <School Name> family!” If your organization has a blog, invite the new teacher to write a guest post as an introduction to his or her personality, teaching style and what he or she hopes to accomplish in the upcoming year.
- Hold a meet-and-greet lunch for the entire staff (or department – depending on the size of your organization) as a way for your new teachers to meet everyone within a relatively short time period. Have them give a short speech about themselves, then follow it with a quick team builder where all employees are asked questions about the new teachers based on the short bios just delivered.
This will get everyone talking about the new teacher, and it is a great way to make his or her information stick! Award teachers who correctly answer inquiries with school spirit-themed prizes like Rally Towels or Mini Plastic Footballs imprinted with your school’s logo. Give a special school spirit prize to the new teacher for being such a good sport – A Drawstring Bag filled with everything he or she will need to show school pride: A logo’d Sweatshirt, a Calendar to hang up in the office or at home, and an Apple-shaped Soft Key Tag imprinted with “Our teachers are #1!”.
- A good tour can go a long way. During the week before school begins, most teachers and staff will be in their respective classrooms and easily accessible with no students to tend to. Arrange for a senior staff member to take new teachers on a tour through the ins and outs of the building, introducing them to co-workers when possible. Make sure to cover the essentials such as: Where is their department’s office? Teacher’s lounge? Closest bathroom? Secret stash of supplies? Think back to any resources you utilized in your first year on the job and include those in your “insider’s tour,” too.
Gestures of good will
Finally, consider going above-and-beyond the call of “greeting duty” by throwing a few of these good deeds into your welcoming mix:
- During the hustle and bustle of preparing for the first day of the school year, it can be hard to remember to take time for yourself. Remind your new teachers how appreciated they are by having a “self-care” package waiting on their desk on the first day. From Building Blocks Stress Balls to logo’d Ring-shaped Star Shape Massagers, your attention to their personal well-being will not go unnoticed by new recruits!
- Show your new hire that he or she has support from the higher-ups as well. Consider having the principal (or the like) write a personal note, welcoming him or her to the school. Knowing that supervisors are behind you can work wonders amidst first-week struggles.
- For the first month of the school year, stick a note of inspiration into your new hire’s mailbox each morning. From fun quotes to personal encouragement, new teachers will appreciate the positive daily reinforcement of a job well-done.
Welcoming a new teacher or staff member to your educational organization can be an exciting and motivating time. By adding a few of these ideas to your current greeting tactics, you’ll be sure that no new hires are left to fend for themselves!