“When we eat together, when we set out to do so deliberately,
life is better, no matter what your circumstances.” ~Thomas Keller
This seems like such an obvious statement, and yet, it is a concept that is easily lost amidst the demands of modern education. I have listened to countless school leaders tell me about how their schools are like “silos,” “commuter schools,” “like a group of stars shining on different planets,” etc., etc. These leaders have capable and caring staff members who are each doing a great job, but have little to no connection with any other teachers or staff at their school. Silos and stars and teachers who rush in and out do create school culture… just not the kind of school culture anyone wants.
How can you draw your people together? How can you encourage them to communicate, collaborate and linger?
Eating together creates community. It is a simple and magical fact. Don’t know how or where to start building community at your school? Start with eating together. Invite the teachers and staff to bring lawn chairs and eat lunch together outside. Teachers at Colfax High School do this once a week on what they call, “Lawn Chair Friday.” Not only do the teachers and staff enjoy this, it is also a great visual of community for the students.
Does your staff scatter around the teachers lounge during their lunch hour? I heard of a principal who solved the scatter problem by bolting the tables in the teachers lounge together. Not surprisingly, lunch hours became a fun time of conversation and laughter once the teachers were sitting together while they ate.
Get creative and find a way to get your people eating together. It is a sure fire way to build community!
This is an excerpt from my upcoming book, “Creating & Sustaining Positive School Culture.” Click here to download a preview excerpt of the book and join in the school culture conversation.