September 28, 2015 as I sat with my son leaning against my knees staring at the night sky, I was amazed at how many people known & unknown were sharing in the lunar eclipse (Blood moon). This past week it seemed that all of Ontario held their breath & then cheered as Jose Bautista pulled out a three-run homer which advanced them into the American League Championship. What I found incredible about these two events is the positive energy derived from connecting with others. The moon literally pulled the world together to watch.
“Belonging” resonates with me. It relates to learning, but I believe it is a key to happiness in life. At a grocery shopping I noticed a senior gentleman scouring the refrigerator displays. I realized he was looking for a single portion turkey piece because he was alone for Thanksgiving. I couldn’t imagine not having my family around me & realized how blessed I am . I belong, I have a tribe.
As a child I would invite myself into play with other children & appointed myself as official “friend maker” for my younger sister & new potential play mates. “Hi, my name is Debby do you want to play?” This has never left me as I still can strike up a conversation with anyone, anywhere. I love to hear stories of how our staff they have connected. Many use our private face book group called “Inspired ECE’S” to encourage, share stories & inspire each other. They plan social events e.g. clothing swap or drinks at the pub after volunteering at a child’s fair.
Belonging vs. loneliness & isolation. It takes courage to reach out. As a leader seeking to create the utopia of happy work place I want all our staff to feel that they belong. How does administration facilitate this?
- Be intentional Set up forums for “tribes” to grow. The social media connection as mentioned above (the private face book group) or “communities of practice” at staff meetings where staff are linked to teams for social competition events and deeper thinking and reflecting.
- Promote the commonalities Like professional development on a topic that interests the staff. Thinking back to last year’s comedy Early Year’s speaker. We had a 80% turn out of staff on a Saturday!
- Understand the differences As administration rewarding & recognizing different approaches that meet the organizations core values sets the tone for a culture of inclusion. It’s not cookie cutter compliance. Thinking & innovation in the context of a team is recognized.
- Celebrate it My hope, that all staff are proud to be a “Growing Together staff”. This happens by layering the awareness of why & what staff do every day, matters. Encouraging the use of the organizations’ logo on clothing and “swag”. Using social media to highlight the staff’s daily stories e.g. twitter and face book. Funding a social committee & encourage “belonging” as their vision. Most recently they hosted a staff super hero day and the secondary advantage was having parent’s offer praise for their favourite “super-hero” staff through face book comments.
- Personalizing it Making personal connections with each staff so they feel acknowledged, appreciated and heard.
So whether connecting to people around the globe over the blood moon, or at a staff meeting, a sense of belonging is the foundation to self-awareness.
“ Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family, whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.”