Sunday, January 8, 2017

Staff Bulletin Blog - I Love Writing It!

When I began blogging several years ago, I struggled because I was not confident about sharing my ideas out in public. I've sort of gotten over that fear and now, I blog when I have something on my mind. Sometimes, I follow through and actually write and publish something, and other times, I start a blog and never finish it. I realize that's how writers are, and not everything is meant to be published.

At one time,  I had 3 blogs - one for our construction project which is now completed, this personal blog, and a staff blog which is private. The construction blog was pretty easy to do; I'd take photos and update our followers- usually weekly - about what was going on with the project and what they could expect in the next week or so. This was a great way to communicate with our school community, and I believe it helped to alleviate some of the complaints about the inconveniences (noise, dust, barricades, etc.) that we endured throughout the construction. I would highly recommend this for anyone going through a project like ours especially since most of the families who were at our school for the groundbreaking were not able to see the completion of the buildings due to their military reassignment.

Right now, my blogging focus has been on our weekly staff bulletin. We had always used our Lotus Notes for that purpose, but it was limited and frankly, quite dull reading. When we proposed doing a blog instead, we asked the staff for their input. Some were concerned about privacy issues, and to alleviate their fears, we did agree to make the blog private. That's actually been a positive thing as we can share concerns and problems and get feedback and input from our staff that would not be possible if the bulletin were public.

Our staff bulletin has evolved as we've added more weekly features. Presently, we include a Principal's Message, News (about our school, Department, or about education in general), Shout-Outs!, Reminders,  Meeting this Week, Student Work (photos or student samples), Resources (with links and reflection questions), and Photos from the Past Week. Our bulletin is a great way to let others know what is going on in other classrooms or grade levels, to keep our staff informed about happenings at the school, state, or national level that impact educators, and to provide opportunities to continue to grow professionally through meaningful conversations and reflections.

Someone asked me how long it takes for me to write a weekly staff bulletin blog, and I replied that it is a work-in-progress throughout the week, but overall, it takes about 2-3 hours. I have my phone with me whenever I walk around campus so I can take photos whenever I notice something that I'd like to share with our staff. I am constantly reading blogs and articles and when I find one that seems appropriate for our staff, I'll save the link until the time is "right" to share it. More recently, I've added reflection questions that go with the blog or article so our staff can think about how this applies to them or what they might change or try out as a result of their reading.

The benefit to me as a result of writing this staff bulletin blog has been immeasurable. I am more thoughtful about how I craft my Principal's Message to the staff, and being able to share photos as well as resources has allowed me to reflect on the impact of the principalship in truly communicating with our staff and sharing our vision for the school. It helps to have everything in one place, and our blog is a tool that captures and communicates a weekly history of our school year.  The real beauty, though, is that each of our staff only needs to sign up with an email address, and they will receive the bulletin whenever it is published. Now there's no excuse to not know what is happening at our school!

I encourage schools to try it!

This is an example of one of a Principal's Message for our staff bulletin.

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