For school leaders, summer is an opportunity to reflect on the past year and begin planning for the year ahead. For many school districts, the first big event of the new school year may be a districtwide convocation to welcome employees back and kick off the year.
Some district leaders may view convocation as just one more thing to do at the beginning of a new school year. Yet, in most cases, convocation may be one of the only opportunities to assemble all school district employees at the same time. School leaders should take advantage of this rare occurrence; a well-planned convocation with a thoughtful message for employees can set the tone for an incredible school year.
Here are a few things to consider, to make the most out of your convocation event:
Celebrate! Convocation is a terrific opportunity to accentuate the positive. School leaders may consider compiling a brief year-in-review video to show during the event, highlighting some of the milestones accomplished by students and staff members. Convocation is a great time to celebrate any accomplishments that happened toward the end of the school year or during the summer. Perhaps a spring season athletic team won a big championship, or an employee won a prestigious award. Maybe a beloved employee has retired, and a wonderful replacement has been named. Sharing exciting news about the school district never gets old. Current employees will feel proud, and new hires will feel a sense of excitement about joining the organization. Convocation is a great time to recognize and show pride in the district’s accomplishments from the past year. Showcasing students and employees in a favorable light contributes to a positive culture that helps the entire school district flourish.
Connect – Convocation can be a wonderful reunion time for teachers and district employees since many attendees may have not seen each other since the end of the previous school year. This connection time is also crucial for teams adding new members. Meeting up at convocation and having time to get to know one another is a great way to make a new employee feel welcome and less intimidated as the first day of school approaches. Convocation is also a time for employees to reconnect with former colleagues who have moved into new roles or different campuses within the school district.
Community – Convocation is a great opportunity to call on the support of the community. Local businesses may be willing to sponsor breakfast at the event or contribute money to provide district t-shirts or swag for attendees. Since school districts typically employ a large number of people in the community, businesses are excited to be asked to participate via either a physical presence at the event or visibility in the form of sponsorship. It is important to publicly recognize these community partners for their contributions. A shout-out on social media is a great move here.
Coordinate – This year, our school district is using convocation as a springboard to a multi-day professional development summit, where a variety of training sessions will be available for employees to attend before the start of the school year. Sessions will be led by presenters sharing their expertise, knowledge, and best practices with attendees and continuing education credits can be earned. Attendees are required to attend sessions relevant to their respective roles but are also empowered to choose some of their sessions. Providing professional development that is relevant to the specific needs of an employee’s job is invigorating and empowering. Targeted grade-level training sessions will offer an opportunity for teachers to get timely professional development and collaborate with counterparts from other campuses, sharing best practices and making meaningful connections with one another. Hosting convocation in conjunction with the professional development event is intended to energize employees, leaving them equipped and ready for a new year.
Commitment – the energy and enthusiasm that comes at the start of a new school can be harnessed in a well-planned convocation event. School leaders can acknowledge employees for a fantastic prior year, thank them for their dedication to the district and remind them that it’s what we do next that counts. Convocation is a great way to renew commitment to the profession and get everyone excited about the year ahead.
A well-planned districtwide convocation where teachers and staff can enjoy each other’s company and engage in meaningful collaboration and professional development is a great way to kick off your school year. If done right, your district will start a new school year with positivity and momentum on day one.