Up until a few weeks ago, I enjoyed the best of both work worlds – working at Method Headquarters a few days a week and from home the rest of the week. I was still able to have in-person meetings, catch a staff member to have a quick chat, and enjoy some community building just by sitting together in our staff lounge and talking about our pets (our furry children), our children (our non-furry pets), travel plans or dreams, the last Netflix documentary that everyone binge-watched, and the results of last night’s basketball game or football match.
When the world turned upside down, I was a bit thrown off. We’re an online school and organization. We’re built for this, but being 100% remote and isolated? This was a new challenge, at least for me. Those little interactions between staff members were little investments in building comradery and trust. I never had to worry that the audio wasn’t working when we were sitting in the same conference room.
To top things off, we had an all-day and in-person staff event that had been almost completely planned out including hands-on collaboration, focused discussions, and in-person team building. Knowing how important these events are to the Method organization, the task now became how do we make this every bit as collaborative and community building as we had planned?
Digging every single tool we had out of our online teaching tool belts, we pulled it off. There was a little music, some community sharing, a Method Family Feud game, very relevant data analysis and focus group discussion, and, dare I say it, a little fun?
That event made me realize that we have all the tools to still build a community as widespread as we want if we’re invested. It reminded me that we do this every day for our students, and we’re actually darn good at it. So a reminder to all of us out there - We’re all still part of a community, and even though we might feel separated right now, we can still build on that community. A few tips along the way:
Be Present. Be sure your team still knows you’re there - through messages, conversation, and in meetings - and when you’re “on” work, be 1000% there. Admittedly with so much going on, this is a tall order. Personally, I had to shut off my news notifications on my phone to accomplish this. However, your presence is felt and more valued than you think, so be there.
Be Overly Communicative. Be sure your community feels supported and send updates as much as is required to keep your team in the loop. Offer support, ask what they need help with, and go to them instead of waiting for them to come to you.
Be Human. Show the human side of you – the little things that have sparked a little joy and even the parts that can make us a little more vulnerable. Especially now, no one expects to have everything figured out, so express when you’re concerned and when you’re still working things out. Everyone appreciates a little honesty.
If I could point to a silver lining in all of this, I think this isolation reminded me to harness our collective spirit as a community. Faced with being separated from each other and Method Headquarters for a while, I realize that our organization is a lot stronger than the building we call Method HQ, and we have everything we need to build up from here.
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Jade was born and raised in San Diego, CA as one piece of a very large extended family, making her well suited to the world of education. She has several years of experience working in hybrid learning environments, and studied Literatures in English at UCSD before pursuing her teaching credential. After several years of teaching, Jade received her Masters degree in Teaching. She loves the challenge that teaching provides.