Pocket PD with Todd Broadbent from The Toddcast Teacher Podcast
Ever thought about starting a social committee at your school? Wondered how to get support to get a committee up and running? Looking for ideas for your whole-staff events? Todd Broadbent from the Toddcast Teacher Podcast talks to us about his experience on the social committee here in Central Victoria.
At Todd’s school, they try and do a couple of events each term, starting small, with events such as staff breakfasts, which are open to all staff. They have a coffee van that comes into school on a Friday, which offers not only a caffeine hit, but the opportunity for staff to chat before the school day. This helps connect staff and reduces isolation. There’s also other smaller events such as themed dress up, meal days and scavenger hunts. Larger events, such as progressive dinners and an Amazing Race, have also been a big hit with staff.
So how do you go about getting staff on board?
Todd highlights one of the key aspects of the social committee is the voluntary nature of these events. By just ‘putting it out there’, there is no pressure or expectation that staff attend. Understanding the lives of staff outside of school (e.g sporting events, family time and needs etc.) helps the social committee cater events to suit the needs of staff, such as events both before school, at break times, during evenings and sometimes on weekends.
Todd’s tips for social committees:
- Use Google Sheets to keep track of who is coming along. This reduces what can be a confusing email trail and staff can easily access the document.
- Just put it out there. Whoever comes, comes. Continue to provide a range of opportunities and experiences that are engaging and exciting.
- Gather staff input. Survey staff about the types of events they’d like to participate in. Staff might also have connections with providers outside of school that might be able to support the running of some of your events (e.g. a friend who runs a coffee van).
- Enlist staff support. Grabbing someone else who can help organise events and bounce ideas off one another can help ease the organisational load.
- Start small. Your first event might be a staff breakfast, or a ‘warm and fuzzy’ buddy where you write gratitude notes and do small things for your secret person. These are all ways that can reduce isolation and make people feel valued and seen.
- Have a balance of ‘free’ and ‘paid’ experiences. For example, having all your staff experiences as dinners or lunches out can be financially draining. Consider how low cost or no cost options can be implemented.
While events such as these don’t tackle the ingrained and systemic issues teachers are facing, Todd knows that by approaching these events with a very real desire to connect with colleagues, he says it avoids being seen as tokenistic. He says he feels his colleagues understand and appreciate the huge effort he puts in to make these events happen and so, approach the social committee events with enjoyment.
Pocket PD brings 10 minutes of knowledge sharing and insights into wellbeing from those within the field of education. Whether it’s from a professor or a pre-service teacher, we all have experiences and knowledge to share. We also believe access to professional learning shouldn’t be restricted by where you live - rural and remote teachers we see you!