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Innovating School Pictures

If you were to list ten traditions you think most schools have in common, my guess is "school pictures" would be somewhere on your list. School pictures almost feel like a right of passage each Fall.

Recently, our team applied a modest amount of innovation to the traditional practice. We invited staff to bring in their favorite book and hold it up during their individual staff picture. (We worked with the photographer ahead of time to ensure this was okay.) Our plan is to create a giant staff composite poster featuring 100+ employees displaying the books we all love.

We're excited to see how students respond once they see the poster on display in our entryway. You might be thinking the innovation above is relatively simple - and I'd be inclined to agree with you. However, this simple innovation led to some really meaningful conversation amongst staff.

As I walked through the hallways the day pictures were taken, I heard our team sharing special reasons they selected the specific books they brought in for their pictures. In the staff lounge, one person reminisced how her dad would read the book she chose to her each night when she was a child. Another person shared how she had reached out to her family members for advice on what book to bring in since there were so many to choose from. It seemed everywhere I turned people were connecting around books.

It seems the simple act of having a picture taken with a book paled in comparison to all the conversations that followed. This reminds me of a quote I read recently.

"The conversation is the work."

  • When you're investing in a culture of literacy...the conversation is the work.

  • When you're hoping a student will fall in love with reading...the conversation is the work.

  • When you're trying to build a relationship with a student or co-worker...the conversation is the work.

The importance of conversation obviously transcends literacy, school pictures, and innovation. Whatever you’re doing…the conversation may be the most important part of the work. So what are the people you serve currently talking about? How might you enrich those conversations and help them center on the mission, vision, and values of your school?

My new book “Reclaiming Our Calling” will be released in a couple months. The book is centered on the belief that kids are more than numbers and will feature actionable stories (just like this one). If you’d like to engage with our community of readers please leave your name in the Underground Book Club link. It’s our fun way to connect around a cause we believe deeply in. We invite you to interact with us on #ReclaimingOurCalling as well.



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