September 10, 2020 – Virtual Culture & Team Building

General Resources and Q&A with Susan Duncombe:

  • Video recording of Q&A portion with Susan Duncombe – LINK
  • Mentimeter results – LINK

Breakout Room Notes (Innovative Things You’ve Done to Build Culture):

  • Friday Virtual Happy Hours to close out the week on a good note (optional so no big announcements or shares in case someone is not present)
  • Virtual Staff Retreat: gift bags with certificate to order lunch sent to each ahead, staff planning time, staff workshops.
  • Virtual Happy Hours with a slide show presentation of fun pics to celebrate a staff member retirement
  • Giving families options to zoom or phone call or social distance meetings
  • Upping the frequency of staff meetings to weekly vs monthly. Some are optional.
  • Mental health staff check ins
  • Virtual yoga sessions for staff
  • Virtual meditation sessions for staff
  • Meeting up for walks or coffee during staff meetings
  • Incentives door prizes in meetings

  • Focusing on the mental health piece much more. Checking on feelings (ex: if you were a form of weather) 
  • Breakout rooms – find 3 things we all have in common in our own house and report back
  • Checking in – how are you (can’t say good or fine); how is your soul?
  • Physical activity challenge for the team (training for a 5K, walk or half marathon)
  • Planking contest (though voicing concern about personal boundaries/limitations – thinking differently about able-bodied and space; potential solution: do your version of plank)
  • Brain break activities (see Drew DeMarie’s Minute2Mentor video!)
  • Postcards for mentees to send to their mentors – connecting without technology
  • Dividing into smaller groups – coffee check in more regularly
  • Everyone types in word they are feeling – word cloud; surface level and fast
  • Scavenger hunt with staff, mentors, and students; what’s something you can’t live without. Stranded on island, what would you take with you? Answer why.
  • Go outside your box – talk to different people; different sectors through virtual events
  • National donut day – buying a dozen for mentees
  • Gift basket drop offs
  • Emoji charades (one person texts a string of 10 emojis to someone else on staff and they have to act out each out to everyone on video, then the rest of the group guesses what the emojis were)
  • Once a week during staff meetings – close with Appreciation/acknowledgment/ask/apology. Any one person on the team can share any of those 4 things with all staff.
  • Use of Nearpod (https://nearpod.com)
  • Memory Games, Matching Game (like family feud), Interactive polling – but with backend view so that administrator’s can view who is responding. Free for “Teachers” – but don’t need a .edu email address. Sign up with a Google Account or Office365 Account. 
  • Creative Use of Countdown Timers to increase youth participation: Youtube.com MR TIMMER
  • Living Room Conversations – (been a great way for staff and others to connect informally about important topics). Free to join & access curriculum discussion topics: race, politics, etc.
  • Use of Token Board to increase participation of youth participants in group activities. Youth earn tokens for ‘attending’ group meetings/etc. then they can earn prizes after accumulating a certain amount of tokens. Program staff mail prizes to their home address (neat for kids, getting mail – they’ve responded well). 
  • In the wake of WAY too many professional development opportunities this fall – Friends First has decided to keep staff connections time with just fun stuff. They created SWAG bags & dropped them on staff porches. They included: prizes, scavenger hunt cards, and “friendlies” a creative certificate customized for each staff member with creative ‘awards’ to highlight their gifts & funny things.
  • Joint Movie-Watching with a follow-up discussion (in this case – it’s part professional development – with the movie/discussion being about racial justice).
  • Use of pre-made bingo/scavenger hunt on team meetings
  • Rule of thumb: if you’re going to do it – test the software- test your capabilities and PRACTICE using it before rolling it out to staff, or mentors or youth.
  • Creating a virtual space for very specific issues for mentors who are having similar issues (if a mentor has similar issues- sub abuse-) and doing specific trainings just for those humans/ topics.
  • Teasers- sending out a purpose statement – what can you communicate in a sentence or 2? There are the things that we are going to talk about- this gives some “pull through to it-” what can you message out in a quote or something – text things out a nugget they might learn
  • Short sessions- (less than an hour!)
  • Use people who are attending to reach out to people who aren’t attending (combine that with that idea of a teaser)
  • Maybe people who aren’t attending, but they appreciate the sense of community
  • Kids giving tips about mentoring – what are kids saying about how to be a good mentor
  • Hilarious videos from kids – “Make me chocolate cupcakes”
  • Opportunities for making individual connections with others
  • Engagement through games
  • Personalize your virtual background
  • Youth = ice-breakers that discourage sitting in front of and staring at a screen; share activities synchronous and/or asynchronous via FB or YouTube; BINGO; analogy game “Being a _______ is like”
  • Adults = connect virtually on a regular schedule; start meeting with highlighting “good things” from each participant; give opportunities for others to lead and/or teach; create spaces for small groups to share; recognize and be sensitive to screen/virtual fatigue

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