A Fun Initiative for Staff and Students

I’m back from fall break this week and headed into 2nd quarter. We usually go somewhere on a mountain adventure, but this year we opted for a stay-cation and it was just great. Long walks with the puppy Sombra, sunny patio sessions, and a little shopping time. Ahh….

One of the cool things about our calendar, is we have a PWL day (Professional Work and Learning) after every break. So instead of diving straight back in, we have a day to come together as a staff and do some work.

When we get together on these days, or on Wednesday PDs, we usually always kick things off with an initiative.

Initiatives are a terrific structure for building community and relational trust, while also warming everyone up for some learning.


I thought I’d share the initiative our fourth grade team put together for this week, so you can use it too!

An initiative is a bit different from an “activity” in that there’s always a clear learning target or purpose for what you’ll be doing. It’s also followed by a debrief at the end, giving everyone the opportunity to make connections between the initiative and the bigger picture of the work you’ll be doing moving forward. (I’ve provided some example debrief questions at the end.)

So start your planning by identifying a target and post it on a chart to refer to during the opening/framing, as well as the debrief. The target can be flexible for this initiative, but here was ours:


Since teachers/students will be rotating through three different “stations” for this initiative, you’ll want to have everyone number off and get themselves into groups. We have a pretty large staff so we had two of each station set-up, so the groups weren’t too big. Each group had 5 minutes at each station.

To set-up each station, post the station number next to the station task card. There are a few materials to prepare in advance, which you can check out using the task cards (printable and ready-to-go!) below.







Okay! Once everyone has rotated through each station, circle everyone up for a debrief.


Here are a few debrief questions you can throw out to the group:

  • What felt challenging?
  • How did you persevere or work through these challenges?
  • What connections can you make between this initiative and the work we’ll be doing today/this week/this quarter?

Now with this initiative complete, teachers will be ready to dig into any work planned with a refreshed mindset and a little extra oomph of energy.

I hope you’re able to use this at your next staff or classroom meeting!

If you have other great ideas for community building initiatives, please take a sec to share it in the comments below.

To fun times with initiatives,




P.S. If you liked this fun initiative post and want to help me spread the word by using the links below (or just shout it out on Twitter!), I would totally appreciate it!

P.P.S. Here are a few more fun initiatives!

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4 Responses to “A Fun Initiative for Staff and Students”

  1. mary beth grimm November 18, 2015 at 9:15 am #

    Can you tell me about the contraption that you use to stack the cups into a pyramid? I am interested in doing this with my new teachers at a meeting! Thanks! Love your blog!

    • Kristin Houser November 18, 2015 at 2:41 pm #

      Hi Mary Beth – It’s just rubber bands! You can tie them to a hair tie or just tie a rubber band end-end to form a “circle” then attached the other rubber bands to that piece. Good luck!

  2. Kristin January 6, 2016 at 7:12 am #

    Just wanted to let you know how much I appreciated this idea! I was leading the PD day when we returned from winter break this week, so the timing was PERFECT! Turning “activities” into “initiatives” was really powerful: it gave purpose along with getting them up and moving and ready to learn for the rest of the morning. THANK YOU! Will definitely be including more of these in future PDs!

    • Kristin Houser January 6, 2016 at 8:20 am #

      Awesome! That’s so great to hear. And if you come across any fun initiatives in the future, please share!

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