By Michelle Mallonee Long

In a previous article “WYSIWYG” I shared the story of “The Trouble Tree” – Author unknown; and suggested using Shel Silverstein’s “The Giving Tree” as a starting point for a staff motivational series with a tree as the theme. I thought it may be a good idea to extend the topic.

You may be wondering how a tree can be used for staff development/staff motivation. Trees have many meanings including strength, life, prosperity. There are also different meanings for different trees. For example, a birch tree stands for new beginnings; the willow tree stands for imagination, intuition and vision; the oak stands for strength, power, courage, stability and nobility; the apple tree stands for beauty, love and generosity.

Think of how the symbolism can tie into your staff meetings. Like using the birch tree (new beginnings) when there is a shift in leadership or the opening of a new location; using the willow tree (imagination, vision) when discussing the creativity of lesson planning or the future goals of the organization. Use the strength and courage of the oak tree when dealing with change.
“Change – Temperatures will rise and fall. Winds will shift in speed and direction. Leaves will drop and buds will form. But the strength of your character and commitment to excellence should never waiver.” – unknown

There are numerous quotes about trees that can be posted in a staff lounge to inspire the teachers. A few of my favorites include:
“A tree with strong roots laughs at storms.” – Malay Proverb
“Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we keep thinking of; but the tree is the real thing.” – Abraham Lincoln
“Someone is sitting in the shade today, because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” – Warren Buffet

You can also use a tree (branch, paper, be creative) for teachers or parents to leave words of kindness and gratitude for one another. Take this concept beyond the teachers and use it in the preschool and school age classrooms as well.

For more examples of the symbolism of trees check out:
Tree Logos – Know the Meaning of Different Trees and Make Your Design More Effective
The Secret Meaning Behind 11 Common Trees

For information on kindness/gratitude trees check out:
48 Kindness Trees to Nurture Friendship and Character Traits
The Gratitude Tree for Kids

Additional Reading:
The Strength of a Leader Comes from the Tree Trunk, Dan Pontefract

Tags : Inspirestaff developmentStaff meetingsStaff moraleStaff motivationSymbolismTree

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