Temple Independent School District Superintendent Bobby Ott said his district is highlighting creativity as educators continue to navigate the “new norm” that is COVID-19.
“But they’re wondering how long this is going to be temporary, and sometimes that can wear on the mind,” he said during a podcast interview with Education Elements’ CEO Anthony Kim,
Ott went into depth about how social media can be a helpful tool when cultivating creativity, how Temple ISD is a “safe place” to take risks and the importance of self-care among staff.
“I think that we have really set up an organization where we are known to be a risk-taking environment,” Ott said. “You are safe to be creative and authentic, and take risks. Whenever you take those risks, you have to demonstrate as administrators … that you don’t penalize people for those things.”
Ott believes his district has absolutely met an expectation of innovation.
“We are trying to come up with as many creative ideas as possible … Encourage people to (be creative), procure partnerships that allow community and celebrate those things to really try and make this a positive momentum.”
Kim explored Ott’s Twitter engagement, asking how making “regular deposits and showcasing the creativity” in Temple ISD can impact the culture of a district.
“I feel like the two things that are probably most important are connectivity and hope,” Ott said. “And I think when you do things like that through social media, it sends those messages loud and clear.”
But Ott also discussed how it also is important to discuss coping strategies with staff throughout all the bright ideas they may have, citing a program called Rejuvenate — a retreat for staff that Baylor Scott & White Dr. Andrejs Avots-Avotins brought to the district.
The program was designed to help educators and physicians step away from their normal activities and relax.
“I’m not always OK even though I act like it. I’m masking stuff a lot of times,” he said. “I think as a leader you owe it to yourself to be very honest and sincere to your folks … And I think they feel safe doing that with physicians.”
Ott said the program has benefited his district greatly since its implementation, noting a 7 percent increase in the teacher retention rate.
TO LEARN MORE
Temple ISD Superintendent Bobby Ott’s full interview can be watched on YouTube at https://bit.ly/314KE4m.