As part of our year-round onboarding program for colleagues that are new to Moravian, we held a social gathering at Dave & Busters Monday afternoon. We gave everyone game cards and divided into teams with several objectives:
Connect with your inner 8-year-old! Play! Have fun! We are a school. Our mission is to inspire young people to reach their full potential. In order to do that, it helps to try to remember what it was like to be 8 years old.
Catch your colleagues having fun! I encouraged them to take photos!
Get to know someone you don’t know that well. The work of schools is all about relationships. When we have fun together, we build stronger bonds that lead to more trust.
I recently read the book All Work No Play by Dale Sidebottom. Sidebottom makes the case that play is not just for kids, it’s important for adults too! It helps us develop stronger bonds with others. We smile. We laugh. And we loosen up a bit. That was certainly true at our new colleague gathering. Some of us didn’t know each other very well, but because we were matched up with team members from other campuses or departments, we made new connections. I personally enjoyed a virtual car race with Merle-Smith Learning Specialist, Erica Coverley. I watched other colleagues play a variety of games. But my favorite of the evening was watching Associate Head of School, Dr. Armistead Webster, and Rosemary Ackerman, Assistant Kindergarten Teacher on the Downtown Campus, go head to head on Dance-Dance-Revolution!
Play is an important part of the lives of children. It is how they learn about the world and themselves. Research has proven that it is key to positive mental health. It improves creativity and problem-solving abilities. The old adage “laughter is the best medicine” really is true. It reduces stress. It enhances bonds with others. And research from the University of Maryland Medical Center indicates that laughter has an anti-inflammatory effect that provides some protection from cardiovascular disease.
There’s no question that academic excellence is serious business at Moravian Academy. That being said, it’s important to recognize that play is an important ingredient for us to be our best selves. Both for the children AND the adults.