Think of your families and “take a walk in their shoes.” Notice what you see, hear, and feel and consider how welcome you feel. Invite your staff and colleagues on a virtual tour of the program’s space(s). Write down on a graffiti wall what you saw, heard, and felt as you walked through the program spaces. Take a few minutes to conduct a gallery walk and discuss themes, surprises, and any differences that came up for the team. Identify areas you would like to improve and strengthen. Celebrate successes and strategies that are working well.

Looking with another’s eyes

An environment that reflects the local community supports the development of a sense of belonging. When you can see yourself in a space, you feel connected.

With someone else’s eyes, you might see:

Listening with another’s ears

The sounds you hear have an impact on the overall program atmosphere and everyone’s experiences. As people enter your program and move around the space, what they hear will generate different feelings and reactions.

With someone else’s ears, you might hear:

Empathize with another’s feelings

The first feelings you have when you walk into a program will depend on how people begin to build relationships with you. These feelings may be affected by initial interactions or how relaxed the environment feels. As people move around the space, they may notice that different areas create different feelings: while some spaces are quiet and restful, other areas create a sense of fun, challenge, or adventure.

When you experience a program’s atmosphere, you might feel:

Being new is a sensory experience

Try using all your senses to imagine (or remember) what it is like to be new in the program! What do you see, hear, smell, touch, and taste? What sensory experiences do you want families to walk out remembering the most? This will help you to create a welcoming environment for your families.[1]

[1] Adapted from Teaching Strategies Y Chart and Children’s Aid Society, Dynamics of Supervision Managers Institute.

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