Every Friday, the students have an early-release day, and we spend the afternoon in Professional Development. One of the things we do as a staff, (and also with our advisory class) is Connections. We sit in a circle and once Connections is "Open," one person is allowed to speak at a time, and share whatever is on their mind, school-related or not. There is no response. Once they are done, someone else can then share whatever is on their mind. After a few minutes, usually about 10, Connections is "Closed" and we continue on to whatever was planned for the day.
It can feel a bit awkward, especially when no one is talking, and we're all sitting in silence (you know how people are afraid of silence!) It can also be rough when you want to respond to someone's thoughts, and even more when you want a response to what you've shared.
But I think it's a great activity. The title is appropriate; I think it has a way of connecting us. It provides each person an opportunity to share something they might not have otherwise shared. It allows us as a group to value each person individually, and allows each person to feel a part of the group.
Some things that have been shared are: "I'm getting married!" "I made a poor choice during an interaction with a student today" "I had to miss the first week of school because of a family emergency, here's what happened..."
I really like Connections, because I like hearing what is happening in my co-worker's lives, as I get to know them, and build my relationships with them. I also like it because I know it's going to challenge me to share. Share what's in my classroom and my life.