Escape, Invest and Breakout

Posted by Brenda Yoho

Does your family enjoy games? My younger grandchildren love games, and so do the adults! We do like playing games when we are all together. My sister-in-law loves Escape Rooms. She thinks these are the best things ever. We even did one while on vacation! They are fun when you have a great group to do it with. My theme for Christmas this year is Escape to Christmas-Unlock the Christmas Tree to discover your Christmas. It will be fun!

My other sister-in-law asked how I got started doing this. I told her after my youngest grandson turned two, I thought we were getting to the point where my Christmas time with them was going fast. Everyone tore open the gifts, and we were done. I wanted to hold on longer to Christmas. So I started creating a more meaningful way for our family to connect at Christmas. The games are questions about the family members. I was helping the kids get to know about the members of the family and investing in the family more than the material items we exchange. There is no need to breakout the piggy banks to buy lots of gifts, but to find the meaning in connecting more to those we love the most.

As I thought about Christmas, I also learned that my granddaughter did not want to break away from the tradition of how we did her birthday. Her birthday is on Christmas Eve, and I told her we would never change how we celebrated her birthday. She will be 15 this year. We always let the kids pick what kind of dinner they want us to fix for them. She has always wanted BBQ ribs cooked out on the grill. So, grandpa will be out there no matter what, cooking those ribs for his little girl. We celebrate her birthday on Christmas Eve and then move into our family Christmas celebration.

As leaders, we must consider what the words escape, invest, and breakout mean to our work family. It may have different meanings than how I described them in our family traditions.


The great “escape” of the workforce is happening as many people leave professions such as teaching and other educational positions. In addition, we see declines in other occupations as alarms of shortages are being reported. What is happening to cause these shortages in these much-needed areas?

Many blame the “burnout,” stress, and lack of respect for the positions. People are feeling the exhaustion from dealing with all of the negativity from both inside and outside of the job. It quickly turns cultures toxic with a lack of fast-acting responses.

What can be done to support turning this around? Provide all staff with opportunities to escape from stress and burnout, invest personally at all levels and see investments made in them and provide opportunities to break out of the norms and boxes to try different ideas.

Let them “escape” with time off and away from daily stressful situations. Usually, the same people take advantage of time away for professional development. Why not try to encourage a rotation with even a half day out to recharge batteries and reconnect?


Taking time to invest in others is essential. Just as in my holiday tree, when we take time to learn about each other, we invest time into relationships. Building relationships with recognition, so they know they are seen and heard and what they do matters daily. When you are working on building relationships, build time in the day to invest in celebrations as well.

When we can recognize the investments others are making which are making a difference, they can see, hear and feel the investment being made in them. Daily efforts of investment of words, noticing something they are doing, taking time to stop in to provide positive feedback, and providing them with resources they need to continue to do a fantastic job helps them know you are investing in their efforts.


In the workplace, you can find many little groups within a large group. We often try to break out into smaller groups and mix so others can get to know each other. It isn't easy to break out and away from those you feel comfortable with or to even join a group at all. Leaders need to work to help staff make connections and develop relationships.

When we can “break out” and explore other groups, we can grow and develop more. We want our staff to connect, create, grow and extend their ideas of trying different things so we can continue to create successful opportunities for everyone.

To boost connection and inspire more collaboration among your staff, work team-building activities into weekly meetings. Invite people to share something about themselves at lunch or in breakout groups. The “Artifact Bag” activity I have in my resources is a great activity to do to spotlight a staff member. Schedule opportunities for teachers to learn about what they have in common with others they might not already know or appreciate with the “Pop’in Back” game. People can place three items in a balloon; one topic everyone has the same, another which could be answered differently, and one unique to them. Pop a balloon and see who it belongs to.

"I only have 2 rules!"
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