Sitting here on a rainy Saturday morning, wondering where the school week went and finding myself thinking about and preparing for next week. This seems to be the flow of my weeks. As I reflect upon last week, I am mindful of the connections I have made to ensure that I am doing the best for our students, staff, and families in our school community. How do we connect?
Connecting with Kids
Being visible in the hallways, saying good morning and asking about their weekend, giving high-fives, smiling and acknowledging each child is the way that I connect with kids every day. Starting their day with a positive connection to an adult is so important.
Being outside during recess and lunch, walking around, chatting, taking pictures, pushing kids on the swings and problem solving in the moment, is especially powerful and makes for a happy playground and school community.
Just the other day I couldn’t help but notice an upset kindergarten student who was being comforted by his grade 5 reading buddy. I asked what was wrong and the little boy told me that his “slinky” somehow made it’s way up onto the roof of the gym. I reassured him that we would rescue it the next time one of our carpenters was in the building. That made him feel better.
Luckily, the next day, we had our carpenter in to complete a work order. I asked him if he wouldn’t mind going up onto the school roof to retrieve lost balls, toys, and most importantly, a purple slinky for a Kindergarten student. He retrieved many lost items. When I saw the slinky sitting on the office counter, I went to the Kindergarten classroom right away to find the student. When I told him that the carpenter had been to the school and showed him his lost slinky, the look on his face was amazing and his beaming smile was awesome!
The connection that occurred between both of us was powerful. In that moment he knew that adults keep promises and that I cared about his feelings of upset the day before. Some would think that it is just a “slinky”, a meaningless toy, but for those of us building relationships with kids, the little things may be the most powerful connections we make.
The story of the boy did not stop here. The carpenter from our district facilities office is always willing to go the extra mile for kids. He comes into the school with a positive outlook and is always working with me to make things better in our school. I took the time to write an email to his supervisors to share the story that you just read. I also cc’ed our Superintendents’ because I value the work being done in our schools by everyone to educate our children.
I received an email back from the carpenter’s supervisor thanking me for the kind words and a note about how they love to hear positive things about their staff and that they will share it out to everyone at their next meeting. The connection continues.
Communicating with our staff takes many forms in our school. I compose a Week at a Glance memo that outlines what is happening for the week and includes fieldtrips, speakers or visitors, assemblies, emergency drills, and when the principal is away from the school for meetings. Staff like the information and it helps me to organize my week as well.
Classroom visits are a daily occurrence and teachers and students welcome that connection. Sitting and chatting with individual staff members takes place at various times during the day whether it be before school, on recess duty, lunchtime, or after school. These are the relationship building pieces!
We connect with our families as often as we can and face to face or phone calls are my preference. We have a school Website that is updated each week and parents faithfully look there for information and dates of events. When the webpage is updated, an e-mail is sent to our school staff and families via School Connects which is an email program that can send mass emails. We simply send a short email saying that the website has been updated and to click on the link in the email to read about what is happening at our school during a particular week. The parents feel very informed and if other notices and announcements need to go out during the week, we use School Connects for that, too.
Our school has a Twitter account. We would like to include more student voice so will be trying to open that up to students in the near future. I love the idea that @TomMartellone uses at his school that allows students to Tweet about their school under the school hashtag and Twitter handle.
Being part of the #IMMOOC and now #SAVMP has introduced me to VOXER which I am loving. I am part of the VOXER #IMMOOC book chat, have read all the posts and listen to the Voxer messages that have been sent during the month of October and into November. The sharing that occurs in this group is incredible!
I am happy to say that I have been using VOXER to connect with my mentor @jkloczko in the #SAVMP and am loving this experience so far. I am feeling comfortable using this and can see the benefits of growth and for connections to other educators! I am excited to share this with my own principal colleagues, too.
What other ways are you connecting with your school community? I would love to hear some of your innovative ideas.