School bags are unique. They come in different shapes, sizes, colors and materials. Some you carry using handles and others using shoulder straps. Maybe you are a backpack person or like the traditional leather briefcase. Whatever you choose needs to work for you. My first briefcase was a gift that was given to me by my mom when I first started teaching. It was a soft, burgundy-coloured leather bag with a handle and shoulder strap. I loved that bag! I liked the way the bag looked, the smell of the leather and the comfort of wearing it on my shoulder. The bag has been replaced a few times and the one I have now is not leather but it does the job!
Over the years, my school bag has served many purposes. It has been a portable file cabinet, report card bag, laptop case and carry-all! Maybe your school bag is your “tool box” or your “repertoire of resources” or your “tool chest”. Whatever we choose to call it, I have found that there are some things that are always an essential part of the school bag.
The Essentials Of My School Bag…
Whether you use a laptop, Chromebook, iPad or some other mobile device, it seems we are all connected. These are our modern day file cabinets, file folders, lesson plans or units and, for some of us, our journals. Along with mobile devices come dongles. You know the gadgets that allow your laptop to connect to Ethernet, the gadgets that allow your iPad or phone to connect to a projector if you happen to forget your Apple TV or Chromecast that day. As leaders in our buildings, we are out and about in classrooms so mobile devices and wireless connectivity is a necessity.
I like the physical act of writing so I carry in my bag a paper journal. I have always used one since becoming a vice principal and principal. For me, this is where my daily to-do lists are laid out in an orderly fashion. It is also where I keep notes about anything that happened during the day; students I have spoken to in the office, ideas that have sparked my interest in classrooms as well as things that need repairing throughout the school building. It is the place where I write my thoughts about how the day has gone and what needs to be done tomorrow. And it is always completed using a black, or preferably purple, uni-ball vision fine pen.
Just as I like a paper journal, I depend on my day planner to organize my appointments and meetings as well as important days. I also keep these dates in my phone and on a large calendar in my office. We all know our jobs can be quite busy so the more organized we are, the less we will forget to overlook. Having the dates in three places happens to be a necessity for me.
Thank You Cards
I carry thank you cards in my school bag. Thank you cards are my way of spreading kindness and showing appreciation to others for the contributions they are making to our school. I have given cards with personalized messages after I have gone into classrooms or when I have read with students. I have left cards in mailboxes, on staffroom tables and have hand delivered many over the years.
One year after reading Lead Like a Pirate, written by Shelley Burgess and Beth Houf I decided to create my own version of an Anchor of Appreciation. In their book they describe the Critical Components of Anchors of Appreciation.
- Share something the teacher did that you appreciated. Pick something specific and label it.
- Tell them specifically why you appreciated it.
- Link the “why” to best practices, school goal, and/or student learning.
- Smile and use an enthusiastic tone, upbeat word choices, and positive body language.
- Say “Thank you!” Thanking people for the work they do is important, and we simply can’t do it often enough! (pps. 151-152 Lead Like a Pirate)
Number 5 is the model for the Anchors of Appreciation. Shelley and Beth refer to the thanking people piece as “…dropping ANCHORS of Appreciation.” They challenge each of us to, “Be intentional and take thirty minutes a day to just drop these anchors of appreciation throughout the school.” This practice is powerful and models the act of kindness and appreciation; something we need to do more of each day in our schools.
This upcoming school year, I will once again, carry in my school bag anchors of appreciation. They will be the new and improved 2019/2020 model. I will take up the challenge to carve 30 minutes out of my day to spread kindness and appreciation to the awesome people with whom I am so fortunate to work.
Is there something special that you carry or consider essential to your day? I would love to hear about the treasures that can be found in your school bag!