We are almost a month into the new school year and I am feeling motivated by many things. I love the fresh start of the new year when everyone is rested and full of energy. We can forget about our mistakes of last year, re-celebrate the successes and plan for a fantastic year ahead.
The first day of school when the students come back fresh faced and loaded down with new school supplies. Smiles and hugs are shared. Even our middle-year’s students have to admit they are at least a little bit glad to be back with their classmates and friends. The fresh start allows so many to shine, while welcoming new students and adjusting to new teachers. One of the favorite things I do at the beginning of each year is read to every group of students in the school. I try to share my love of reading and choose my books to leave them with the message of working hard, not giving up and learning from our mistakes.
I have been lucky enough to spend the two days this month with our school division admin team listening and learning from Tom Hierck. His message is clear- do as many positive things as possible to build up every student in our schools to reach their potential. We do not give up on kids!
During these two days of learning and discussion we were able to think and share about all the ways we are being positive in our schools. I think our staff does a great job of trying to meet the needs of all of our students and look for ways of celebrating their individual talents and abilities. As I walk from classroom to classroom, I am amazed by the things I see happening on a daily basis. I know I am lucky to have such a dedicated, hardworking staff and our students benefit from that hard work. I am proud of each and every one of them and wonder if I can ask them to do even more than they already are.
Another part of Tom Hierck’s message was about the need for collective buy in to what we feel is important in our schools. It takes hard work to create and maintain positive attitude and culture every day. Are we doing everything we can to model those behaviors we would like to see in our students? Are we taking the time to build relationships that create safe and engaging environments? Are we reaching out to our parents in a positive way so they feel like they are an important and integral part of our learning team?
Last summer as I was reading and reflecting on the new school year I came across a post written about positive office referrals. I wish I had taken a better record of where the idea came from because I would like to thank the author of that post.
The principal who wrote the post was describing how much he enjoyed doing positive office referrals and how it had helped forge a positive relationship with students and parents. Basically the idea was simple, teachers and support staff refer any student down to the office for any positive reason. It might be academic, social, like being a good friend, helping out in the lunch room or in some cases something as simple as just getting to school on time.
Meeting students where they are, setting the bar high, but not too high and remembering one thing: building positive relationships are the most important thing we do to make a difference in a students emotional, social and academic growth.
Once the school year starts, it seems to move along at lightening speed. I hope we can slow down to catch those small moments where we can all make a positive difference in a students life, even those students who test us the most.