Yesterday’s post, “In their shoes” drew a number of comments. I enjoyed going through reading and “likeing” them all. There were some great observations from those that commented. Nobody defended the status quo so I guess that’s a message that we still have a ways to go. Thanks to everyone who took the time to comment.
The post did come from me with my tongue firmly between my teeth on a couple of items. The observation that there are typically 5 minutes between classes correctly identified that it’s often all taken up getting from one classroom to another in secondary schools. Heaven forbid that you might have to do something else. That time period could be extended by another 5 minutes easily to allow for nature or locker breaks and just a chance to stretch your legs. Sitting for a long period is indeed tiring. I wonder how many other changes could be easily made.
Then, I got an email from a principal, not a comment. Uh oh. The tone was a little different and she noted that rules are crucial to maintaining discipline and order within a school. Extending the five minutes would allow for more opportunity for students to do things unsupervised. Whatever happened to mutual respect? I’d suggest that you could even give it a try to see how students responded and if it had an impact on classroom performance if you had another five minutes to stretch your legs.
I was also informed that busing was the job of the administration and not of the school and it goes to the lowest bidder. That’s true so, unfortunately, we won’t be seeing any highway coaches on the road anytime soon!
There are things that can be addressed by the school and then there are things that are out of their hands. We all know that.
What of the things that can be addressed within the school?
I think back to an administration that I had early in my teaching career. I’ve mentioned a few times that I’m one of those “early to work” people. Yeah, I’m one of “them”.
But what surprised me, at the time, was that no matter what time I arrived at school, either the principal or vice-principal or both were already there. The caretakers opened the building at 6 and I’d be there 6:30-7:00 and there they were. As a new teacher, I just figured it was part of the job. The consistency of that impressed me so I just had to ask.
As is my approach, I made an appointment and typically started with a smart aleck remark. “Don’t you guys ever go home?” Their answer surprised me. For the record, yes they did.
However, it was their style and their decision that one of them would always be there before the teachers arrived.
Why? I still remember two of their answers and I thought that I’d follow their lead if I ever reached that position.
First, they wanted to make sure that there was an administrator in the house to address any early morning concerns from staff. They were there to make phone calls, take orders, or request caretaker assistance to make things right.
Secondly, they realized that there were times that a teacher left work frustrated with one thing or another. They wanted to be there to greet the teacher and ask if there was anything that they could do. The goal was to ensure that everyone started with a clear mind and no baggage from the previous day.
There may have been other reasons but those two still stick in my mind. Their simple action didn’t cost any money; to my knowledge, they never made their actions known. I only knew because I had taken the time to ask.
I wonder what other changes could be made for the betterment of students or staff that wouldn’t cost any money and just need some dedication to identify a situation and then address it.
What could you do to make things better at your school without costs involved?