An easy to do item sat on my to do list for about two weeks. It was something new to try, it was unknown. How would it be received? How would I find the time to talk to everyone involved?
"Get Out of DUTY Free Cards"- that what was written there for two weeks.
Making the cards was easy, passing them out was fun! It also gave me a chance to check in with each of the 19 Class Assistants, whom I supervise. So, why did I wait so long?
It comes down to trying something new, leaving the status quo behind. This little gesture of taking a duty for each of the Class Assistants made a big impact. One of the Class Assistants said, "Is it Christmas again?" Another said, "Really, you are going to do my duty?" Another said, "Thank you, I need this!" The reactions were priceless and gave us a moment to smile together, to connect.
The Class Assistants have a lot of supervision duties, beyond their classroom responsibilities. They often feel unheard and underappreciated. I wanted to reach out in a small way to say thank you. When the Class Assistants "cash in" their cards, it will also give me a great excuse to walk in their shoes for 60 minutes. See supervision from their angle, allowing me to listen with different ears and see with different eyes.
The first card was "cashed in" to take a duty to give someone a break they really needed to regroup and get organized. This break for them was the busy most high impact learning situation I have been in in quite some time. I shadowed to a student for an hour during Portuguese class, a language that I do not speak. This child taught me a lot...he reverted to behaviors that are not seen as frequently any more. But I was ready because I had his behavior chart and reward in hand for when he showed the good behaviors. Well, the behavior chart was ripped in two before we could even review the first goal, one minute later an eraser was in his mouth, shoes and socks were sneakily taken off under the desk and for the grand finale he went running down the hallway. Wow...action packed hour (which I must record that I was wearing heels, already out stepping out of my comfort zone, making the sprint even more challenging for me)! There were sweet and tender moments intertwined throughout the unexpected ones...the child turned off the lights for the class as he was asked to do, sat with me to watch a short video and whispered "I love you" while rubbing my arm, and the child passed out erasers to all the other children so nicely. There were moments that were great!
The final moment came when a colleague walked by and asked if I needed help shortly after my sprint, in heels. I calmly accepted and we all sat together in the hallway for a moment trying to help the child understand why he needs to wear shoes at school. The child took the teacher's name tag and the child proclaimed, "I am Miss K!" That was where we were able to break through and get an in with reason. "OK! Teachers wear shoes and have to be with the students," we said. The child understood, got his socks and shoes on and walked to the assembly with the others. WOW again! He then danced and sang to his favorite song as the year three students presented their learning to the tune of "Don't Let me Down." The day ended with a high five and fist bump.
So, in conclusion, I have a lot to learn and was thankful for the opportunity of the staff member cashing in their Get Out of DUTY Free Card. Why did I wait two weeks to cross it off my list? I wonder what learning the other 18 cards have in store for me?!?!
As I concider being a principal one day, I have thought about how to pull a team together to create a strong positive school culture.
The traditional model of schooling continues to prove change is needed in today's world, but how do we get teacher's excited to embrace the changes? Through positive relationships school leaders can set the tone that is ready for change and teachers step up to the challenge. No matter how big or small the changes are, leaders need postive relationships to make them happen.
The behaviors of the teachers and the principal matter. When I become principal one day, I aspire to make the image I have for teachers and myself clear. When the points outlined below are practiced the team can trust eachother building a postive school culture.
Principal’s image of the teachers:
Please leave a comment if you agree, disagree or would like to edit the lists above. Being open to feedback and constructive critisims is part of the leadership gig that I have signed up for!
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