Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Checking the Pulse


Like many mornings to start my day at school, I was roaming the halls before the first bell interacting with students and teachers alike.  Lockers opening and closing, teachers chatting across the halls over the tops of students heads and kids waking up slowly, teachers the same. Each person I interacted with turned on the "switch" as my greeting of good morning hit their ears.

I moved from the hallways into the classrooms, I engaged in conversation with a handful of different students and their teachers to get a pulse of the day. It was rewarding to hear upbeat responses that contained alertness and readiness. Students and teachers were revved and ready to go for the day ahead.

As you go through your daily routine, make sure to take minute and check the pulse of your building. Follow a few simple steps to ensure your building and your classroom are beating at a healthy rate.
  • Be visible - get into classrooms everyday. Doesn't matter if it is to start the day, or end it. Make sure your students see you as part of the instructional process by being engaged in their teachers work.  Walkthroughs count but so does the informal drop-in.
  • Reach out to your teachers, reach out to your students. Find a connection with your colleagues and/or a certain student(s) and acknowledge their efforts. Share with them something you appreciate that they have brought to your building or your classroom.  Send a note. It's worth it.
  • Acknowledge something that is a concern, needs to be better or that needs addressed. Let's face it, no matter how good we are at our jobs, administrators or teachers, there is always something, big or small, that needs improved.  Own it, work on it, improve it.
  • Agree to get better. Whether through listening, interacting, instructing or advising, know that as an academic institution staying stagnant is not an option. We must work collectively and collaboratively to identify our deficiencies and seek out solutions for improvement.

When it comes to connecting with students, George Couros offers his own perspective. He posted 6 Ways Principals Can Connect With Students after he heard this from his niece:

My 8 year old girl when asked what a Principal does, “It’s that person that talks to you when you’ve done something bad.” #cpchat
—Alec Couros (@courosa) August 25, 2012
George suggests the following as part of your regular practice as a building administrator:
1. Welcome the kids when they arrive.  Wave goodbye when they leave.
2. Your first interaction with a student should be a positive one.
3. Talk as little as possible.
4. Use humor to deal with situations any chance you can.
5. Do the walk.  - Every day when I was in school, I would purposely get up and be present in every single classroom.
6. Kids will love you if they know you love them.

The entire article can be found at: http://georgecouros.ca/blog/archives/3220

When you make your rounds during the morning and throughout the year, make sure you keep checking that pulse and ensure it is beating better than ever. Establish your own set of expectations for yourself and your teachers and teachers for your students.  

Whether the instructional leader of a classroom or the instructional leader of the building, take the time to connect, interact and demonstrate your investment to the students and staff.