Friday, November 1, 2013

Building a community of learners

This week in my school school district I saw one principal doing this:
I saw another principal doing this:
I saw a whole staff doing this:
You might ask why?

Mr. Ascher, the man in the trash can, was participating in his school's Halloween Parade. Mr. Brickey, the Michigan Wolverine, was cooking hamburgers and hot dogs for his staff to celebrate the Michigan-Michigan State football game. The Village Oaks staff was dressed up for Halloween in their bootcamp theme.

You might ask is this the most important thing a principal or a staff can do?

I would say yes - with a caveat.

Students learn best in schools where they have a connection. Connections are created when we, the adults in the building, communicate that they care. These staff members went out of their way to communicate to the students in their building that they care. This fosters relationships, which in turn can foster an environment for learning.

If this was the only thing that happened in these schools I would be upset. But it is not. I have walked the hallways and sat in the classrooms in these buildings. I see students who are engaged. I see teachers and administrators who set high expectations. The message is clearly sent that our schools are places where students learn.

But the foundation for these students is built upon the quality relationships that are built when principals dress up as trash cans and when principals cook lunch for their staff and when staff show their students a different side of their personality. These acts help to build relationships.

And relationships matter in education.

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