Upon arriving at the school in January, I began to just listen and watch. I was looking for how they did business here. I was looking for specific things such as:
- Was there a specific way students were expected to move around the building?
- Did students know what those expectations were and were they following them?
- How were students arriving in the morning, was there a clear path of parent drop-off and buses?
- Were students beginning their day quickly and calmly?
- Were teachers greeting students at their doors?
- How many students were coming in late each day?
- What was dismissal like?
What I found was that the systems they had were not working well, but because of the constant chaos in the building no one really noticed.
A simple first step was to spread students over more space to help keep it quieter and calmer in the morning. They had been using the main hallways to house all students until they entered their classrooms at 8:45 a.m.. So, I just spread them out throughout the building and began sitting them by their class instead of grade level so that there were fewer students in a small area. This helps to keep the students calmer and consequently when handed over to their teachers for class, they are not as wound up and more ready to learn.
My mantra has become, "Divide and Conquer." Because of the volatility of our students when they are in large groups, it becomes chaos very quickly. We must in all things make sure that what we do is in manageable pieces and that it makes sense to all stakeholders. Many times change is hard for people even if they want or need it. When in the game it is hard to see what exactly is causing the issue so sometimes even after explaining the only way to get buy in is to show them it is better with a new system in place.Each time we have implemented a systems change this year, I have tried to be as transparent as possible and given everyone enough notice that it will not be a surprise when it happens.
|Adding the cones created a clear path for traffic|
|Front view of the tables, we fill the one side of the table so everyone is facing forward|
|Side view with area on the right where classes line up in front of cones on the lines for teachers|
What I have found is that nothing comes naturally here. Everything is like a second language and must be thought through before action can happen. Very few do anything naturally, so my goal is to make it so that everyone feels safe enough to make decisions and suggestions to better enhance our environment. If people do not feel safe they will not step out and make suggestions or take chances and I want them doing both. So, until such time I will keep praising what I see that I want repeated, address what needs to be shaped, and continue to do what is best for kids.