Saturday, December 15, 2018

Will You Check On Me?




When a former colleague of mine, Joe Turner, was named "Teacher of the Year," a reporter asked him for his advice to new teachers.  He responded:

       "Teach every child like you're their lifeline... like you're their last chance to succeed."

When I read this, it shook me to my core.  I shared it with our leadership team and it inspired an initiative at our school that we simply call "Lifelines."  This is not a formal program; it is not structured; and there is no paperwork. We simply ask our staff members to be a lifeline to 1 or 2 students who would benefit from an adult in their corner.  As a faculty, we commit to going above and beyond to care about these students.

Not too long ago, our counselor gave me my three "lifelines."  One of the challenges for me with this project, is that I don't teach these students.  I may not even see them every day.  The hallways are crowded, so class changes aren't always great opportunities to have conversations with students.  And it can sometimes be awkward calling kids into the office just to check on them.

But a couple weeks ago, I had an idea -- a new strategy for making regular connections with my 3 students.  I called "Caleb" down to the office, and I said, "Caleb... will you do me a favor?" He smiled and nodded, "yes."  I continued, "I usually have good days, but not always.  Everyone can benefit from others checking on them.  Will you do me a favor and check on me every day, just to make sure I'm doing alright."  He smiled again and said "ok."  I documented this process on Twitter.



I had this conversation with two other students, and the results have absolutely fired me up.  These three students are making regular eye contact with me in the halls, they are smiling at me, and they are asking me about my day.  This gives me a regular opportunity to connect with them, and it is teaching them to think about the well being of someone besides themselves.  As the year progresses, I hope to have longer and more substantive conversations with these students, but for right now, I'm  stoked that these guys are connecting with me everyday.  I love that we have three students who are now checking on their principal!
 

7 comments:

  1. I just passed this on to some of our office people who also feel a little disconnected from kids now that they aren't in the classroom every day like they used to be.

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  2. Danny, I love this idea!! Our staff, too, is committed to making sure each student has at least 1 "go to" adult in the building. I have a few students that I check in on periodically and some daily, but I'm also going to add this to my leadership toolbox. Thank you for sharing this!

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  3. That's awesome, Jennifer! This strategy has been a game changer for the interactions between me and these three students. Thanks for reading and sharing!

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  4. Love your blog, we totally need the inspiration this time of year!

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