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.