Early on the morning of February 28th, a "twitter challenge" caught my eye. It was from Leigh Ragsdale (@leighmragsdale), a principal in Missouri. This challenge struck a chord with me. It seemed like a valuable activity. When you are aware of a good idea, I've learned that it's good to go ahead and implement it if you are able. Don't wait! Don't procrastinate! So after I finished the morning announcements that day, I asked all our students to get out a sheet of paper, and write down the name of one adult that they trusted -- someone that they could talk to if they needed. I told them that if they could not think of one, they could write "nobody." I collected all the papers, and we began putting our data into a spreadsheet.
Out of about 500 students, we had 38 who wrote "nobody." That's 38 too many! We want every student to feel connected in our school, as I know you do in your school. We want every child to have an adult they feel comfortable talking to.
I made a slide show of the pictures of our students that wrote "nobody." We watched this slideshow at our faculty meeting last week. There were no names attached to any of the pictures, and we did not discuss who taught these students. (Our students, who are all in the 6th grade, have 7 or 8 different teachers, so everyone taught some of these students.) We viewed these pictures in complete silence. It was a sobering moment -- one that I will not soon forget. When it was over, I told our teachers, "It is my hope, that if we do this activity in a few months months, we won't have any students who write "nobody." That evening, our activity inspired the following tweet:
There were a number of people on Twitter who asked me what I was going to do with the data we generated. One person responded, "What are your next steps?" That left me feeling a bit convicted. Showing the pictures at the faculty meeting was a good activity, but it was not enough. The fact is, some of our kids don't feel sufficiently connected... and we don't want to just hope that they get connected. We don't want to leave it to chance. So... yesterday, I gave the list of these students to our counselor, and I then emailed our teachers, asking them to connect with her to "adopt" a student on the list. This isn't a formal process, but it reflects our faculty's commitment to ensuring that every student in our school has an adult advocate. We don't want any student falling through the cracks. That is our goal. Every kid is important. Every kid matters. And they need to feel it.