Significant 72 – Part 3

72 Seconds Each Day That Really Make a Difference

Interesting Ideas

For the past three weeks I have been blogging about Significant 72. Check out previous posts below if you want the full story.  I also encourage you to visit the Significant 72 website at to read more from author Greg Wolcott.

The third aspect of Significant 72 refers to 72 seconds each day.  Make a difference for a child in 72 seconds.  What are the actions that EVERY adult in the school can do for 72 seconds each day that will profoundly impact the lives of students?  

Positive interactions lastly approximately 72 seconds, done consistently, day after day have a huge impact on the mental health, well being and sense of connection our students have to our schools.  Every child needs to know, ‘I see you’.

Many schools have programs where staff will identify students that would benefit from a caring adult taking an interest and connecting with them each day.  Some of these programs are called SOS (Save One Student), Playground Buddies, Teacher’s Little Helpers etc and these are all great.  These programs that focus on connecting with students are valuable additions to the initiatives we have in our school to “love up” our students, especially those students that need that extra bit of loving.  However, all of our students need to feel connected to the school.  Remember that in our School Effectiveness Plan we want 100% of our students to answer in the school survey that they feel they belong and are safe and comfortable in the school.  It is not good enough to target ‘some of our students’.  Significant 72 is good for all, essential for many.

And this is not the work of one adult, or a few adults, it takes all of us. We all know staff that try to do it all on their own.  Have you ever had to have a conversation with a staff member providing guidance about looking after their own health and well being because they are trying to do too much for students and their families?  Significant 72 needs to be adopted school wide.

Significant 72 works so much better when we have a team approach.  In order to support the needs in our community it is going to take our entire staff, and the benefit to the staff cannot be understated.  Our plan done consistently by everyone, creates and sustains our common understanding that we are a talented team.  When we see others doing it, staff jump on board.  It is wonderful to work in an environment where you are surrounded by others that care deeply about the children in the school.  We know we have a good thing going when we hear staff comment that they would want their own children in the school in order to be taught and cared for by the adults.

Yet, we all know of stories where it only takes one adult to make a world of difference.  If every child has an advocate in the school, their chances of success are so much greater. So every adult is asked to give students Significant 72 (seconds) each day.

Significant 72 done each day, by each adult can be a difference maker in your school.  It is simply a matter of changing our view of interactions with students.  We want every interaction with students in the hallways, outside on our fields and entering our school and coming into our classrooms to be a positive one.  We are glad to see you! We are so happy you are with us!  Today is going to be a wonderful day.

Significant 72 can be the 72 seconds in the classroom where students are doing engaging activities, revisiting some get to know you activities and finding out more about their classmates and their teachers.  At our school we extended the concept of 72 seconds to mean the interactions between staff and students in all other parts of the school.

Think about the times you have interacted with someone in retail or hospitality and they have provided exceptional service.  I am guessing your positive feelings about it are connected to how they made you feel, how interested they were in assisting you or simply being in a cheerful mood.  Positive comments are spoken here! We had posters with this comment inside our common staff areas reminding everyone the importance of our interactions with each other and with students and families.

We asked every adult in our school building to make sure they had multiple Significant 72 moments with students in a day.  It is a guarantee that the adults boosted their well being and sense of purpose each time as well.  They may have thought they were doing it for the students, when in fact Significant 72 has a definite beneficial impact on both the giver and the receiver.  The overall school climate feels different when staff commit to speaking and interacting with students in this way.  And this school feel or atmosphere is what keeps your adults coming back, they want to work in a positive building. 

When staff see the school as having a positive culture they will join in and do all that they can to maintain and participate in that culture.  Staff that are feeling a bit like Eeyore, don’t stand a chance surrounded by Tiggers!  Significant 72 is contagious. It was not uncommon for visitors to our school to comment about the ‘feel’, the ‘vibe’ and the creation of this was not left to chance.  It was the dedicated adoption of Significant 72.

We ask the adults to engage with students and really listen.  It could be the most important 72 seconds in that child’s day.  Those 72 seconds with you could be the best part of the day for that student.

Do the interactions always last 72 seconds?  No, but the rationale behind it is what is most important.  Our students get the best from us each and every day.  Starting the day, coming back from a break, there is not a happier place to be then moving through the hallways and into our classrooms.

When our staff are outside, at the buses, or on the field in supervision we can all sense the child that needs some comfort.  The child may be ‘walking the fences’ not engaged in play or simply off on their own.  Staff were asked to move around their area and engage with the child.  Ask questions, be curious, engage in conversations.  For 72 seconds give this child the best of yourself

Last week I shared the three actions that were part of our School Effectiveness Plan in the area of safety, well being, community and culture.


  • Significant 72 – first 72 hours, 72 minutes each month as community circles, 72 seconds each day
  • Community Circles done in every homeroom
  • Outside/Hallway Welcome (P1, P3, P5) and Doorway greetings (P2, P4, P6)

These three strategies really are Significant 72 written in a different way.  Strategy number two is 72 minutes a month and strategy three is 72 seconds a day.

This third strategy is Significant 72 for 72 seconds.  All the staff that have a class are asked to be outside or in the hallway when the bell rings and instructional time begins.  We no longer have transition time built into the schedule, so when the bell rings it is ‘classtime’.  

Teachers are with students when the bell rings, so teachers go outside to greet their class, or they are in the hallways as students enter.  Everyone not on preparation time, is ‘on’.  As a team you could have one teacher go outside to assist with entry, but the rest of the team is on the stairs, in the hallway.  They are present and they are visual.  No staff member is on their own in the classroom once the bell rings.  It is the start of instructional time so everyone is involved in Significant 72 and making the children feel warm, welcomed and safe. Everyone is Significant 72 committed!

We don’t have a lot of movement during the day, but if a class is moving during periods 2,4 or 6, teachers are in the hallway/door frame of their classroom and welcoming students to their room.  By being in the threshold of their doorway they can see out into the hallway and into the classroom.  And best of all, they can smile, say hello and welcome each child that enters that room to let them know they are glad to see them (high five, fist pumps etc)

How do you like to begin your day?  We all have routines.  Imagine the routine for a child entering a classroom of an educator that is over the top excited that they are spending the day with them. What is it that you need to get your day started and how can I show you I am glad you are here and part of our classroom community?  See the two posters below, second one used during Covid restrictions.

I’ll finish my Significant 72 piece with my favourite example of how all this hard work has its benefits and solidified for me the power of Significant 72.  Walking outside during a recess break I came across Fatima, a lovely grade one student off on her own not engaged with others in her class.  Wanting to walk the talk and show any of the staff outside what we mean by Significant 72 and being with students as we supervise I struck up a conversation. 

With her mask on and her piercing blue eyes looking deeply up at me I heard her say, ‘Mr. Marshall, can I tell you something?’ 

I took the bait and said, ‘Absolutely’. 

‘Mr. Marshall, you remind me of home’. 

There it was, the moment!  In my final year, after continually emphasizing relationships, relationships, relationships I had one of our youngest students prove to me the work was all worth it.  She was ‘home’. 

I was so touched and thanked her for her beautiful comment.  Being an educator I ‘double clicked’ in order to go deeper and asked, ‘Why do you feel it is like home’. 

And then a lovely voice from beneath the mask replied, ‘You kind of remind me of my grandpa’.


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