Ed, the Superstar!

Interesting Idea

As the leader in your school do you know everyone’s name?  Do they all know you?  We have all experienced that frightening feeling when you are out and someone comes up to you (in my case, very much younger) and says, “Do you remember me? You were my teacher/principal.”

Who is the most popular at your school?  Is there anyone that you could say without doubt that every child, every staff member and even most of the parents know by name?

In our case, it was Ed!

Ed !

When I was tweeting the 30 Things I Will Miss About Being a Principal I placed Ed at #10 on my list of things I will miss when retired.  Ed made my top ten!  

That particular tweet generated quite a few responses from staff at the school.

From someone who had moved onto another school, ‘I miss Ed’.

Another knew Ed from a previous school and tweeted, “I had ‘Ed duty’ at EFT, carried him outside with me every Friday for a year…all the while thinking he was a turtle.”

Another shared how, “Ed works so hard to make a difference for the community at Boyne that he often deserves some much needed R&R and extra special vacation time” with a photograph of Ed in a store surrounded by wine and 5 staff members on a Friday night on their way to a weekend retreat.

And the simple, ‘I love Ed’ or ‘Ed is the best!’

So who is Ed?  

Ed was the universal name given to six different large plastic ‘people’.

Ed was a gift from the photography company we had a contract with, Edge Imaging.  ‘Ed’ was used as a visual symbol every day to signal where we could safely and comfortably be playing when outside during breaks and recess time.

If Ed was on a field, you could go on that field.  Ed was the first to go on the field to show everyone that it was okay to join him.  No Ed on the field, meant that field was ‘out of bounds’ for the break time.

This was all done originally to protect instructional time.  I had been in too many schools as a staff member and as an administrator where the public address system was being used to tell staff and students that the fields were closed.  Or that bad weather would mean we would have to stay off the grassy areas.  We could only use the pavement areas of the school.  

And you know when this announcement is made, right?  It is broadcast with a few minutes to go in class, just as staff are working hard to get instructions completed, or assessments done because we were about to go on a break. The entire school interrupted, learning stopped, so we could announce our areas of play outside.

Right now, count the number of interruptions that someone using your PA system makes during instructional time in any given week.  Our school was going to be different. We were not going to interrupt important instructional time with an announcement that could be provided in another way.  Ed was our way of sharing that information.

When we first opened the school, we had our Eds ready to go but didn’t use them right away.  Our fields were closed when we first opened, and large construction fences blocked entry to the grassy areas.  Since we could not use the fields and were restricted to the pavement, this was the perfect time to get our expectations in place prior to the fields being available to us.

Each day we would take a photograph of ‘Ed’ somewhere inside the school.  Since it was a brand new school we would ask students on the morning announcements ‘Where’s Ed?’  And they would have to work with our staff to figure out where Ed was hiding based on the clues in the picture.  We also placed a few ‘Ed’s’ around the school so students would see exactly what Ed looked like up close and personal. 

Ed Hiding By the Water Fountain

Another way we protected instructional time was in regards to announcements.  All the announcements were created on a shared document that every staff member could access and view with their classes when they wished to do so.  We did not start the day with announcements over the loud speaker, which often contained news of the day that was not applicable to many of the ages and grades in our school.  Each individual classroom was responsible for how and when they would share announcements. More on how we did announcements can be found in this previous blog.

After a couple of weeks playing  ‘Where’s Ed’ we had an assembly to announce that the fences were coming down and we could use the field.  An Ed was in the assembly tucked in the corner and I asked from the front of the assembled mass of students, ’Where’s Ed?’  By this point Ed had become a Rockstar. Hundreds of students yelled out as they pointed to Ed standing guard in the corner.  Ed was moved to front and centre and we explained who Ed was, what Ed’s job was for our school and that students need to continue to look for Ed each and every day at school.  But from now on Ed was going to live outside.

Some of the creative writing that took place was out of this world.  Ed at Night.  Ed on the Weekend.  Ed During Holidays.

Ed did have an adventurous life.  Staff felt that it would be hilarious to continue the Where is Ed as an adults only game.  Remember we had about 6 of them.  Ed would be taken on weekends and holiday trips, photographed having all kinds of fun (better weekends than most of mine!) And the pictures would make their way around the staff portals on the following Monday.  Lucky Ed!  You know your staff are buying in and loving the culture that is being developed when they continue a school tradition in this way.  All done in good taste and continuing to build our staff morale.

Ed Playing in the Snow with Students

Each day, right before break time, because weather can change in Canada from first thing in the morning until the timing of our first recess, one of the admin would go out and place Ed on the fields that were accessible that break.  Students went outside and saw where they could go.  Class learning time was not interrupted.  Staff outside on supervision also knew and could reinforce with students where they could play based on the presence of Ed.  Staff would even look out the window and see Ed on the field meaning we were going outside.  No more calls down to the office to find out if we were going outside or staying inside.  “We always go outside, unless you hear different.”

Ed was so popular we knew we had to find a way to include Ed in the official school opening.  During our large official school opening ceremony with politicians, education leaders, architects and builders in attendance Ed was involved as well.  At the time of the official ribbon cutting and the official photo opportunity, Ed was there!   Two Ed’s held the ribbon that was being cut by our dignitaries.  

Official Ribbon Cutting With ED!

Every child got a piece of the official school opening ribbon.  We bought lots of extra ribbon and had it cut into small squares.  Every child received this keepsake.  I still have mine.  

And I made sure that my piece was from the section held by our two Ed’s.

Ed was also a popular Halloween costume!

Ed as Costumes

There’s the Interesting Idea!  How can you preserve instructional time by preventing interruptions?  How can you share important information in a visual format so staff and students know what should be happening?  Find flags, find numbers or symbols.  Find Eds if you are able, but find a way to honour instructional time.  Stop interrupting learning.

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