How students start the day doesn’t have to be.
Mornings are hard.
How can you make coming to school comforting and predictable for students?
For each of us we know how difficult mornings can be. Not only getting ourselves ready but others in your life. Your morning routine is probably set (same time waking, same routine) before heading out the door.
Even the smallest things can set us off our preferred path. Now imagine coming from a home where the morning routine is impacted by upset or trauma? Our senior students may have the responsibility for younger siblings and just getting everyone ready, dressed, and fed can be a challenge.
When leaving the potential chaos or mild upset at their home, what is their reception like at your school?
When students arrive at school we want to welcome them. We want them to know they have come to a safe place. School is a comfortable place and the adults are ready to support them, teach them and are excited that they are there.
You can tell when you are at a ‘happy school’. Families know when they are in a welcoming school. And the students experience it each and every day.
The adults are smiling and happy and the students are too. Schools are really joyful places. I think that is why there are so many career educators. It is nice to get up in the morning and go to a place of work where the adults want to be there. As educators we get the double benefit of interacting with youth and connecting with our colleagues. Working with students energizes us and it starts the moment you arrive on campus.
What are the interactions like at your school? Who greets students and lets them know we are going to have a great day together?
I’m sure you are lucky to work in a location as described above. I imagine if you are reading this that you are one of the many educators that is out in the morning greeting students and their families. Or you are at the entrance to your classroom with a huge smile on your face welcoming the children for another day. It does not matter the age of your students, it never stops being good for us. We all like to feel welcomed
We had designated entrance ways for our students. Our Kindergarten students had their own entrance and area of the school and our primary students were met by their teachers and brought in a main door. But it is our senior students, our grade 7 and 8 students that really had a special start to their day. They were greeted at the entrance, on the stairway and at the top of the stairs, outside their classrooms every day. And, consistently, every Friday in my time at the school, and I understand it is still happening today, the students walk up a particular flight of stairs and a magical thing happens.
Ready and waiting for them at the top of the stairs every Friday, from September to June would be the Intermediate team of teachers. Music would be playing and the students would be “played in”. Staff were clapping and singing in the hallway and students would have to walk past, through this team of teachers, like a receiving line at a wedding. What a way to start your day!
They knew it was coming. I would often see students at the bottom of the stairs before they headed up and they would group together so the quiet ones could move through quickly. They would be thinking about the song and wondering which teachers would be there.
It was really interesting on days when we had supply staff. Our occasional teachers really did not know what to make of it, but they would stand near the back of the crowd and clap along. Talk about a first impression to our school.
The majority of the students would move through the gathering and head to their lockers to store their belongings and gather their materials for the morning classes. But many students would pause and do a little dance and show the adults their moves. Even those that moved quickly passed had smilies on their faces. They were ready to face the day and welcomed into their school by the staff that had supported them, cared for them and taught them since the beginning of the year.
Now at your school today, you might have music playing on the loudspeakers to welcome students. Maybe it is playing in order to speed them up or make them aware of the time before class started. While this is a good practice and adds life to the school, our teachers did not do it for that purpose. They did it to celebrate Friday, the end of the week and start the entire day with a positive feel.
Put yourself in the position of your students. What do you first experience when you come into the school? Do you have a place to go if you want to start the day calmly and quietly? Is there a safe place to gather before the day begins? Are there adults you could find if you needed a comforting presence? Are there any activities in the morning for you to join? But most important, what is the feeling you get from the adults when you arrive? Do the adults in your school want to be there and are happy you are there too?
Here’s an Interesting Idea…Would the younger you want to attend your school?