Saturday, 7 November 2015
An Opportunity For More
Every morning, after the first bell of the day, I stand at the front door of my school and say "good morning" to each student as they come in. Without a doubt, it is my favourite part of the day. New to my school this year, in September when I first began this morning ritual, students were a little unsure of how to respond... I should mention that I'm the vice principal of a high school. Most teenagers are not exactly "morning people". As such, many of my students are still groggily half asleep, earbuds firmly implanted, hoods up, coffee in hand. Initially, responses to my greeting would range from the occasional "good morning" in return, to puzzled glances, to complete avoidance. But gradually, as students became accustomed to this morning routine, they began to respond to my greeting, even initiating the now familiar "good morning" themselves.
But the reason why this is the favourite part of my day isn't simply because of those two words, it's because this morning ritual is an opportunity for so much more. Because under the "pretence" of welcoming students into the school, I can get a pretty accurate overview of any number of other factors that are so integral to supporting student learning. On any given morning, I am able to determine if a student who I know often comes to school on an empty stomach, has eaten breakfast. I can take note of which student is coming in without a coat on a cold morning. I can playfully tease a troubled teen to get a sense of their mindset that morning, and attempt to illicit a shy smile. I can compliment an anxious student on a new haircut or a new outfit, hopefully planting a small seed of confidence and security that will set them off on a good path for the day.
Perhaps even more importantly, are the students who walk through the doors ten, fifteen, twenty minutes late. They get that same cheerful "good morning". Because for some of our students, just making it to school is a good thing. I have learned that there is almost always a context, a story, behind that late arrival.
I can't deny, this morning ritual is a bit selfish on my part. Those shy smiles, those morning greetings, fuel me for the day. They energize and inspire me. They remind me of why I do what I do. They are an opportunity for more...