Connect. Collaborate. Risk. Innovate.

Connect. Collaborate. Risk. Innovate.

Friday, 20 May 2016

Make Yourself at Home

I often marvel at the contrast between my own experiences in school, and those of my students. One of the most significant differences is the lack of connection that I felt to my school community. There was nowhere that I felt that I truly belonged, and although I had a few memorable teachers who stand out as having impacted my learning and growth, I essentially drifted through my high school years with little engagement in my school community.

In contrast, many of the students at my school treat it as their second home. They are infinitely comfortable there, to the extent where I need to occasionally remind them of some important boundaries and guidelines.

Here are just a few examples of our students making themselves at home...

  • In the course of a day, I've had students ask me for everything from bandaids, to bus fare, to help with putting their tires back on to their bikes. Students who forget their locks quite often leave their bikes in front of my office to keep them safe. 
  • One of our students comes to the office every morning before school to get a key to the music room. She is trusted by the band teacher to use this as her own private practice space. 
  • As both my VP partner and myself keep chocolates on our desks, there is a group of grade 8 boys who regularly stop by to ask for candy. 
  • It's not uncommon for students to walk directly in to my office, "forgetting" to check in with our office staff first. (Here's where those reminders of  boundaries come in!)
  • We often let students into our gym at 7am to play basketball. And escort them back out at 7pm. 
  • A student called after school to ask one of the secretaries if she would check if he had left his phone plugged in to the wall in his classroom. Not only did she retrieve it for him, she called him back at home to let him know that she had. (Our office staff rock.)
  • On a Pro D day, when most teenagers relish the opportunity to sleep in, our entire grad class came to school to work on a lip synch video. 
While I've heard some people refer to this as proof of the sense of entitlement that is often associated with this generation, to me, it is evidence of a sense of belonging that many our students feel. To them, it isn't simply a school- it's their community, their home away from home, their safe place

The fact that I have students who know that their vice principal will stop what she's doing, find a wrench, and get down on the ground (despite the dress and heels) to help fix their bike, just makes me happy...


  1. Replies
    1. So fortunate to have found my way to where I am today, with the support and inspiration of others, like you! Looking forward to what the future holds. :)

  2. I love this post Sarah! Thinking back to my high school years, and knowing how unapproachable our VP was... I so appreciate that you and your school community create a space for kids to belong <3

  3. Thank you Karen. :) With so many demands on our time, we sometimes lose sight of what's most important- creating those connections with our students and staff. One of the best pieces of advice that I received as a new administrator- "People before paperwork."