As someone who knows that relationships are foundational to the success of a school community, I've had some anxious moments these past few months as I faced the daunting prospect of learning the stories of new students and staff. That anxiety comes from the fear that as I am taking the time to understand the diverse complexities and needs of my new school, I will miss something...something or someone might fall through the cracks.
Of course logically I know that this responsibility is not mine alone. I need to rely on the members of my school community to help add pieces to the puzzle. Counsellors, office and cafeteria staff, custodians, teachers, parents...they each have a role to play in supporting student success. But I still feel the weight of that responsibility. In the end I know that the more I understand about my school community, the better equipped I am to do my job.
However, some of that anxiety has been laid to rest in these past few weeks. It began even before students arrived, with a steady stream of teachers dropping by my office to introduce themselves in the midst of prepping for a new school year. They were curious about my background and experience. But mostly, they were intent on welcoming me.
And it continued this past week as students began classes. I was blown away as student after student, from grade 8 through 12, came up to me, introduced themselves and shook my hand. They smiled, looked me in the eye and told me how glad they were that I had come to the school. Such warmth and confidence left me speechless.
When I remarked to my Admin partner how overwhelmed and impressed I was by this phenomenon, she simply smiled and responded, "They don't know that it's something that teenagers don't typically do. We've never told them that. They don't know that they "shouldn't", so they do."
That's the remarkable thing about kids. They don't know they can't, unless we tell them.
If we consistently maintain high expectations and believe that they can, they will. These students are compassionate, mature and confident because the adults in their lives believe that they are. Their capacity is endless.
Moving ahead, although I still feel a heavy sense of responsibility, my anxiety has lessened somewhat... My goal in the coming months is simply to live up to the incredible standards that my students have set.