A major concern of mine moving out of the class room and into administration was the inability to positively connect with kids on a daily basis. As a new Principal, my realization is that I now have the ability to connect with more kids, not less. So I am making a concerted effort to do so.
It is my goal as a 1st year Principal to make a connection with each of the 1,050+ students at our middle school. As I set this goal, I questioned the sanity of it, considering the enormity of the task- a thousand of them but only one of me. I love a challenge, and believe this is one of the single most important goals I can have. It is a no lose situation- for each day that I reach just one more kid is a day that our school gets better.
7 Simple Ways I Connect with Kids:
1. Know their names
- Memorizing a thousand student names will take time, but can be done. I write the names down, I look them up on the computer and study them. I even ask the same student their name more than once, which annoys them, but is necessary at my age :)
2. Visit them at lunch
- The lunch room is one of the best places to get to know your students. I try to visit each lunch daily, and make it a point to visit every table. I let students chose the topic of conversation and have found it an amazing way to learn about them personally.
3. Visit them in the class room
- Visibility in classrooms is something I am making a priority. Students love to see their principal in the class and show off what they can do. It makes for great discussion when you see the student outside of class, and is an opportunity to discuss their learning on an individual basis.
4. Go to where they are
- Our jobs as administrators doesn't end at the bell, it just begins. We have several after-school programs and sport offerings for our students. I make it a point to visit students regularly here. It shows them I care about what they do after school, and usually is a more relaxing environment for them to talk with me. I also meet students 1 by 1 who are waiting for parent rides after school, or who get dropped off early in the morning. This is a terrific way to get to know students.
5. Take the bus
- I have done this before with high school students, (see post Back to School-Student for a Day) and found it be enlightening. I've taken the bus with students this year and have had so much fun getting to know our kids! The bonus is they even get to know me - I made the mistake of having them guess my age....64 was the highest guess :)
6. Visit their homes
- Before the school year I spoke with @casas_jimmy (recommend following!), a principal I respect greatly, about his home visit program. I was inspired! I visited 3 homes this summer and met wonderful students and caring parents. It was an amazing experience, and one I recommend every administrator and teacher try. I have a special connection and mutual respect with these students/parents and plan on expanding this program for next year.
7. Helping kids make good decisions
- Sometimes good kids make bad decisions. If students are suspended from school, we hold re-entry meetings. These meetings are my opportunity to meet with the student & parent/guardian to discuss how we move forward and make sure we don't repeat the same behaviors again. Principal re-entry meetings are a positive way to build a respectful and disciplined school environment.
How are you showing kids you care? I am interested in hearing what you do to get to know your students - Please share!