When I read our first post by Tony and Brian introducing our vision for this space I instantly got my writer’s notebook out and started writing a list. They shared ‘little things’ that helped create meaningful relationships in the post, Looking at Teaching and Learning through a “Relationship” Lens. I started my own list, wondering if I could think of five small things that might have an impact on our community. I decided to let this list percolate and study them during the first month of school. I was quite surprised last night at parent teacher conferences each of my five things were mentioned at some point by parents.
- Each morning during our morning meeting greet each other. Each week I pick a different greeting for the students and I to do with each other as each child is welcomed. We started with a formal greeting – Good morning, Sam. Good morning, Mrs. Robek. Parents shared last night their child was plotting out how they would “hit the floor” the next day during a greeting chant we did last week and were disappointed we were doing something different this week. This week we did an ankle shake around our circle; they laughed and giggled as they tried to balance.
- Use student names for labels. Names are special gifts from parents with meaning and thought. Every time I write a label with a name I feel like I’m creating a special spot for that child this school year. A notebook or folder or coat hook that will be a place to nurture.
- Send snail mail notes home to share good news. Life is busy and technology can make communication easy but I miss getting meaningful, touching mail in my physical mailbox. When I do, I get a little flutter of joy. I had some postcards made to hopefully bring my students and their families a flutter of joy. I find handwriting a note brings a little more intention to my observations. Just today as we lined up for dismissal a student didn’t hear his name called and another student who rides the same bus got out of line and helped him find a place within the line that was growing to help him get home.
- Start the year with empty walls and curate them together with the class.
- End the school day in song. One summer I worked at a day camp and they had a tradition to end their day. They sang a song; staff and campers. It had a message of closure, wishes for our time away, and a time frame for when we’d be together again. Enjoy our sharing.