The Limitless School: Year One Culture Changes at Moore Magnet

I posted a Tweet last night that listed out a handful of the cultural changes that we implemented at Moore Elementary last year in my first year as principal.

I was bombarded with comments, messages, and emails afterwards that inquired about the background on many of these changes. So the simplest way to address this would be to get it into a place that everyone could hear the same thing:

Classroom & Hallway Greeters: Each classroom (Pre-K-5th) is required to have a classroom greeter and hallway greeter, with backup greeters as well. I allow the teacher to decide how they are selected and rotated. I trained every student in my school on my program called S.P.E.C.I.A.L. I also had my Ambassadors do additional training with them. Greeters job are self-explanatory; when an administrator, guest, parent, etc. enters the classroom, the classroom greeter gets out of their seat, approaches the individual, and provides an appropriate greeting to the person. In the hallway, if the class is walking down the hallway, the hallway greeter (may or may not be the same person as the classroom) steps out of line and does the same thing. We train the students to understand the difference between talking to me (someone they know well) versus a community partner (someone they will need to get to know more).

Ambassadors: This is an elite group of 5th graders who are the face of my school. I give them weeks of boot camp that involve learning every nook and cranny of the school. I teach them how to greet, give tours, present in front of crowds, and many other things that allow me to trust them to represent the school when I cannot. To become an Ambassador, students must apply, get recommendation signatures, interview, and try out. The Ambassadors must maintain strong academics, behavior, and skills.

Moore 4: These are four consistent, visible behaviors that we expect to be demonstrated on a consistent basis at all times in our classrooms: 1) Tracking the speaker, 2) Using manners and respect (yes/no ma’am/sir; please/thank you), 3) Using SPECIAL greetings, 4) Standing to respond when it is your turn to speak.

Painted Halls and Classrooms: Check out my Instagram page (@adamdovico), where you will see many of the painted halls and classrooms that we have done this year at Moore. My staff has taken it upon themselves to paint their rooms, anything from a solid color to elaborate designs and murals. My amazing art teacher has continued throughout the summer to transform our hallways and front lobby. Next year I will be continuing this effort by forming a “paint” committee of parents who can help with this initiative.

Room Service Cart: My assistant principal and I roll around a black computer cart with snacks, drinks, and candy to classrooms to surprise the staff with treats. We tried to be random about it so it was always a surprise. We did a couple of themed one, including “100 calorie snacks” for the “100th Day of School.”

Community Outreach: I’m very fortunate that my school is in a densely populated part of our city, with hundreds of businesses around us. I spent the first week of my principalship walking around to businesses meeting people, and then invited community members in for our first Community Day at Moore. Throughout the year, we have invited the community into the school to see what we are doing and more importantly, celebrate our scholars.

Friday Rally: Each Friday, we come together as a school in our gym from 8:45-9:30, where my assistant principal and I lead our Rally. It includes student celebrations, a character education lesson, sign language lessons, House Wheel spins, guest speakers or presentations, and more. I give my teachers extra planning time during Rally, and this coming year we’ll be using this time for strategic vertical and team meetings for teachers. Once a month, we use this Rally time for House meetings instead, where each of the five Houses meet to do team builders, challenges, cheers, and more.

Awesome Office Visits: I wanted the principal’s office to be a place where students wanted to go. To change that perception, I began Awesome Office Visits, which allow teachers and staff to recognize students who show achievement in areas such as academics, behavior, character, demonstrating the Moore 4, continual growth, etc. When students bring the form to my office, I sign their referral, the student gets to sign my chalkboard wall, and I make a phone call home to tell their parents the good news. On Friday Rally that week, I call the names of those students who got Awesome Visits. At the end of the quarter, we do a drawing of names for those students who had Awesome Visits to earn a big prize (like a bike).

Amazing Shake: This was inspired by my time at the Ron Clark Academy, which I was able to help begin many years ago. The competition at Ron Clark Academy has grown to tremendous proportions, and so this year I wanted to start fresh with my school. This was a competition for my 5th graders that challenged their social skills, ability to think quickly, use manners and etiquette, and more. I encourage you to check out the National Competition that the Ron Clark Academy holds and consider entering it if you teach grades 5-8.

This is just a pocket of the cultural changes that we made this year at Moore Elementary, but it has helped grow our school to a place where we are heading to some great things. We are certainly not there yet, but we have a number of the pieces in place to continue to align the pieces to become a Limitless School. I have been able to use my book, The Limitless School, as a handbook for building a positive culture in the school, and encourage you to check it out if you are looking to make those same changes at your school!

Amazon Link for The Limitless School


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