Inside the Trenches of the Principal: Week 11

This past Tuesday we had Community Day at Moore, which was an effort to bring community members and business owners into our school. I wanted them to see the work that our teachers do, and also show off our great students. In preparation, I’ve spent the last two weeks training a group of nine fifth-grade ambassadors, who would be tasked with greeting the guests and providing tours. The event went well and I was proud of the fifth graders. While they were certainly nervous, they rose to the occasion and implemented what we had practiced: good posture, eye contact, firm handshake, asking questions, listening, showing charm, how to give a tour walking backwards, sharing stories and not just facts, and so on.

On Tuesday night I put up pictures on Twitter and a popular educator Twitter group called @teacher2teacher replied to my tweet and asked what was the biggest takeaway for the students? It was a good question, and I responded that I think the students realized that these were real-life skills that they were learning. This wasn’t an abstract math formula that they may never use again and it wasn’t a story passage that they didn’t connect to. Instead, they were practicing the skills that they are going to use when they apply for a job or have a big encounter with someone.

Going through this process with my students made me reflect upon my time working at Ron Clark Academy. Student-led tours and conversations with students is a valued and expected skill set for students to learn while in school there. Week after week I would meet people who would say at the end of the visit something along the lines of “I wish I had those kids, I could do this too” or “Those kids are something special.” And yes, the RCA kids are great and I love them very much, but they are still ordinary kids at the end of the day.

What I’m trying to say is any kid can do this. It’s the adult behavior that dictates how far students will go. Currently, I have 574 Pre-K-5th grade students who have learned how to shake my hand as I pass them in the hallway each day. And I have 84 fantastic staff members who support these efforts by training their students on being a classroom or hallway greeter, and model with me how to greet another person.

It ain’t perfect! We’ve got a lot of room to grow and there are many more things on the horizon I’ll roll out in due time, but I feel good about how my students, in particular my ambassadors, have begun their training for their future.

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