I have often heard stories of a former principal at Sigler Elementary who moved her desk into the middle of the main hallway and sat up shop, smack dab in the middle of the school to better understand who was coming and going and why. Rumor has it the former principal ruled with an iron fist and if teachers passed her desk, set up in the middle of the hall, they were stopped and questioned as to why they were not working with students.
Today, principals can be seen working in classrooms on wireless devices, laptops and smart phones or seen in the halls using a mobile desk to increase visibility, connect with teachers and students or when needed, just get out of the office.
Tuesdays at Sigler Elementary, our school store is open. I love working the school store, but this year I have let my schedule dictate my availability to be present at the store. Realizing this, I have already vowed to make that change for next year. Being at the store is a guaranteed connection with students. Students line up and spend their “starbucks” allowing me to connect with them; asking how their day was, what was happening in their lives and just listening to the conversations they have with other students as they wait anxiously to make their purchase.
Students come to the store during their recess time, arriving around 10:45 and continuing to come off and on until 1:30 or so. This year I have been guilty of trying to do too much. I will be at the store when I need to be and then go back to the office or somewhere else in the building, during the few minutes that exist in between grade levels. I am trying to get it all done and in the meantime, I miss those encounters with students or other parents and teachers who are passing by.
While I did not move my desk into middle of the main hallway today, I did set up shop using my laptop computer and a chair as a make-shift office. It was great! I was able to connect with teachers who passed by, I was able to talk and greet parents who came in the building to eat lunch with their children and interact, joke and love on the students who passed by and who shopped at the store. I specifically recall a student who went out of this way to let me know tomorrow would be his last day as he was returning to New York to live with his grandma. While I breaks my heart to know he is leaving, I am reminded of the power of being present. Had I not been there, I may not have realized he was leaving until it was too late. These moments, even the sad ones, are what I love about bring a principal in an elementary school and I have not made myself as available as I need to be for them.
We are inching towards the last month of the school year and reflections such as this are necessary now more than ever. Find a few moments to take stock in what you value, remember your why and determine whether or not your actions are aligned with your values and why. If they are not…fix it.
Consider this fixed. I am looking forward to the remaining Tuesdays, the school store and setting up shop, smack dab in the middle of the school.
What was your moment today?