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I had the great pleasure of visiting a variety of schools this past month.  I love to capture what I see, hear, and experience especially in the hallways and when no one knows I am observing!  I should have taken pictures or videos, but I didn’t want to ruin the moment and not be fully present during my visits.  I am thankful for the educators who are the models for why we choose to do this difficult work on a daily basis.  We spend a lot of time “teacher bashing” – we need to celebrate educators more and on a more frequent basis!

Here are some highlights:

  • watching young children (3-6 year olds) eagerly choose a book to read while waiting in the lobby to be picked up and invite their friends to come read with them
  •  teachers chatting after school in the hallway about their day with smiles on their faces and talking about their kids with passion and love
  •  staff interacting with parents in the hallways during dismissal, knowing every parent by name and knowing specific details about their children
  •  working with teacher leaders that are excited about coaching – when establishing expectations for our meetings, one fellow said,  “outside of the box thinking” – what a fabulous norm.  We should always be thinking differently and I hope to foster that.
  •  observing a Socratic Seminar in a middle school where the teacher is truly facilitating or observing from the sidelines and students own the process
  • observing an elementary school math lesson where students were working in small groups and enthusiastically talking about math
  • listening to young entrepreneurs from the middle east share how they are working to change the trajectory for youth in their countries
  • facilitating professional development sessions at a Common Core conference with educators in Dubai, UAE who were so gracious and invested in learning new strategies

As a school principal, I would capture the good that I saw in children, teachers and even parents and guardians.  I made it a priority send a hand written note (at least twice a year) in the mail thanking someone for something they had done to impact the life of a child in our school.  Although it seems like such a minor gesture, my staff was always grateful to be acknowledged in that way.  Don’t get me wrong, I always had chocolate in my office as well!

How do you thank those that are making an impact in your school?  How would you like to be acknowledged?