So many things happen at school around Christmas time. We are busy with concerts, activities, food drives, helping families with gift baskets and gift cards, making presents for parents and learning Christmas traditions. We get all wound up with all this business and typically its a race against the clock to get everything done.
This year, a Christmas card showed up in mailbox. It was from a grade 5 student who had come to our school last year from a different city. He had had a rocky school history, battling with behavioral and attentional issues. There had been good days and bad, but here is what the card said,
Dear Mrs. Cullen,
Thank you for taking care of our school and helping this school to be an awesome place. I think you run this school really good. Thank you for helping me when I am angry and supporting me and encouraging me to do awesome. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
After I read the card a few times, I really started thinking about his message and the things he had taken the time to mention. I want all students in the school this way so maybe if I focus on:
- “this school” – having a whole school presence. Being around the school and visible every day and in all aspects of school life. Dropping in to classrooms, clubs, and intramurals. Being visible during entry and exit both inside and out.
- “helping me when I am angry” - let’s face it, I’m here to help. In the good times and the bad. When students are having a bad moment, when they are angry, or frustrated, or mad I am here to help students cope with those emotions, not punish them for having these emotions. The best part about each new day is that it is a new day. Everyone gets to start over without yesterday hanging over them.
- “supporting and encouraging me to do awesome” - all kids, all the time. What can I do to create the conditions where children are successful? How can I manipulate or change the conditions or routines to support children?
Ending the year with this message that reminded me of my true work as a school principal was a delightful gift. Funny how our students are able to identify what is important to them and for school leaders.