Being Connected Educators month, I have read so many posts about ways that we should be globally and digitally connected and it is wonderful and important! I am also glad I have had the opportunity to really reflect upon being face-to-face connected with those individuals closest to me, right in my own building and community! I have a tendency to over think things which sometimes leads to the dismissal of work done or time spent (I may have done that with the ideas below...). Here some pretty reasonable ways to keep connected with your community.
- Hold up a sign in the street - caught your attention with that one! Every morning (just about) I'm out in the front loop managing traffic. This has increased connection time two fold because I get to greet parents and students! Parents have really responded to this! Also a great opportunity to learn names!
- Afternoon duty - engaging socially with adults is not comfortable for me. I'm pretty introverted, so this is hard, but valuable work. In the afternoon I rotate my location and whether business or shootin' the breeze, this is great connection time with parents that come to pick up their kids.
- Social media - the engagement post has been huge here and when we have shared those, we have had a great response! Our next strategy to try is encouraging weekend posts! The learning post is a great way to connect as well! Sharing resources usually has the effect of bringing follks together.
- IEP & 504 meetings - these are a missed opportunity if not used for this purpose in addition to the plan development! This has been my "go to" time in building relationships. If you happened to walk into a school social event and saw me talking it up with a parent, it is highly likely that it would be on of these parents!
- Cafeteria walk-throughs - Every so often I'll wander through the cafeteria and sit with kids for a bit. Great check in time with kids! My principal, once a month, will have teachers nominate kids to come eat lunch and she'll get some student voice as to how things are going at school! The conversations are great!
- Read alouds to class - kids remember this and the impact of sharing my love of literacy is lasting! Kiddos at Eagle Ridge know very clearly my thoughts on reading!
- Saying hello at Kroger (or wherever) - you all have had a kiddo, especially our younger friends, that see you in the store and are in awe that you exist outside the school walls. This past weekend, there was a new ice cream place that opened near our house/school. They were doing free ice cream, so of course we were going to be there! My wife and kids met me there, so I was walking in by myself. I immediately noticed a 1st & 2nd grader from school and went to greet them and say hello to parents as well and went on to find my wife and kids. The 1st grader immediately went to find my son (also in 1st grade) and asked him in complete awe, "did you see Mr. Stamm is here!?" Greatness! It's so important that our kiddos and parents see us as "normal" (normal as it gets for me) people.
- Signals - I have a finger wave that is used so that when they see me in the hallway or I walk into class, they can greet me without causing a disruption to class and are able to continue meeting hallway expectations. I get this in Kroger sometimes, too!
- Learn their name - if there was #1 on the list, this would be it. I've tweeted it before, there is are few things that make people feel more appreciated, than when you call them by name. The reactions are often priceless when kids realize I know their name. It's probably worth it's own post!
- Join their tables at social events - the comfortable thing do for me would be to sit with my office staff at PTA lunches or baby showers, but it these are often times when I learn the most about my staff! Mingling is huge!
- Quick visits during conference times - these are investment times and hard because it's their time to get things done and I want to respect that. I'll poke my head in and follow up on life then move on. Sometimes, it's opened doors for other conversations and just as when people poke their head in my door for that purpose, it is so much appreciated!
- Keep the door open - sometimes to the detriment of making head way on the piles of paper on my desk. I'd rather make the people investment. The paperwork always seems to get done!