Redefining the role of leading at Pre-3rd grade also means redefining where the leader does the work. Being out of your office and where the students are shows all those around you who you are here for and that you are ready to see and fill a need where ever it may be.
On the first day you will find me in the following places.
- Early on checking in with the cafeteria. I have to remember many of these students have never even seen a milk carton-much less know how to open one up so going the extra mile to say hi helps on a busy first day.
- Checking in with the custodian. How did the weekend go? Any issues that may impact families/students on day one? Many tears and nervous tummies keep our custodian busy every day-however on day one everyone wants things to run well and look good for students.
- Before school child care. This might be the only time I am in my office before school. My window looks out to our parking lot and Woodson sign. If I see parents coming up with cameras I run out and ask to take family pictures with their children. Just because they have to work doesn’t mean that they can’t still have that first day of school picture-it just means I need to be available to help make that happen.
- Before the buses arrive. About 20 minutes before the buses arrive-parents show up. Some are nervous, some are excited, some just really need to see that their child can get from home to school with no issues. Myself and some of the support staff are out reassuring families no buses have arrived yet and reviewing the routine of what will happen once children get off the bus. Having a person out on site decreases any nerves and allows parents to express their fears about their child’s first day.
- Traffic control. We are a small school-even for 350 students our family parking lot fits maybe 30 cars…not the 200 + that show up for the first few days of school. We have staff guiding parents to parking spots on the grass and helping families cross the busy streets on the first few days to make sure it is a safe start for all.
- Playground support. 90 minutes later the buses are arriving! Students hop off and head either to the playground or breakfast. I usually head to the playground to answer any additional questions from parents and get ready for the big goodbye from our playground lines. Being visible also helps staff not just families. Out on the playground I check in with teachers-how are they doing? Are you just as nervous as your students? Can I get you anything? Do you have a student that might have a hard time saying goodbye? Being visible and available shows that you care about all aspects of the day-not just about what happens in the classroom.
- Office support. The kids are in, but now the office is full. Some families want to register their child for kindergarten, other families need to put money in the lunch account. A few families missed their back to school conference and need to set up a time to meet with the teacher after school. And some families had a tough start in the am and are just arriving, frazzled and nervous as well. Supporting the administrative support might mean calming down a family that wants to speak with the teacher now….helping them understand that they are teaching students but that I can answer anything or set up a time for them to talk with the teacher after school that day. It might be explaining to a family how to fill out a free/reduced lunch form because even though the older siblings have qualified we still need an application for the newest member to the school district.
By now it is about three to four hours into my work day and I am exhausted. Supporting all those stakeholders is a big job and something I loose sleep over before day one. However I know that I am not the only one exhausted from giving 110% to ensure our day starts off well and students are excited to learn. Knowing that is our expectation makes the work exciting and fulfilling (and when you see so many smiling faces how can you not have fun!).
Keep Dreaming BIG for our Littlest Learners, and stay tuned for Rule #2 tomorrow,