Sunday, September 10, 2017

Hey! Listen To This!

I am so excited that I get to add a brand new name to my "Influential Administrators" list; Dr. Donna Brady.

After retiring from Alabama after 25 years of service I thought that working in schools was behind me.  Luckily, Dr. Brady came into my life and I am back working in an elementary school library and having the time of my life!

One thing I noticed right away was that my new school was filled with positive energy.  I feel that this stems directly from the leadership of Dr. Brady.  Dr. Brady starts each staff meeting with, "Hey, Listen To This!"  During this time staff members can share anything they want with the rest of the staff from something amazing a student did, to sending their child off to college, or announcing a pregnancy.  The point is to let staff share personal joys, heartbreaks, challenges, successes and more. This helps to build a community that supports, weeps, and celebrates together.  

As a supporter of empowering student voice, I stole this idea from Dr. Brady and now use it at the beginning of each library class before we do anything else. The kids love having this time to share and be heard, especially since so much of their time in school is spent listening to an adult.

So far my students have shared about their family vacations, about their grandparents visiting, the arrival or upcoming arrival of a new brother or sister, getting braces, the wart they are getting removed, their upcoming sports event, and so much more!

It's exciting to see their faces light up while they share.  I also love that this time helps me to get to know the close to 700 students that I see each week better.  

I must have talked about "Hey, Listen To This" a bunch at home because my wife and principal in San Antonio, Angie Griffin, recently started using it with her staff. It was fun for them to share their successes and stresses and to be there for each other.

"Hey, Listen To This" is a simple yet powerful community building exercise that you can start doing at your school right away.