I recently stopped by a local bakery to pick up a treat for a meeting. As an aside, I love bringing little treats and surprises to meetings to show people how much they are appreciated. It gets me excited about gathering. Sometimes, it’s the little things that get us excited to come to work. We must remember that this is true for our students as well. Something a little “different” in their day can really get them excited about the lesson or learning. My friend, Molly, reminded a group of teachers this week just how impactful it can be to even change the seating arrangement. When students come to class and see the room looking different, it peaks their curiosity and interest about what might happen!
Anyway, my actual point in mentioning the bakery was how excited the woman who was working the counter was when she saw my work badge. I asked her if she had family connected with the schools, and she shared that she had grandkids in four of our schools and proceeded to tell me about them.
This little interaction reminded me of a story from around the holidays. When the schools went on winter break, the people in our office went out for a luncheon at a hibachi grill. While our hibachi chef made a delicious meal in front of us, he asked where we worked. He got so very excited when we shared the name of our school district. In fact, in what only could be described as a superman moment, he unbuttoned his apron and showed us that he was wearing a school t-shirt under his uniform. With a big smile on his face, he told us about his kids.
Then, as our superintendent walked by and made small talk with us briefly, we said her name, and he instantly recognized her as the district superintendent. He was so very excited – as if he was meeting a local celebrity!
These sweet interactions in the community are simple reminder of the important role our schools play in the lives of so many. Our schools are the epicenter of our community culture. The experiences we create for others every day provide stories around dinner tables, at games, and birthday parties, even conversations between old friends who run into each other at the grocery store.
Because the work we do matters every day. People send us their very best every day. They send us the people who are more important to them than anything else in the whole world. What a big and beautiful responsibility we have to take good care of other people’s children.
I remember fun, little, silly things as a kid. I remember learning to measure inches in school with actual inch worms. I remember how proud I was to do the morning announcements every day as a fifth grader. I remember acting out scenes from a play we were reading in high school English class. But the majority of my epic memories from school came from my extracurricular activities.
If you think about it, as Chip and Dan Heath point out in their book, The Power of Moments, the majority of our time in school is not spent in those engaging after school activities that we remember so vividly – it’s spent in classrooms.
My challenge to all of us is this: let’s remember how much we matter in the lives of our students and their families. Let’s show them how much we care with something small. Something that gets us excited to come back to work. Something that gets kids excited about class.
Because we could all use a little boost right now, and you would be surprised by how much those small moves make their way into the hearts of our students.
We spend a lot of time at work. Our students spend a lot of time at school. Why not make it fun?