Just after nine, on the day after the Switch, a very confident grade 2 student marched into our welcome center (main office) and handed me a handmade envelope. She proudly stated, “I want to be principal for a day” and Miss Carla ~ one of our amazing Student support “angels” ~ said that I needed to write you a letter. I immediately opened the envelope, which exposed a very neatly, well constructed persuasive letter. I had to giggle when, within the body of the letter, she assured me that the morning announcement about late busses and checking the hallway before finally completing attendance would continue to be completed during her time in the position. For those of us navigating school buses, we know too well that, not unlike the rest of the employee groups that we support (teachers, EAs, ECEs, Noon Hour supervisors and custodians) there is a shortage of bus drivers. Each morning, after we check TVARRIS for staff absences, we check the BP Delay App to figure out which busses will be late and which students will be with us until after 4 pm each night as the drivers complete 2 runs. I think in the last 5 months, we have managed to have only a handful of evenings when all buses were there at 3:30 pm to take our student home. But I digress…. lol
As I read her assurance about the announcement, I thought, “It’s really Ms. Cleaver ~ our attendance secretary’s job that she wants.” The author went on to assure me that she is very smart, because she knows that 100 divided by 100 = 1 and that outdoor routines about sunscreen and warm clothing would be addressed, as needed. But it was her final closing sentence that hooked me. “I know if an 8th grader can be principal, so can I”. Such confidence, such passion, and such drive! My wish for her is that she never loses those attributes.
As we are in the throws of EQAO assessments, I could not help but think, “Man oh man, here is a level 4 persuasive letter and this wee one is only in grade 2. I am so excited to see what her future holds. This is an example of when students have an authentic reason for communicating their rationale, they meet/exceed the criteria.
Needless to say, we’re definitely going to create the opportunity for her to use the PA system and make one of those morning announcements about the bus late/attendance/hallway checks.
As the day proceeded, in each class that I visited, I was peppered with questions about the Switch. Students were interested in how Kareem was selected if they could “apply” and how I did on my math test. In one class, I shared that I got 92% and I was disappointed that I used the wrong formula on one question. One astute, reflective grade six student piped up and said, “Mrs. Bruyns, we learn from our mistakes. I bet next time you will remember to use the right formula”.
My heart sings when I hear students, without prompting and with absolutely no agenda, share those lessons that we have been teaching them. Again ~ an authenticity at its very best!
The day ended with a voice message from a wonderful colleague who called and requested to speak with Principal Kareem.
I popped up to excuse him from class and shared that he had a call! As we made our way to my office, we chatted about the math test (he had to complete his during first nutrition break). I loved hearing his thinking as he worked through some of the questions, and we compared our strategies for tackling them. Another reminder about the importance of educators completing the assignments, the tests, the activities prior to giving them to students. Think about the rich conversations/feedback/assessment gems that would emerge during those chats.
When we arrived at my office, we used Teams and reached out to Principal Purvis via video call and the two of them chatted about an issue with two students. Principal Purvis wanted his input. Kareem methodically asked good questions before sharing his direction. The two of them went on to talk about Kareem’s future aspirations. We both smiled, as he shared that he is thinking about going into Real Estate. Thanks to Principal Purvis for taking the time to reach out and add to the authenticity of Kareem’s day as principal. Just one of the reasons that I adore and respect him!
What started out as an incidental conversation 3 years ago has led to an amazing ripple effect. It has created connections, inspired new dreams, and reinforced pedagogical strategies in the most authentic way.
Thanks to all my readers who have shared in this “Principal for a Day” three act narrative! Your encouragement has given me the strength and confidence to continue my Post a Day for the Month of May goal.
Would love to hear some authentic writing opportunities that you have provided for students.
Come write with me….