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Little Words—Caring Community

by Thérèse McNamara

 In my current role as an elementary vice-principal, I find morning and after school bus duty both enjoyable and purposeful. This time serves to connect with our 400+ students, get a sense of ongoing needs, and prepare for the day’s eventualities. When kids step down from the buses and move toward the schoolyard, I like to take the opportunity to:

  • Greet them, calling many by name (they move pretty quickly!), and remind them they are part of a community that cares.
  • Appraise and plan. Who might be experiencing challenges and need a check-in during the day? Who may have missed breakfast and need a snack to get started in a better direction? What conflict might be brewing from yesterday?
  • Connect, by making a concerted effort to ‘notice’ what’s new (Love the feather!) and changing in their lives; asking unobtrusive questions (What’s the movie about?) and learning about their interests—what they’re reading about (Hunger Games!), talking about (Hunger Games!) and paying attention to (Hunger Games!).

Similarly, afterschool bus duty provides a time to remind kids we’ll be here for them tomorrow and to get a sense of how well they managed their days. A simple comment or question like, “How was your day?” may provide that consistent presence for those students who may not experience a lot of consistency in their lives.

What do you think? Tell us about your ‘connect/care/share’ moments…

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