It's May. While all eyes turn to the end of the year, I think it's time we start counting up some of the end of year conversations we need to have before summer starts and we're not seeing our students each day.
I've written before about my belief that we are wired up so that things outside us tell us who we are (here's the link if you're interested). That's neither good nor bad; for me, it's reality. Without getting into the whole logic behind it and whether or not that sits well with you, I don't think it's a stretch to say there is great value in speaking truth into the lives of our students.
My role as a assistant principal puts me in conversations with many students who have failed to meet expectations. I realized late last week though that a student who I visited with quite frequently last school year had a reasonably good fall and a fantastic spring semester. It didn't take long for me to realize that it was time to call him to the office for a different sort of conversation.
This student is the one who is nearly unrecognizable from himself last year. He's turned it around in terms of behavior, and that's led to him being a totally different academic student. Here's what he'll hear from me:
"Last year was not your year. We had a lot of conversations--too many--in which I told you that you were the only one who could turn it around, that you had to want it. I meant it when I said that. I was serious. And you did it. I'm impressed with the young man you're becoming. Let me know if there's anything big of small I can do to help you out."
Once I started through this conversation, I realized there were more students I needed to visit with. I'd like to share a few of the conversations that I realized I need to have with some of my students. Maybe one or two will remind you of a student you work with. If so, I challenge you to go and share a word of encouragement with that student. Be specific with the growth you've seen and share candidly how students have made an impact for the better this year.
The "Invests In Others Well" Student
This student is the one who gets along with everyone. She's popular, but she really doesn't care about that popularity. She treats everyone as equals. She is present with each person she interacts with, and each person's day is better after interacting with her. Here's what I'll tell her:
"You're a popular student who is successful academically. Really, it's hard to find something that's not going well for you. But what's most impressive to me is the way you value people. I notice that you do a great job investing in others. You make little conversations a big deal, and the way you interact with everyone I see leaves them feeling better about themselves afterward. Thanks for investing in others."
The "Always Positive" Student
This student is the one who always says hi. The one who is busy, who has plenty going on, but who always takes time to say hi. Even to this assistant principal. I've written before about the value of those little interactions, and seeing her interact with others reminds me to go back and be better about those little interactions because, on the other side of them, they really do make a difference.
"Thanks for taking time to be positive. I see your positivity each and every day. I know that it probably takes a concerted effort on some days to stay so positive. But I want you to know that I'm thankful for the way you interact with others so positively. It makes me better, and I'm thankful when we cross paths."
So, who do you need to speak into this month? Time is ticking. Summer will be here soon. When you hear the countdowns that too often creep into conversation at school, remember that with each day and each hour, we have less time to invest in our students. Take the time to do that well over the next few weeks.