things looked a lot different in my classroom -
and in our school.
Here is the next item on a short list that comes to mind.
About ten years ago, I had an epiphany. I have to admit, I hadn't given much thought to school culture back then, but I had understood that my own classroom culture could stand above the norm. I brought the expectation of greeting others into my classroom, and it changed just about everything.
I hadn't learned how to do this in my own education. I am still awkward with it myself, but if I can do something to help my students be more "employable" and more respectable, it's worth it. Enter: the handshake. We started learning to shake hands, with full-on eye contact and a solid grasp, and it made all the difference for the whole day. Hoggatteers started greeting the principals and other teachers, but that was just the beginning. They also greeted the painters of our hallway mural. They met the visiting musicians of classical quartets and quintets who performed in our school. And perhaps the most meaningful experience was when they greeting military veterans who came to our building for tributes. I will never forget the time when a student returned to me and told me, "I just made a grown man cry." All he had done was thank the vet for his service.
Greetings like that were the talk on the radio and among school board members and administrators, but they also became (somewhat) a norm in our building. Others latched on to the idea of greeting others, and suddenly the whole school's culture was transformed. Many wouldn't recognize it for what it was, but visit another school and you'll notice the more "family" nature of Cecil Floyd.
Our interim superintendent, Dr. Norm Ridder, agreed with the greeting concept, and a new set of icons were developed for our entire district, with one representing Greeting Others. It's supposed to be a standard for all of our schools, but it has never taken off with reasonable fidelity like it has at Cecil Floyd.