My wife (registered nurse) and I lived in the Cayman Islands for two and a half years, I taught grade four, she worked at the local hospital. One of the things we were anxious to try was snorkelling. We had looked at pictures and heard stories about the amazing marine life one could see just a few meters from shore. When we arrived we bought the gear we needed and set out to see what we could see. The stories were true, the variety of fish was stunning! Being a Saskatchewan boy, fish normally meant northern pike, pikerel or Captain High Liner. It was amazing! One animal I longed to see was a sea turtle, Cayman is famous for their turtles. No matter how hard I looked I just couldn't find one. We saw stingrays, barracuda, lobster, octopus, parrot fish, American tourists. Everything but sea turtles. I had almost given up, until one day. Nearly two years after we had arrived, I was taking part in a one mile sea swim. During the competition, with arms, legs, and lungs aching, guess what appeared directly below me. A sea turtle! The cool thing about this sighting was that I was in no way looking for marine life during this swim. But there it was. I took a few seconds to slow down my stroke and watch this huge reptile gracefully swim by. It was beautiful.
So where am I going with this? How does this relate to schools? There are always things you want to see from your students, those things that stand out and really catch your attention. The thing is you don't always see them when you expect to, they can come out of "left field" and catch your attention. The key is slowing down when you see them, paying attention and most importantly, acknowledging the students for what they have done.
Every school has rules, procedures, codes of conduct, etc. and these are important. Because we have these does not mean we need to only look for those kids who are constantly breaking those rules. If we spend all of our time tracking down the rule breakers we will miss out on our "sea turtles". When you walk around your school, especially before classes start or at breaks, what kind of things are you looking for? I think it's important to take the time to just be around the students, be in a position to catch them doing or saying what it is we want our students to do and say. The great thing is that these amazing acts are out there every single day. Just like not all sea turtles are the same size, not all acts are the same, but they are no less beautiful.
Once again, comments are always welcome.