One of my goals for this school year is to be more present in the school. It’s not that I was away a lot. Rather, I am aiming to make my presence more known in a couple of ways. One strategy is through increasing my frequency of walkthroughs and classroom visits. I have a formidable goal of 300 walkthroughs for the year, or around 100 per trimester.
The other way I plan on increasing my presence is through morning announcements. Right now my school counselor facilitates this daily event. This is great, and I am just looking to join her more frequently with some words of wisdom.
My source of wisdom is 365 Days of Wonder: Mr. Brown’s Book of Precepts, written and edited by R.J. Palacio. This is a companion to the book Wonder by the same author. In the story, Mr. Brown is a featured teacher in the school where the main characters attend. He has quotes that serve as monthly precepts, or principles, which are shared and posted once a month. In this text, some of the quotes are from historical figures, and others are from the fictional characters within Wonder. Last year, one of my assistants posted selected precepts on our school marquee once a month. The response was positive from the community.
I have taken this idea and applied it at the schoolwide level by sharing a precept or two each week. I will read it aloud two times on one day via our PA system, and encourage the school community to ponder what the precept means to them. I will follow up on another day by sharing my own interpretation of what the message is all about and means to me.
Actions may speak louder than words, but that doesn’t mean what we say, read, and write are any less important. Language can create visuals and meanings for someone in unique ways. Word choice can “ground” an idea and make it more understandable, according to George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, authors of Metaphors We Live By (University of Chicago, 1980). Analogies and other forms of figurative language provide frames in which we understand the abstract through a concrete lens. We live our lives through words, embodying them in our interactions with others and in our personal habits.
So the school community can visibly see the precepts I share over announcements, I sequestered a bulletin board. Already covered in black paper and a border that represents our school colors, I use a metallic marker to write the precept on the board, located right across from where students line up for lunch. As the year progresses, I will continue to add to our collection and reference them as needed.
The board title is a take on Lakoff’s and Johnson’s resource. The first of Mr. Brown’s precepts I wrote serves as a mantra for Wonder:
When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.
-Dr. Wayne W. Dyer
This is a quote I referenced in my last post. I imagine we will revisit this precept throughout the school year.