At the end of the last school year I found myself feeling a bit disheartened, unsure of this career path I had chosen. I spent the summer reflecting, questioning and generating ideas. One idea I had was to focus on the positive. We hold many different types of assemblies and celebrations through the year in effort to recognize the achievements of our students.
What if I asked teachers to nominate students to have a special lunch with the Principal, me?
Honestly, I went back and forth with this idea. Should we recognize students for being good students? Does this send the wrong message to other students? What is the purpose? What would the criteria be for the nomination? Has anyone else out there done something similar? Would students even find it exciting?
After some research and much reflection I decided to go ahead and give it a try… I spoke with my staff about this lunch, their nominations and the criteria I had decided on. After a tech PD session, I even put it on a Google form and had the teachers submit the student name to me using the form.
The criteria are:
- Student displays a Christian attitude
- Student respects self and others
- Student acts responsibly about their choices and their studies
With the nomination teachers are asked to explain why they chose that student to be nominated.
I spent time creating a formal invitation which looks like this…
On the inside of the invitation I include why the student was nominated by their teacher. Students have been very touched by the kind words their teacher’s write about them.
Students are asked to RSVP to the office (most of our students do not even know what this means, so it is a wonderful learning opportunity).
Then I set up the lunch room to look like this…
Students come in and we spend the better part of an hour eating together. My goal during this time is two-fold. I speak with each of the students who come to 1. Learn one new thing about that student. What their interests are outside of school? What is their favorite color? :) and 2. I ask them what they enjoy about our school or if they have a suggestion to make our school a better place. I LOVE these conversations! Feedback from our most important stakeholders in an informal way. While we eat pizza, cupcakes and drink pop, we discuss important subjects close to their hearts and my heart.
After lunch I take time to create a personalized certificate for each student who attends lunch. I love reflecting on what I learned about each student and including a short anecdote on each certificate. And, I actually mail these certificates to their home address (it is sure to get home that way) Here is a sample… (The one the children receive is actually in color and on nicer paper…technical issues today!)
I was sincerely unsure if students would find this meaningful. The first time I handed out the invitations I was apprehensive and nervous. I wanted the students to be excited and more importantly, I wanted the students to feel valued.
The purpose for this lunch is to recognize the students’ positive attributes and to thank them for contributing to the positive culture of our school.
At the beginning of the first lunch, I watched each student enter the lunch room, most with smiles from ear to ear. I heard “Thank you, Mrs. LaCroix” about 5 times and was hugged about 10 times before lunch even began. During lunch, I was affirmed when I asked the question, “So, do you think I should hold another lunch like this?” and a grade seven boy (who had eaten 7 slices of pizza) answered, “Yes Mrs. LaCroix, we have a lot of great students here and they deserve to come and have lunch with you too.” Parents have responded positively as well. A parent commented about the formality of the invitations and certificates explaining that their child felt truly appreciated and special.
These lunches (2 so far this school year) have been a beacon of light for me. In our administrative positions it is all too simple to become “bogged down” with the demands, accusations and negativity. Too often we only are faced with negative experiences. Pizza with the Principal has been positive for students, but also for me. :)
Here I am with some of my lunch buddies…