Now that’s a welcome, I thought. It was loud, vibrant and incredibly warm. It got me thinking about how many of our students feel welcome at school and in our classrooms.
It was loud, vibrant and matched with the biggest smile.
I was swept up and away. I couldn’t help but beam.
Nothing else mattered at that point.
I felt like I was home!
Truth be told, I was at my hairdressers.
Being welcomed – in the most joyous manner – by my hairdresser’s partner.
It got me thinking about the power of a welcome in our classrooms – just because of the transformative effect this welcome had on me.
The Sheer Contrast
We’re clothes shopping.
And it’s like we’re invisible.
Others right next to us are acknowledged, smiled at, and assisted.
They’re welcome. We’re not.
We’re ignored. They walk right past us – look right through us.
If we are acknowledged, it’s without a smile. It’s joy-less. It’s passion-less.
And when we ask for service, it’s like we’re being totally unreasonable.
Maybe we’re not their target customer – not the sort of people they want to hang around in their store.
Maybe we’re not dressed right. Maybe we’re the wrong age group.
Whatever the reason, whatever the assumption, it feels terrible.
I begin policing myself – limiting my time in the stores, being wary of, and feeling tense about entering other stores.
And so I wonder about the myriad of ways that we tell some students and communities they’re not welcome – in explicit and implicit ways.
The Sign Says It All
We’re on holiday and heading off on a walk.
We pass a large secondary school which has one of those large signs – that displays key messages from the school.
The message displayed here – is all about – showing your pride in your school through wearing your school uniform.
Of all the messages you could display – of all the positive, pro-active, challenging messages – this is what you choose as your pre-eminent greeting for students, parents and carers as they arrive at school.
So how do you welcome your students?
Do you meet and greet your students at your class-door or the school gates?
Do you check in or have a brief conversation about important events that’ve happened overnight or on the weekend?
Even if you’re deep in preparation mode – do you at least raise your heads briefly, make eye contact, smile and say hi?
Do you remember weird and wonderful things about your students – little things that make them stand out – and make a special point of acknowledging and supporting that aspect of who they are?
Do the posters on the wall – the books out on display – the multimedia used – the work displayed – tell students:
I see you – I get you – You’re home.
Is your room all set up ready to go – with activities your students love to do?
- a room where they can bring who they are – as well as their lived experience – to whatever they’re doing.
Which students and communities feel welcome at your school?
- What is it that makes them feel welcome? And how are you building on this welcome?
Which students and communities don’t feel welcome at your school?
- What is it that makes them feel unwelcome? And what are you doing about this issue?
And what about our parents, caregivers & extended communities?
- How do we welcome them?
- Check out my Social Justice Posts & Podcasts
- Read my post about building a Safe and Supportive Classroom for English Language Learners
- Must Read Posts of Christina Torres
- Must Read Series on teacher bias and expectations by Tonya Ward-Singer
- Check out the Twitter Chat – #PTChat (Parent-Teacher Chat) and follow @Joe_Mazza