As the principal of a high school that serves newcomer English Language Learners, I track many pieces of students data: progress with English, attendance, participation in clubs and sports, grades, test scores, etc.
Yet sometimes, a seemingly insignificant moment teaches me more about my school than any piece of official data.
Last week, I was walking past the cafeteria while my students were eating lunch. I heard the normal sounds of lunchtime: over 300 students talking loudly, the occasional shriek of laughter or flirtation.
And, the smell of oranges. Continue reading
Being a high school principal is not glamorous. Case in point: last week, there were way too many chicken nuggets on the student cafeteria floor. Note to ourselves: re-teach cafeteria cleanup.
Chicken nuggets included, I love my job and would choose no other. This week, as I watched a staff trainer work with a student, I realized my experience is unusual.
I hired the trainer to show my staff effective ways to coach students through challenges. I watched the trainer talk to a student named Samantha, who was struggling. The trainer was skillful in getting Samantha to engage in the conversation.
Then the trainer said, “Samantha, I know you’re not excited to come to school today. In fact, I don’t think any of us were excited to come to work. Even I had to make myself get up this morning. None of us really want to be at work.”
Wait a second, I thought. Really? Continue reading
Self-portrait created by a student at the High School of Language and Innovation.
“I don’t like social studies class,” Michael told me. Michael is a 9th-grade student from the Dominican Republic. “The kids at my table speak Arabic too much.”
Looking in on a class in my school, you’ll see groups of students composed of different cultures sitting together. Our school is for English Language Learners from all over the world. Complaints and situations like Michael’s are common, especially in 9th grade when many of the students are recent arrivals to the country meeting different cultures for the first time. We purposefully group students of different cultures together to promote the use of English, which can be tough at first as students are learning the language.
The cafeteria is a different story from the classroom. Continue reading