Reimagining “Tardy Slips” to Welcome All Students

by | 08.9.18

Every person at our school – student or staff member – is a learner. Each day, we all have to board the energy bus we’re driving. And, as a new principal – about to start my second year – I see myself as a lead learner. I want my own learning to be visible to teachers, because I know how hard they’re working to model learning for students.

That’s why, when I saw a new idea on Twitter to build community, I knew I had to put it into practice.

Last year, the school where I worked focused on finding ways to build community by better serving our families and students. A big part of that was making sure each student felt welcomed every single day. The idea I found offered a way to transform our tardy slips to better welcome students into the school – even when they didn’t arrive on time.

In the past, when students arrived late, they’d receive a “Tardy Slip” – just a red piece of paper that alerted them to the fact they were late. It wasn’t the most welcoming way to bring our learners into school for the day.

So, we made a change. We rolled out a new tardy slip. This one told students, “We’re glad you’re here.” The messaging was that we were excited our students had arrived to learn – at whatever hour they showed up.

The new tardy slip felt less threatening – more like a welcome than like a punishment. Our community responded positively, and families commented on the warmth of the wording. It’s one small step toward creating a calmer feeling at our school.

Most of the families whose children attend the school live in poverty. They experience a lot of stressors, and just getting the kids to school can be a struggle some days. Anything I could do to lessen the burden, I wanted to do.

As educators, we want student achievement to be at the center of everything we say and do. It’s key to focus on our relationships with students and families and to create a more welcome environment each time they walk onto campus. Our culture is communicated by how we greet people.

The way I see it, if you can look at what’s happening in your school and say you’re doing the best thing for kids, then you’re making the best decision – no matter what.

About the Author

Eli Casaus
Eli Casaus

Eli Casaus is an educator in New Mexico. Follow him on Twitter @MrCoachEli.

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