I recently interviewed elementary principal Craig McCalla on my podcast. His educational philosophy is rooted in inclusion. One of the things he said that really stuck, it was really the passion with which he said it, was all kids means all kids! As Principals we are trained to be inclusive. In order to be great we must believe that every child deserves a chance to be treated equitably regardless of background. However are legal policies in place to be exclusionary either by erecting a wall or discriminating through immigration policies how are the children of these excluded groups going to be welcomed in our schools? How do we ensure that every child feels safe when the world around them isn’t? For me the idea of a sanctuary school is one where all children feel welcome and safe. These three secrets of inclusion are really best practices
This is where most of us can start. We have the power to allot money to posters, books, guest speakers and classroom materials that highlight our community's’ diversity. Using these funds and our staff we can decorate our buildings with images from around the globe. Asking students, families, and community members who their cultural heroes are and then finding ways to display them creates a learning experience for everyone. Even if you’re in a homogenous community, finding books from multiple cultural, socioeconomic and if you’re really daring, sexual identity perspectives and having them in your school and classroom libraries is essential.
Just like the interactive software program Rosetta Stone, you want to be interactive with your students who come from different linguistic backgrounds. Something as simple as “good morning” in a student's’ home language will bring a smile to their face and help them feel safe. Especially if you’re like me and mess up the pronunciation. This small gesture lets the students know that they are welcome in your school and that you have the courage to try to meet them where they arel. As your staff and students see you model this behavior they will follow your lead. This act of personal kindness and cultural sensitivity will help break down superficial barriers.
Apps connect communities
This is a simple tip that must be used judiciously. An app like Google Translator doesn’t always address context. When you send newsletters and other communication out to families, using Google Translator is an easy way to translate your information to all families. If you’re lucky enough to have someone in your district for each language that is spoken having them review the newsletter is always a good idea. I’ve found that even if there are mistakes the families appreciate you reaching out to them and making that attempt. It shows that you respect them and their culture. A school practice of spreading your message in multiple language will help bring your community closer.
Creating a safe school community is the first thing a Principal establishes. Using these tips to help bring your school together is a way to combat the fear that some of our students feel as national policies change. What are some ways you help your students and families feel welcome? Use the comment section below to share your thoughts.
For more tips check out my blog at the http://www.theprincipalentrepreneur.com/. If you’re an auditory learner you can download my podcast The Principal Entrepreneur. Finally, I’m part of a community of supportive principals please join our private FB group.
I'm a Principal and an Entrepreneur. I'm the former owner of a food venture Hustling Hoagies, the author of the children's picture books Detective Dwayne Drake and the Alphabet Thief, Detective Dwayne Drake and The Case of the Mathematical Misfit and the ebook Making it as a Male Model in Michigan. I've worked professionally as a model and commercial actor......