16 Jan Connecting The Dots
Standing at the door for morning arrival or afternoon dismissal is often a favorite part of my day at work. Montclare administrators all take turns greeting our families and monitoring the many arrivals and dismissals for the very practical purpose of safety (those little ones are sneaky and fast!).
That said, the collateral benefits of what we call “door duty” are myriad! It is a joyful experience welcoming children to school. As educators and as parents we know how important it is to acknowledge one another. Beyond being an essential social skill, knowing how to greet and address people provides a meaningful moment of human connection.
Children may only give a shy, “Hello,” at first, hugging a parent’s leg. Gradually, week after week, they often warm up. Sometimes, by the end of the year, I may even get a hug! I can spot the early-riser who shouts “GOOD MORNING, JENNY,” with a smile. Occasionally a child will turn his or her head away in a gesture of dismissal and the grown-up gives me a knowing smile that says “Tough morning.” As a mother of two, I know what those are like! I never worry as I know in moments the grumpy-Gus will be playing happily in the classroom among friends; delighted to be in school.
Beyond what I call “the cuteness parade,” it is a pleasure to welcome the grown-ups! It’s heartwarming to have my salutation enthusiastically returned by mothers, fathers caregivers, and grandparents. In that brief interaction, there is an implicit understanding. Each parent or caregiver is bringing a precious child into our building for safekeeping. For us to nurture and educate. It is a great honor and responsibility that happens every day, yet it is something we do not ever take for granted.
On a less serious note, one of the perks of “door duty” is the front-row runway experience. Depending on the weather I am able to appreciate an array of fabulous outfits accessorized with animal hats, superhero capes, snazzy light-up sneakers, polka-dots, mismatched socks, tiaras, clips and more. I admire the well done-up hairstyles and am equally charmed by the fuzzy, asymmetrical, bed-heads. It’s fascinating to see how each child’s personality, even this early in life, shines through.
Admittedly, some mornings I may be a bit testy if I haven’t yet had my coffee(s). Right now it’s cold out. Maybe I didn’t (don’t ever) get enough sleep. But those are the days when it is most critical for me to stand at the door. I find it absolutely impossible to remain even slightly grouchy after the first “Good morning.” Furthermore, seeing all those smiling faces and even the grumpy faces, reminds me of how much I love being a part of this community. That we ARE a community.
Regardless of the greeting or the garb, “door duty” is a meaningful moment, however brief, for me to connect with our families. Whether it’s to answer a parent’s quick question, chat about a toy that a child is eager to share, or just gab about the weather… The name of the game is connecting and often it isn’t until I’m standing there that I realize just how vital that connection is.
Jenny Bruce is the Director of Communications for Montclare Children’s School and is currently enrolled at Teachers College, Columbia University in the Education Technology Specialist MA program. Always an avid learner and tech-fan, Jenny manages Montclare’s website, social media and supports education technology initiatives and professional development. She’s also a mother of two young boys, a blogger and a singer-songwriter (when she can).