This year we have a new principal at my school. One of the changes brought about included a staff presence in the hallways during the class changes. While I have always greeted my students as they entered the room, I have not stood outside of the classroom to greet students. I am absolutely amazed by the changes I have seen since I have been standing OUTSIDE of my classroom rather than inside.
This five foot change has meant an improved reputation for my program, a greater understanding of the overall student population at my school, and the easiest free advertising every! I cannot encourage this small addition to your daily routine enough & here is why:
As I stand outside of Room 320 each day, I greet all kinds of students. Music kids, art students, theater, athletic, everyone! As they walk past my room, I make sure I smile and look them in the eye. Often I am getting ready for my class with my hook. I always have something to “hook” the kids into my room. My vision for the hook is to transform their day the minute they arrive at my room. Sometimes it is a piece for a game we will play, such as a straw for bow grip games or a penny for chord-building, sometimes it is a mini speaker with music playing, echoing throughout the hall as kids waltz by on their way to classes, and other times, it is a quote written on a huge piece of paper. My hook not only reaches my own students, but hooks others. I cannot believe I had not thought about this before! But now, students walk by and ask about the lesson for the day. Students who have never been in orchestra will say “Man, I knew I should have joined orchestra…” Or “Man! That class looks like so much fun!” Could they give me a better compliment?!?! Even teachers walk by and ask to join my class! (I would TOTALLY let them join orchestra if they had the time!) In the past, I was in my own room doing this exact same thing, but now I am advertising to the masses of students and teachers as they walk by every period! Thanks to this increase in visibility, I have also gained a greater understanding of the overall student population.
When you are a music teacher, it is incredibly easy to have blinders on and to only see the music kids. This is a dangerous habit in a world of decreasing enrollment and we must strive to know trends and students within the entire school if we are to continue building our programs. Now that I have been standing in the hallways, I have learned that most of the student population dresses in extremely inappropriate clothing! I mean… I have had to bug some of my own students about the dress code, but I realize that they are practically professionally dressed compared to many of the other students! Bellies and buttcracks and wayyyyy too much skin pouring over jeans…. I had NO idea…. Now I do… Now I realize why my students think it’s ridiculous when I ask them to wear longer shorts… I understand that cursing is the norm rather than the exception within my school… And that my students are kind of angelic in comparison! This gives me so much insight into what my own students deal with every day and how drastically things have changed since my own time in high school. I have also learned, however, that when you smile and greet students, you eventually build relationships with them. And if you ask nicely for them to stop cursing, many of them will at least try to keep it in while they pass you. It may fly out the minute they are away from you… But it at least makes a bit of a difference. I also have learned that many students do not have a “home” within school, and sometimes the kids you don’t even know will confide in you because you are one of the teachers who are “safe…” Don’t we all want to be a safe person for all of our students???
In addition to gaining an understanding of our students, standing in the hallway during class changes also can improve your reputation with other teachers, administrators, and staff members! Now that I have been manning my post, others seem impressed daily with what I am doing in my classroom! This has increased visits to my room, videos of my students on social media, and little features in the school newspaper! I have taught at AHS for the past four years and I am just now getting to know more of the staff members thanks to my mandatory “hall duty” but I am not complaining at all! I am loving it!
So, if you are dreading those three-eight minute class changes in which you have to stand out in the hallway just yelling at kids, I would encourage you to change your mindset! Here are a few easy things you can do to make it more fun:
- Bring out your instrument & serenade them!
- Bring out your speakers & play music as they walk by!
- What are you working on in class that day? Bring out a prop
- Think VISUAL AID – Bring out something to spark an interest in passersby. A poster, a quote, a game piece, a score, anything!
- Hand out fliers for your upcoming events
- Just smile, look awesome, and make a kid’s day better 🙂
I hope you will enjoy your next hall duty and that all of these good things will be coming your way! Thanks for reading and enjoy your new-found visibility!