How Can I Help You?
The importance and power of a positive culture in any school or classroom is vital to maximize results. One of the ways I’ve found to improve culture and relationships is by simply asking, “is there anything I can do?” Having a “how can I help you” mentality will help improve the culture of your classroom, grade level team, building, and administrative team.
Oftentimes when I ask this question the answer is “no thanks,” but I still continually ask people. I ask in the hope that they allow me to help them. The lingo we use at our school is “bucket filling.” I’m constantly trying to fill people’s buckets, so that I can develop an even better relationship with them. Growing up playing sports has allowed me to be a part of teams my whole life. Now I consider my team the staff I work with. Having an interdependent relationship with staff is imperative to get best results.
There are times where it can be overwhelming with what is already on my plate, but in the end everything gets done at some point. Taking the time to help others opens it up for them to pass it on. This is something that can be contagious to other people. Occasionally, even though it’s not my ultimate goal, it can come back around and I can be the beneficiary of a peer’s willingness to help.
Being helpful to other people doesn’t just work to help build relationships and the culture, but also gives an opportunity for growth in other areas. Some of the tasks that I’ve been asked to help with are not necessarily strong points of mine. At times this can get me out of my comfort zone and lead to new interests or experiences that I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to have otherwise. As an aspiring administrator having experiences outside of my comfort zone will help me gain perspective.
Sharing The Leadership with Students
Perhaps the most rewarding piece of this “how may I help you” attitude is watching students take on that role as well. Being a fifth grade teacher and having the oldest kids in the school this opens up leadership opportunities or ways for students to help staff members too. An example of this would be a group of volunteer fifth graders that get to school early each day to help the Pre-K teacher in the morning. Greeting students at the door and sitting down and reading to them has helped immensely with the start of the day. Thus also giving older students new experiences as well.
Another example would be students sacrificing one recess a week to help with our adaptive students. Getting to read and hang out with these students has helped give them more perspective. To tell you the truth it also had a couple of students out of their comfort zones for a while. Not only have my students learned valuable life lessons doing this, but also some of them have even learned, and are very excited about learning, sign language. This has in turn added to out of school learning by some of the fifth graders looking up new signs to communicate with certain kids.
When you start to take on this attitude it can sometimes be difficult and overwhelming. My best advice would be to start small by asking team members how you can help them first. The point is to build relationships and build a positive culture, not to keep score. You may find initially your efforts outweigh some others, but as time goes on and the culture begins to change. It becomes one of help and support for all, students and staff.
Randall Rank is a passionate 5th grade teacher at Union Valley Elementary in Hutchinson, KS. Additionally, Randall is a boys and girls coach as well as an aspiring administrator.
Tags: Building Capacity, Servant Leadership, Student Leadership