Walk This Way

 

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Walk don’t talk.
Stay to the right.
Keep the line tight.

School is a mass of bodies. Often immature, easily excitable, directionally challenged bodies. Roughly every fifty minutes of the school day, our hallways are flooded with the comings and goings of hundreds of students, moving to music, gym, art or the library. Without a plan, it would resemble freeway congestion during rush hour. There could be pile ups. A few fender benders. And perhaps emergency services riding the shoulder to provide urgent care to a fallen little one.

So we have a mantra for the hallways.

Walk don’t talk.
Stay to the right.
Keep the line tight.

We drill this procedure at the beginning of the year. We remind our students before leaving our classroom doors. We give out little “paws”; notes of encouragement to the students that can be turned in for prizes throughout the school year. It works for us. It promotes order. It reduces hallways chaos. It prevents pile ups in our hallways.

But if you look closely, you can still see those wonderful personalities oozing out of our students. It is one of my favorite moments of the day, watching them walk to and from their special classes. Textbooks set aside. No grades being earned. Simply free to be.

You can see it in their stride.

Avery let’s her hair swing from side to side.
Hariki skips a little.
Bobby has his hand out, touching every locker that we pass.
Porter sleepwalks, somehow moving forward, but his mind clearly elsewhere.

For at least a few moments, they are free of expectations. Well, there is the whole walk-don’t-talk, stay-to-the-right thing, but they are free within a structure. Like the girl in the car next to you, stuck in traffic, singing her heart out and swaying to the music, oblivious that others notice her. But we do see, and envy her freedom. We envy the carefree spirit that finds a way to still be wonderfully unique in a standardized world.

Justin is a marcher, ever respectful of the rules.
Elise admires her shoes, and plays with her dress.
Kayla and Moriah always find a way to walk together. Of course they never talk 😉
Kristin does her best to whisper to anyone who will listen.

And of course I watch them and smile, often setting a terrible example by selecting someone to talk to.
“Devan, is your tummy better today?”
“Melissa, how is your dad doing?”
“Ronny, I really enjoyed your story this morning. You had the whole class wanting more!”

Because sometimes the hallway is my only chance to connect individually. To let them know, “I see you, and you matter.” Sometimes the hallway is the only time to have a quick private conversation that has less to do with school and more to do with learning, about life in general. Sometimes the hallway is my chance to remember to cherish the carefree, wonderfully unique kid inside of me.

 

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One thought on “Walk This Way

  1. Nice post. Hallway procedures are hard for me. I understand the courtesy of order, yet we as adults, when attending meetings and travelling from one room to another, do not behave as we expect our students to behave. Nice to know you see the individual. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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