Written By: Hans Appel
“We’re built to be relational.”
Are you tuning in to all the 24/7 news cycles about the next great disaster? Cause I’m not! But it’s kinda hard to avoid. Everywhere I turn, I feel like there are verbal, visual, and digital reminders that the CORONAVIRUS IS TAKING OVER!!! Because we live in the pacific northwest, our state is starting to be impacted with things like school closures, increased safety protocols, and fear.
As readers of our Award Winning Culture brand will recognize, our school is well known for its commitment to morning greeting. This form of daily personal connection has centered around high 5’s and fist bumps for years. But recently, in response to the coronavirus, our district has enforced a change to its physical contact rule: NO hand shakes, NO fist bumps, and NO high 5’s. It’s a complete departure from the safe welcoming school that I'm on FIRE to create!
When I first heard about this reactionary rule, I was mad. Mad at our district leaders. Mad at our public safety officials. Heck...I was mad at CORONA herself. [I picture the Coronavirus as a cartoon character like Cruella de Vil from 101 Dalmatians. What can I say...I’m like a big kid!] But the truth is, everyone is just doing their best job to put a stop to a wide spread health concern. And being mad at someone wasn’t going to bring back high fives any quicker.
The temporary rule change has led to elbow or chicken wing contact, foot tapping, and head nodding. But more so, it’s forced us to not simply fall back on physical contact. Students and staff have had to revisit how we’re connecting with people as they enter our building or classrooms.
This meant an increased effort toward using names, handing out compliments, smiling, and making eye contact. It also meant pausing in the hallway to have a little longer conversation than we might normally choose to. And you know what, these are actually more important forms of connection than a well placed fist bump.
Award Winning Culture values CONNECTION over contact.
Coronavirus will probably come and go but I’ll remember this lesson for a while. Connection isn’t about physicality. Connection is about uncovering our HUMANNESS.
“Connection is why we’re here; it is what gives purpose and meaning to our lives.”
Ironically, coronavirus has given me PERMISSION to relook at the ways I’m connecting with others. And in response to that, I re-read a bookmarked blog from Chicago Superintendent Dr. Bradford Hubbard with his reflections from last year’s Teach Better conference. Please check out his complete list of permissions on vulnerable ways we can connect here: “#TeachBetter19, a Reflection.” [And don’t forget to register for #TeachBetter20 to learn how to #MakeItMatter from incredible leaders like Brad].
How might YOU connect with someone TODAY?
About The Author
Hans Appel has worked as a counselor in the Richland School District for the past 19 years and at Enterprise Middle School since it opened. He’s passionate about school culture, servant leadership, and kindness. In 2018, EMS was awarded the ASCD Whole Child Award for the State of Washington and the Global “Class Act Award” for creating a culture of excellence through kindness, service, and empathy. Additionally, the were selected as a finalist in the 2019 PBIS Film Festival and took top prize in the Community, Parents, and Staff category.
Award Winning Culture was created by Hans and Jennifer Appel with the sole purpose of creating an educational mindset of Positive INTENTIONALITY and ACTION; with a daily mantra to make our sphere of influence stronger through Character, Excellence, and Community. Part of AWC's mission is to highlight outstanding educators, companies, and resources that support an Award Winning Culture. Both Jennifer and Hans work at Enterprise Middle School aka Wildcat Nation. Wildcat Nation received the 2018 ASCD Whole Child Award in Washington, for its award winning culture and the 2018 Global "Class Act Award" for Kindness.