Posted by: darcymullin | February 28, 2013

Getting Out There

Last year was a difficult one in BC education.  We were in the midst of job action and it took a toll on everyone.  As an administrator I was on duty during every break.  It was difficult for sure, but it was my first year at Giant’s Head and I sure got to know the kids and their families quickly, so there was an upside to it.  I also got to know the kids outside of class.  I got to see who their friends were, who they had difficulty with, all in all I had a pretty good sense of where “kids were at.”

When job action was over we quickly returned to our old routines.  I was pretty tired of supervision, so I found myself making it outside at recess and lunch less and less.  To be honest, it was important for me to stay and spend time with our staff.  I was new and break times are one of the few times of the day when we can socialize and get to know one another on a more personal level.  It’s also an important time to be available to staff to talk about different initiatives,  students or concerns that arise during the course of  a school year.

This year (for whatever reason) seems busier than last.  At times it has been hard to keep my head above water. Not only that but I seem to be spending more and more time after breaks putting out fires and dealing with student behaviour.  More concerning, it seemed that more of my interactions with kids were negative.  Interacting with kids is the best part of our job, so I knew something had to change.


In a moment of insomnia (that seem to plague every educator), it hit me.  I had almost stopped going outside during recess and lunch.  I wasn’t available to the students in the same way.   In many ways I had lost touch with what was going on outside of the classroom walls.  I realized that I had to commit to getting outside at least once a day at recess and lunch.

What a difference.

When I am outside, the kids are excited to see me. They run by and say hi, or they walk around with me and we chat.  I can see what kids are doing, what’s got their attention, and often I can intervene before an incident turns into something more serious.  Being outside, almost all of my interactions with kids are positive.

At the beginning of my career a good friend and colleague (TomSchimmer) told me that “we show value by how we spend our minutes.”  I have done a lot of reflecting on that statement over the last couple of weeks.  By getting out of my office and leaving  the endless email and paperwork I am modelling what I believe is important in schools.

Spending time with kids.



  1. I feel the tug-of-war between “getting outside” with the kids and connecting with staff as well. Both are valuable ways to spend my time. I try to balance it out, but I naturally lean more towards the kids. as a result, i don’t have the connections I would like with my staff.
    Maybe we need to re-frame this with an abundance mentality. The time we spend outside helps us recognize the needs and challenges of our teachers and the time with staff helps us better understand the kids.

  2. Very well said, Darcy. We all got into this business because of the kids, but sometimes we get bogged down in all of the paperwork and administrivia. I try to make it my job to do a ‘walk through’ in every classroom in my school everyday. It is important for the kids to see you, and for you to show an interest in their lives – that’s what the kids need! The number one thing in success is education is the foundation of a strong relationship. If you teach in a school with many vulnerable or ‘at-risk’ families, school becomes one of the most stable things in the lives of the children.

  3. You’re doing a great job.

  4. You’re doing a wonderful job! I will always remember some of my favourite teachers, the really special ones that went out of their way, but I can’t say I ever remember my principal or vice principal coming out to say hi or talk with us. You make a difference and what you do is so meaningful. Coming from someone who needed more of that from teachers and staff when I was growing up. Those kids will go to you if they need to because of it, and that’s why it’s so important 🙂

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