How do you create all-school messages that work well for your school community?
Chris Dodge, principal of Fayston Elementary School in Fayston, Vermont, writes an all-school message every day. “It’s the first thing I do when I come in,” he says. “Sometimes I’ll write a couple days’ messages at once, but not more than that—I’ve found they lose their immediacy if I do them too far ahead.”
A: Because Fayston is a preschool to sixth grade school, I always include a visual in the message so that children who aren’t reading yet will have something to look at and think about. I also vary how I write the message, sometimes using large letters and simple words, and sometimes using more text and higher level vocabulary.
Students get a kick out of it—I’ve heard them say, “Look, it’s a kindergarten message today!” Such observations help the childrenappreciate how reading and writing skills change as they grow, and also remind older students that younger children mayneed their help with reading what I wrote.
Maureen Mulderig is the principal of Walberta Park Primary School in Syracuse, New York. She writes a new all-school message each Friday afternoon and then displays it in the main lobby for students, staff, and visitors to read throughout the following week.
A: I try to keep my reasons for doing an all-school message in mind each time I write. I decided to start writing all-school messages around the same time many teachers at Walberta began writing morning messages for their classrooms. I saw it as a way to support their work and to learn alongside them.
My written message at the main entrance welcomes everyone who enters the school, just as morning messages do for students in their classrooms. The all-school message also makes a strong statement about the importance of literacy in our learning community. When a district committee came to assess the “literacy landscape” of our school, they immediately noticed my message by the front door!