While middle school can bring with it some unique challenges, it also presents exciting opportunities along the way that just don’t exist in the early years. I was reminded of this recently when a small group of students left me a letter outlining why they believed the “No Hat” rule at Woodhaven Middle School should be removed.
Within the letter the students outlined several reasons they believed it was time to permit hats during school. One which I found quite interesting was their perspective that the first thing they hear from staff upon arriving at school is “Good morning, please remove your hat”. They explained that it doesn’t start the day off on the best foot for them when their first interaction with adults is giving them an “order”.
To further examine the process, I asked these students to come meet with me and discuss. After our conversation, they committed to creating a presentation for our school’s Design Team (a team of teacher leaders that meets to discuss learning within Woodhaven Middle School). About a month later, they came and used this presentation to further their cause.
As you can see from the presentation, the kids made some pretty strong arguments for a reasonable request. For example, they asked “Are hats truly a sign of respect in today’s day and age? ” As I sit here writing this post I am wearing a hat! I’ve had more conversations with parents wearing hats than I can count, but I’ve never asked them to remove their hats.
The design team posed several questions to them, one of which really stuck with me. One member asked if students would take hats off during presentations, to which the student responded “probably not“. When pushed a bit further as to why explained that on our recent career day, one of the Keynote speakers was wearing a hat!
The students did such a great job explaining their perspective that we took the conversation to our entire staff, who after a lot of conversation, agreed that it was probably time to let this outdated practice go. The next step was a conversation with our School Council, where we again shared the student presentation and discussed. We arrived at the same conclusion as the staff had a week earlier.
We have now arrived at the place where students are permitted to wear hats at Woodhaven Middle School. The change to this practice is really nothing worth writing a blog over, but the process of students leading change is one that I am proud of for these students!
Until next time…
Mr. S. Patras
Principal, Woodhaven Middle School