Thursday, 18 September 2014

Follow-Up on Line-Ups

Today was our annual Community BBQ and I was happy to spend time with current, past and future students and their families.

Several graduates of our school came to help out and it was wonderful to see them helping current students Tie-Dying t-shirts, chowing down on BBQ and running around our tiny school yard.

At the end of the evening, I was walking to my car and ended up on the route of two former students. We started chatting about their experiences in their new middle school. They shared about some things that they are particularly enjoying and other things that they miss.

Because of a discussion that popped up on this blog regarding an earlier post, I was very interested to hear that one of their biggest problems with their new school is hallway behaviour. I kid you not, they said how much they missed lines. They were shocked that their new school has no structure in hallways and expressed that halls and stairwells are noisy and feel unsafe. They were incredulous.

It was interesting to hear their perspective. I hadn't realized how much the lines and calm atmosphere in our hallways and stairwells was appreciated by our students.


  1. Thanks for continuing this conversation, Shauna! I'm going to play Devil's Advocate here & ask a question: do we need line-ups or do we need to establish an environment of respect? When out in public, we all walk around places without lining up, but can still manage to keep that feeling of safety. What if students could walk freely in the hallways without lining up, but know to stay to one side and be aware of the people around them? What would we need to do to create an environment like this? I think of the Grade 1 Social Studies expectations on Rules & Responsibilities, & wonder if there could be a link to these hallway/line up woes. Line ups are particularly problematic for our highest needs students, and I wonder if another option might work. Thoughts?


    1. Hi Devil's Advocate! Thanks for the comments and your thoughts. I agree that respect is the key element here. I know that when I first learned about my former school's adherence to "With All Due Respect" by Ron Morrish. We lived by the principle that students learn respect through routines. I am still thinking about whether that's true or not.

      Rarely in the real world are there so many people going on the same paths to the same places at the same time as in schools. Typically, when that many people gather, there are lines, but generally to wait for a turn.

      I'm remembering the differences in subway etiquette in Tokyo and Beijing. The custom of standing in orderly lines and being patient and mannerly in Tokyo created a safe, comfortable (and remarkably peaceful and efficient) atmosphere on stairs, escalators, platforms and trains in Tokyo. In Beijing, I was surprised at the difference (we travelled from one city directly to the other three summers ago). People were pushing and shoving, there seemed to be no structure and order and it was nerve-wracking.

      I'm not sure what another option to lines in schools would be. Staggered entry would help, but could be a scheduling nightmare.


    2. Staggered entry could definitely help, Shauna, but I wonder if there's a way to teach this respect without lining up. Could students look closely at what line-ups allow for us to have (e.g., order) and look at how students can still move orderly without them. Long line-ups for long periods of time are so challenging for some of our highest needs students. I'm just trying to "think out loud" about other options. Thanks for giving me more to think about!