On August 19th, 14 dedicated teachers, 3 super-star paraprofessionals, and a mental health clinician joined Assistant Principal Damon Hargraves and myself as we visited the homes of all 435 students in our school! We originally got this idea from the1199 and added our own Kodiak twist to it.
It was amazing.
We wanted to make sure that every student had a positive interaction with an adult before school started.
There was a little surprise and skepticism that we could actually pull it off, but I knew we had enough dedicated staff to be sure we would make it happen.
We delivered planners, a bookmark, and a ticket for a free smoothie on the first day of school if kids answered one of four questions.
Take a look at our facebook page to see some of the positive feedback we got. Students and parents alike were very happy to see us. Many people commented that they saw us out and about.
We let people know about it by creating a communication calendar. We used social media, a presentation to the board, and an all call to make sure the word got out. The school board supported the idea.
Normal civilians are not allowed on the Coast Guard base without an escort. Thankfully, we had two teachers who are Coast Guard dependents who volunteered to be the escorts for me and Mr. Hargraves. We notified the CO of the Coast Guard early on to make sure we would be able to come visit, and they were very supportive of the visits.
Oh, man, this was crazy. We had to figure out how to visit 435 homes with limited staff and a largish geographical area, including a Coast Guard base.
We worked with our student information system managers to export a list (CSV) of students from the system which included:
- Student name
- Zip code
- Phone number
- Dad name
- Mom name
We added a couple checkboxes to the end to track if the student was home or not.
After the export was completed the information manager for the district found a way to place all the students’ names on a map on Google Earth. It was amazing. Sadly, the file got corrupted, and we had to start that process over. We used a web site called batchgeo to do the same thing. The free version is limited to 250 addresses, so we had to run two of them. When you download a map for Google Earth, you need to place a “kml” in the URL after the /map/, as seen in this support article. This was difficult to find, but eventually we figured it out. We just opened up that file, and it overlaid on the map in Google Earth.
There was a problem with the output file in that it didn’t have the addresses labeled on the map. What I mean is there weren’t student names visible on the map. To rectify this, I opened the KML file in TextWrangler and did a find for:
and replaced it with:
The only way I knew about that was because I compared the code between what the information manager had done with a non-corrupted KML file he had sent earlier said and what the one said that we downloaded from geobatch. #pointStyleMap for the win!
Once we had a map with marks for all their houses, and student names visible, we took screenshots of what we thought would be good routes and printed those out for our teachers to carry around with them.
After all the routes were printed out, we had to arrange the students. We went back to the spreadsheet and and added a column that designated route. Damon took the map, and typed the names into a Google Doc, while I had the Google Doc open behind the spreadsheet and searched for the student names, and added the correct route to the spreadsheet for that student. What? Are we crazy? Yes. Yes we are! At first Damon was reading the names to me, but it went much faster to have him type them and we could each go at our own speed. Each route took about 10 minutes to type up once we figured out the right way to do it!
When all the names had a route, we had a few that didn’t show up on the Google Earth screenshot. They didn’t show up because we didn’t know where the address was, or because they were overlapping. So, we just looked at those ~20 addresses and made a call for the route.
Then we sorted the spreadsheet by the route column and made sure every group had a manageable number of students to visit. I think 75 was our highest number of students on a route.
We gave everyone a map with student names on it, their list, and their goodies to hand out and sent them on their way.
All in all, it took 18 adults from 9 am to 2:30 pm to visit all the homes in our district. Organization and effort on the part of Damon and me ensured that teachers got out of the school on time and were able to get to the houses quickly. A couple people finished before lunch, and the rest finished after lunch. The fact that we finished in less than a school day is pretty amazing.
Planning for the future
There are a couple things that would have made things easier. Here are lessons learned:
- Plan earlier - we are going to do this again next year. And, knowing that, we can make some plans beforehand. Teachers will be able to go to kids they actually teach. We would also like to give students their schedules at this time.
- Include more teachers - By planning earlier, we can help teachers know what will be happening before school starts. Many teachers wanted to do this, but were unable because of their travel plans.
- Coast Guard Escorts - next time, we will ask the Coast Guard to supply escorts. They said they would, but I thought it would be easier with our Coast Guard dependent teachers. It worked, but there were a few places that people from the Coast Guard could have helped us find a little faster.
- Provide more goodies/prestuff goodies - it would be nice to have some more fun things to give students, like school supplies, or something like that. It would be especially cool if we could give them some KMS Grizzly Gear. We will have to work on relationships with community organizations to make that happen, probably.
Some good things we did that we want to remember to do next year:
- The day before New Teacher Orientation is a good way to get the new teachers to be able to join in on the fun. I’m glad we did it that day.
- Wearing KMS shirts. All our staff wore KMS shirts and this let the community know that we were out in force!
- Tell everyone. We told a lot of people what we were doing. There was a time that I wanted to forget about it and not do it, because it was hard. But, do you know what? We can do hard things.
- Outreach. Reaching out to our students to say we love you is amazing. We are so glad that we did this. It was not only fun, but very rewarding. We built some great relationships. One student was waiting for us to get there, and was super excited to see us.
Want to see what we did? Here are some uploads: