End-of-day energy. Cranky parents. Blatant disregard for procedures. It’s no wonder that school staff dread dismissal duty. And it’s not just because it’s annoying. It’s first and foremost about keeping people—students, staff, and families—safe. Fortunately, there are some folks bringing a little levity to a tricky situation and having great success … even if it means they have to dress like traffic cones.
The reality of dismissal time is pretty ugly.
Dana Childs-Mazzei is the principal at Winchester Elementary School in Winchester, California. She describes her dismissal as a “hot mess.” “We have a small pickup and drop-off loop, so it is problematic and unsafe when cars are parked on both curbs inside of the loop. Each day just before dismissal, I have to go out and ask parents to move their vehicles, which can get a little frustrating.”
At Roosevelt Elementary in McDonald, Ohio, there’s a lot going on. Second-grade teacher Tami Morrison explains, “We release groups of students by how they are going home. We release kindergarten, then students that walk, and then car riders. We have to really work to make sure that our students crossing through the parking lot are safe, so we block the flow of traffic in specific areas during specific times.”
What’s a caring staff member with a sense of humor to do?
According to Childs-Mazzei, this calls for the BIG cone. “I’m 6’3″ without heels so it’s easy to see a six-foot cone walking your way.” Childs-Mazzei added a sign that says “Move” with “Please” on the back. For Morrison, it means donning a hat crocheted to look like a traffic cone.
Where, pray tell, does one acquire a traffic cone costume?
Childs-Mazzei grabbed her traffic cone costume at Target during Halloween and just keeps it in her office. In Morrison’s case, the hat was a gift from her sister. “She loves to crochet and had asked to make me a hat, and she mentioned that she wanted to do something teacher-themed for me.” Want in? We found some easy options on Amazon. Check out this traffic cone hat and this traffic cone shirt.
A little humor goes a long way.
The best part of all of this is that it totally works. Childs-Mazzei shares, “When I walked up to the driver’s side window and flashed my signs, rather than being ignored or yelled at, parents just laughed and moved along.”
According to Morrison, “Students and parents find it hilarious. I’ve gotten so many positive comments. It makes staff members laugh when they see me coming down the hall at dismissal too. My principal knows I take dismissal traffic seriously to keep our students safe (I’ve had a few close calls with cars backing out of spots a bit too early!), so he appreciates the extra addition of the hat to help me monitor it every day. It honestly makes that little ‘duty’ I have just a bit more fun!”