Nice, Positive and Supportive

Last week I was working with a teacher on Chapter 4 of our school culture framework. The chapter is called: Establishing a Common Language. In this chapter, we guide teachers to use 21st century teaching and learning strategies including inquiry bases instruction.

The main idea of this chapter is to ask students to acknowledge the difference between mean, negative and hurtful behavior vs. nice, positive and supportive behavior. Students are asked to give examples of mean and nice things they have had experience with in their lives.

The Generation Text Online framework guides teachers to role model each of the concepts in the framework as a method of demonstrating their expectations they have for their students. The week before Thanksgiving I was taking part in some classroom coaching and one of the teachers and I were brainstorming ideas of how she could demonstrate nice, positive and supportive behaviors in her classroom with her students.

She decided she would start the following day by giving each student a compliment. In the morning before the students arrived she placed a colorful post- it note on their desk with a personal compliment to start their day with. As you can imagine the students did not even get their coats off before noticing a colorful paper on their desk.

Later that day I reached out to this teacher to ask how the kids responded. Here is the text messages: Me: I love the pictures you sent me of your scholars reading their post it notes. So sweet!

What were your scholars’ reactions? Teacher: They loved it! Except one kid. He said I lied. Then he ripped it up and threw it away.

I was thinking about this scholar all during Thanksgiving break. I think sometimes as adults working with kids we forget about “perspective.” For many of us teachers, our backgrounds consisted of growing up in loving families where we had warm clothes and enough food to eat. Our parents were well educated and supportive of our needs. It is hard to imagine what it would be like to grow up not feeling worthy of a compliment or praise.

This is a real life example of a child living in darkness and despair. Some of our scholars are frightened and hurt. Many of their needs are not being met. As teachers we are charged with the task of teaching a class of students, with the assumption that each student is at the same place academically, socially and emotionally. One of the most important things we need to remember when working with people is that we have to meet each person where they are at.

When I work with educators in supporting them in their classrooms I have to remember that each teacher has different strengths and weaknesses. Each teacher has a different level of enthusiasm. As a teacher of teachers it is important that I remember each teacher needs something different from me. I must remember that in order to best support my teachers, I must meet them where they are at. Generation Text supports school districts with 21st Century strategies and techniques to establish a positive, supportive and respectful school culture. This morning I hope you will do your high lows (Chapter 2 learning activity) with your students in order to find out where each of your students is “at.”

In sixth grade, Sierra received a text message identifying her as the slashed figure in the drawing above.

Jill Brown
Founder and President
Generation Text Online
Phone: 781-820-6629