It’s easy to notice the things that people do that bother us. We don’t even have to try. When someone behaves in a way you don’t like, it draws your attention and drives you crazy. It’s easy to let this stuff take over your day and quickly become a bit of a grump! On top of this, we are bombarded with bad news stories on TV and radio and every time we go online we are greeted with something horrific that someone has done somewhere in the world. It’s different than when I grew up. The only news bulletin I ever saw was at 6pm each day and I’m sure that my parents were able to shield me from the really bad stuff by turning off the one screen we had. With the amazing benefit of the instant information we have today comes the downside of not being able to restrict the flow of ‘bad news’ to our children as well as we could before. This isn’t the end of the world… but it’s something to think about.
With this in mind, it’s really important to teach our kids to notice the ‘good stuff’. We try and make this a part of everyday in our classroom. Making the time to pause and notice someone doing something good takes a conscious effort! Like everyone else, I more naturally notice the student repeatedly tapping their pen on the table before I notice the student quietly getting on with their work. By making the effort to stop and publicly notice the positive it slowly becomes part of the culture in our classroom. Doing this at home is even more tricky! In our house it feels like we are ALWAYS rushing off to something and always running late. At these times I still fall into the role of cranky dad… but I’m trying!
This is particularly important for our boys. When you look at statistics around our boys and young men, it’s not great news. Suicide rates are incredibly high for boys and men aged 14 – 35 compared to women and we have all seen data around domestic violence that says that our young men are becoming perpetrators. As a parent of a son AND a daughter I find this slightly terrifying! There’s not a simple answer to these problems but it’s a conversation that we need to keep having.
In our class we attempt to promote a positive outlook in lots of different ways. We try to promote our failures and mistakes as something we do publicly and without shame. This helps to break down the stigma around ‘messing things up’ and creates a willingness for our boys to ask for help and support when they feel like they need it. Another way we do this is by making regular times to formally and genuinely acknowledge people for the good things they do. This doesn’t mean only things like ‘getting a good mark in a test’ but also for trying to improve at something or showing courage and persistence in a tricky situation. As a teacher, this is a pleasure to see!
Our boys have agreed to show you a snapshot of these acknowledgements in the video below.