Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Tuesday Tried It - Creating a Day Worth Living

A printable from Pinterest

I like this printable because I believe it.  It's not an exhaustive list, but it is a very good start.  I have especially seen what #9 can do, for every school day I teach about 100 students that practice it.

Long ago, I attended several how-to-successfully-teach seminars. We were taught that one of the components of creating a safe and successful classroom where effective learning could take place is teaching kids to give and receive sincere “appreciations” to each other. I knew the concept was true, after all Mark Twain said he could live two months on a good compliment, and I also knew the kids wouldn’t learn as well if they didn’t feel accepted. However, I wasn’t confident initiating it among satire-loving, sarcastic teenagers. I couldn’t visualize high school students spontaneously saying heartfelt things in front of their peers like, “I appreciate that Marshall took the time to hold the door open for me,” or “I appreciate the comment that Thayne made,” or “I appreciate how it makes me feel when Sarah remembers to say ‘hi’ outside of class.” But even though I doubted, I implemented the practice upon returning from the seminar and have ever been grateful I did. 

In the beginning there was some awkward silence, followed by stilted attempts to verbalize something positive.  Since I was the safest person in the class to give an appreciation to the students initially focused on me; however, within a short amount of time and lots of opportunities they were able to give appreciation statements to each other fluently. 

Years later students frequently and randomly raise their hand and say, “I have an appreciation I’d like to give to ________” and then continue to tell someone in the class what they appreciate about him or thank him for something kindly done.  The term “I have an appreciation” is almost as common as “I have a question” and I often hear it in their peer circles outside of class as well. 

One morning a mother of one of the students had joined our class.  Her look of mild shock and misty eyes reminded me that what I’ve come to hear as every day normal conversation she heard as something completely exceptional and unordinary. She heard her son’s peers voluntarily say things like:

“I appreciate what a solid kid you are. I can always count on you to live up to what you say.”
“I appreciate your comments. I always learn better when you make comments in class.”
“I appreciate your enthusiasm. It’s fun to be where you are. You’ve made this class fun.”
“You’re unique. You are definitely one of a kind.”

Simply making appreciation statements not only made a safer classroom, it built character. I have watched young people bloom under the rains of appreciation. I remember clearly one young man telling me how he finally began believing in himself when he saw how much his friends believed in him. Another student told the class that he didn’t remember what was said but he still remembers how it made him feel when he received his first appreciation in class. As Charles M. Schwab said, “I have yet to find a man, whatever his situation in life, who did not do better work and put forth greater effort under a spirit of approval than he ever would do under a spirit of criticism.” (Richard Evans’ Quote Book [1971], 171). The schoolyard adage, “Sticks and stones shall break my bones, but names shall never hurt me” is heresy. “Sticks and stones shall break my bones but names may permanently maim me” is more accurate. Appreciations, like milk, build stronger kids.

Appreciations can be shown as well as said.  Here are a few ideas:

1. A happy look or smile, a wink, tear-filled eyes, a hug, a well-placed sigh—all can spell a-p-p-r-e-c-i-a-t-i-o-n.

The District of Columbia police auctioned off about 100 unclaimed bicycles Friday. “One dollar,” said an eleven-year-old boy as the bidding opened on the first bike. The bidding, however, went much higher. “One dollar,” the boy repeated hopefully each time another bike came up.

The auctioneer, who [had] been auctioning stolen or lost bikes for 43 years, noticed that the boy’s hopes seemed to soar highest whenever a racer was put up.

There was one racer left. Then the bidding mounted to $8.00. “Sold to that boy over there for $9.00,” said the auctioneer. He took $8.00 from his own pocket and asked the boy for his dollar. The youngster turned it over—in pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters—took his bike and started to leave. But he went only a few feet. Carefully parking his new possession, he went back, gratefully threw his arms around the auctioneer’s neck and cried.

2. Doing an act of service or a favor can be a subtle way to let someone know they are appreciated.

Clearing the table or helping with the dishes can say, “Thank you for dinner.” Shining someone’s shoes or ironing a shirt can say, “Thanks for working so hard for the family.” Putting away the folded clothes can say, “Thanks for doing the laundry for me.” Bringing lunch back to the office for a co-worker that’s too busy to go can say, “Thanks for carrying your load and then some.”

3. Send an e-mail or write a note.

Last week I received two notes thanking me for something I had done. Those two little notes were timely and gave me courage.

4. A gift or treat

A candy bar tucked in a borrowed pair of shoes or a few pieces of gum inside a book when returned say, “I appreciate you sharing with me.”

When we appreciate and recognize the goodness in others, it's easier to see goodness all around us. Recognizing goodness allows us to trust the love of our Heavenly Father and keep perspective rather than getting overwhelmed and discouraged at all the evil that is also in the world.



Lilly Leonard said...

I can definitely testify of the benefit of appreciations given in your classes. I have a paper with appreciations written from my classmates tucked in an old journal, I can't tell you how many times I pulled that paper out and read it. It is priceless to me. But I can also say how much giving appreciations has benefited me, maybe even more. What a wonderful gift you gave me by teaching me by example. I agree wholeheartedly that that will help you have a good day.

Ande said...

I agree so much with Lily. Appreciations are what made your classes so great.