When I first started teaching art, I was hired to teach two days a week. During this period, I also worked with kindergartners at an amazing after-school program. The program often provided opportunities for professional development. At one point, we learned about the Nurtured Heart Approach, a relationship-focused methodology for awakening the inherent greatness in all children while facilitating classroom success. As part of the training, I was given a handout with a list of words I could use to build my student’s “Inner Wealth.”
I photocopied the list onto a colorful piece of paper and hung it up in my office. When I got my first classroom, I hung the list up and anticipated the words flowing out of my mouth. By posting the list, I hoped the words would take root in my subconscious and that I would use the language more to encourage students to begin self-identifying using positive labels. It has worked, to some degree, but lately I have been seeking a way to use the words more frequently and to create a way to provide this feedback in a more meaningful way.
Then I had an idea.
What if I photocopy the list of words onto Avery Labels and literally labeled students as “kind,” “collaborative,” and “helpful”? I looked over the list of words provided during my Nurtured Heart training and choose a few that I often see, and want to encourage, in my classroom. I have also been thinking of more ways to teach and promote the Studio Habits of Mind, so I added a few words/phrases to the list inspired by conversations I’ve had with colleagues.
I printed 10 pages of stickers and put them in the positive behavior folder that I keep near my door. So far, I have given out a handful of stickers. A few examples include:
“Leader”: One of my students helped explain directions to another student who came in late from working with another teacher.
“Resilient”: A student made a mistake, got upset and started crying. She was really upset, so I had her take a few deep breaths. After she calmed down, she was able to work through her mistake and find a solution she was happy with.
“Helpful”: A student dropped the entire box of thin Sharpies on the floor. Another student helped him pick it up.