Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Finding Their Greatness

Maya Angelou once said,

"People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

The reality of that beautiful quote is hitting me hard these last few days. We had a district-wide training yesterday on The Nurtured Heart Approach (NHA), and this quote floated around the back of my head all day. Briefly, NHA is a system that allows adults to shape kids' understanding of themselves and teach them how use that understanding to make good life choices. It involves putting all of our energy toward the success of the kids and limiting the amount of energy given to their negative choices. I'm not going to lie, at first, as I sat in that cafeteria, I thought the presenters were full of it - there was no way this would work. You see, in order to successfully use NHA, you have to be able to find a success in any situation. Our presenter told a story about her son to show us exactly how to do this. One day when her son was a junior in high school, she checked his grades. He had a few Fs and two D-s. She was not happy about this and really wanted to just let him have it. Instead, she went home that night and said, "Son, I checked your grades today, and I saw that you have a few Fs and two D-s. Those D-s tell me that you showed up to class and you turned in some work. That tells me you can be responsible, and I appreciate that." 

If you're like me, you're probably thinking, "What? That works?"

Here's the thing though, in that tough moment, she recognized something good he had done. Yes, it seems like a stretch, but it was one thing he was doing right. By emphasizing that right thing and the fact that he was capable of doing that right thing, she was building him up. She was helping him find his greatness. She went on to tell how she continued this process of recognizing the work he was doing, and within three weeks he had moved those grades up to As, Bs, and Cs. 

She made him feel good. She made him feel worthy and loved. That made a difference in his life. What a powerful tool!

That just scratches the surface of NHA, and I'm still learning about this process. I have no proof that it works. I haven't had the chance to apply it yet. What I do know is that if I have the chance to impact a child by helping him see his greatness, I'm going to do it. 

I want my students to leave my classroom feeling like they can do anything. I want them to be empowered to make good choices in life, and I want them to have the courage they need to get through it. I know that some of my students come from tough situations. If I don't say something about how incredibly awesome they are, they might not ever hear it from someone else. After participating in that session yesterday, I don't know how I could ever feel good about myself if I let my students go through their year with me not knowing how truly wonderful they are.

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