A Day at a Positive Action School

Posted on May 25, 2011, by cody

Carol Gerber Allred, Ph.D., President/Developer of Positive Action, Inc., has sent us this wonderful essay about a typical day at a Positive Action (PA) school. You can learn more about PA on the PNRC website or on the website for Positive Action, a successful evidence-based practice.

It is Monday morning about a half an hour before school starts at a Positive Action K-8 school on Fourteenth and Taylor. Some parents are dropping off their children, a school bus delivers some, and other children are walking to school. They are all looking forward to another week of school. They like their school: it’s a fun, affirming place to be and the learning is great too. They greet each other warmly and, as they enter the school, they say hello to their principal, teachers, and other support staff, who are waiting to welcome them to another new opportunity for learning the basics: what to do to feel good about themselves and to discover even further how they each are uniquely great.

The school bell rings and they are in their seats waiting for the daily announcements. This week Mrs. Brown’s class is giving the word of the week, which happens to be “empathy.” One of the students in the class states the word and the definition while others follow with examples and a role-play.

The teacher starts the day with a Positive Action lesson. The lesson is also on empathy. In a kindergarten class, the teacher delivers Lesson 79 from the teacher’s manual. It has the students repeat the word and definition and then it gives three short vignettes. One is about a boy, Tommy, whose mother is sick and his teacher empathizes with him because he has had a daughter who has been ill. After the vignette, students take turns coming up to the front of the class and standing in Tommy’s footprints outlined on a piece of construction paper and telling how they think he feels. They hear another vignette about Mrs. Brewer who comes home and finds that no one did their chores before they went to school and the house is a mess. Another is Ms. Lee, a kindergarten teacher, who is taking her class on a field trip but she has had a cold and has lost her voice so when her class gets off the bus and start running in all directions, she doesn’t know what to do. They practice empathy by standing in the shoes of each the characters. Five-year-olds have learned and can practice empathy—really!

Down the hall, in fact, down all the halls, teachers are in their classrooms teaching age-appropriate lessons from Unit 4—Getting Along with Others by Treating Them the Way You Like to be Treated. One lesson is on empathy, another is on respect, and another is on kindness. These are just some of the ways we like to be treated. In every class, on a Code of Conduct chart, students list ways they like others to treat them. Everyone likes others to treat them in positive ways. This list becomes their Code of Conduct.

Out in the hall and on the way to recess and lunch, students are treating others the way they like to be treated. Teachers are mingling with the students and they have Words of the Week cards in their pockets. When they witness a student practicing the ways they like to be treated, they take that card out of their pocket and hand it to the student. They tell the student that they saw the student do the positive action and ask that student how he/she felt about him/herself when they treated a classmate positively. The student will reflect and conclude that he/she felt good about it and the teacher will tell the student that the card is a reminder of the good feeling they got when they did that positive action.

In the afternoon, the students are working quietly on a project. They help each other and when someone slips up and makes a mistake, the other students pitch in to help the student get it right. They might also say, “What were you thinking?” because they know that a negative behavior is led by a negative thought and they know that that student won’t be feeling too good about him/herself because you feel negative about yourself when you do a negative action and they want the student to get it right so he/she can get a better feeling about him/herself.

From time to time the students, teachers, or others in the school will also observe a student or someone do a positive action and they will go to the ICU Doing Something Positive Box and write a note about the positive action they saw that person do. On Friday, they will open the ICU Box and read the notes. The students love it—actually so do the teachers, the custodian, the assistant principal, and everyone in the school—because everyone gets recognition for positive actions in the ICU Box.

Today is a special day because it is assembly day and it is fun! Every unit, or seven times, they have an assembly to introduce the next Positive Action unit. They sing the Positive Action theme song, “I Am a Positive Action Kid” or one of the other 26 songs in the program. They perform a skit or two. If teachers believe student should receive special recognition for a positive action that he/she has done, those students receive award certificates. Classrooms that have reached their goal for the number of times they followed the class rules receive a balloon. It is a special moment because there are moms and dads in the audience who will see how positive their children’s school is.

This week is really going to be the best because there is a Family Class on Wednesday night and the whole family gets to go. When they arrive, they each have their own hour-long class: one for children, one for adolescents, and one for parents. At the end of that time, they all get together and review the positive actions they have learned in their respective classes. As they enjoy some refreshments, they talk about how they can do those positive actions as a family. The great thing is that these positive actions are the same ones students are learning and doing at school. It sure is good that mom and dad—and teachers and principals—are talking about positive actions the same way.

And speaking about hearing positive actions the same way, if a student needs extra help, that student can go to the counselor or other school support person for some extra help. The counselor has his/her own manual to guide him/her on how to apply positive actions to more specific needs students might have.

There is one more reason this is going to be a great week. The community is holding a health fair and everyone is invited. There are going to be booths, lots of them. One to measure your height, weight, and girth; one to show you how to make some great snacks that won’t pack the weight on; and races and other fun ideas about how to keep fit. All of these super ideas are right out of the Positive Action Community Kit manual.

Things sure do go better when everyone is working together to do positive actions. Life can’t be beat when everyone is trying to act positively—all day, every day.

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