How To Create a Culture of Best Friends. Hint: you'll love this sweet secret!
The 7 Essentials: #2 - A Culture of Honor
Have you ever wondered if you will ever stop children from fighting? Candy treats transformed my home from chaos to order and taught my children to be best friends! You'd be so inspired if you could have seen the all out, dust-flying, tumble on the ground fights they used to get into before we built a Culture of Honor in our home.
My kiddos were hyperactive so when I say candy, I mean, micro-bites or whatever sense of normalcy I was fighting for would have been consumed by the fuel of sugar. Micro-bites (like a single skittle) were enough to nurture the desired behaviors of honor that I was after. Teachers can use this same principle in the classroom; just find a different reward if you don't want to use skittles. (They are the most instant form of reward however, if you decide to try the treat route.)
Most of you are aware of the power of positive behavior reinforcement. Championeers! is far more powerful than PBIS
because we focus on the heart issues behind the behavior, not just the actions of a child. This is an absolute paramount destinction if you want to produce true behavior changes and not just reactionary changes. We'll address this more in the Essential Elements 6 and 7, but I'll give you a sneak preview as to why, so you can be aware of this fine line.
Suicide is not reserved for the fringe kids. It also takes our most driven and successful kids with no prejuice. Why? These kids appear to have the whole world going their way? Keep in mind suicide is also the second leading cause of death for adults under the age of 44, many of which are simingly successful. If our identiy is based on what we do, not the intrinsic value of who they are, then our actions define us when they should be an overflow of who we are. Do you see the distinction? Actions without the root of identity leave our children incredibly vulnerable to the circumstances of life and the mistakes they make. When "the good girl" gets pragnant, or the "star football player" loses in his marriage, or the brainiack fails his college "geniouses only" course, then our mind (deceptive as it can be) concludes we are not good enough... and that is the incredible danger of building behavioral changes solely on reward and not as an overflow of value.
With that said, what micro-award can you use in your room to build desired behavior at a heart-level, rather than just on a surface level?
The second building block in the Hierarchy of People Empowerment (RHOPE) strategy, is a culture of honor because children who learn to value others for who they are, not simply for what they do, also learn how to value themselves. It develops awareness for those around them and a core belief system of human value and equality. These children are far less likely to ostracize others and more likely to embrace diversity based on intrinsic worth.
A Culture of Honor answers the question, “Who are we?”This disarms peer pressure because children who feel valued and express value for others don’t feel a need to prove themselves. Both the pressure to “fit in” and the stigma of failure, loses its power over them when their sense of intrinsic worth is reinforced within their "tribe" and the fear of failure is removed.
Your Action Item
Establish a Culture of Honor in your classroom starting with the use of words. Once you get this one under control, expand to another specific issue your students are wrestling with. You can see how much easier this is if every classroom is using the RHOPE startegy to build off the teacher's efforts before you.
Kids are the first to push each other’s buttons and put each other down. It's life's earliest arena of survival of the fittest. Pour out affirmations on your students to reinforce the security of knowing they are approved of so they don't feel the need to verbally establish their rank in the hierarchy of your classrooms social order.
"It's your praise that carries the power
not your nagging."
Your example of praise teaches students how to honor others. It's a learned skill that must be practiced until it becomes a habit. This will take some time, but as you draw new boundaries you will see the atmosphere of your classroom change from disrespectful to respectful, and from harshness to kindness.
Did I mention, this can take some time?!
Kids are the masters of put downs but when you step in and say, “Uh, Uh, we don’t do that here. We only say nice things.” It establishes an expectation and a boundary. (I know you are rolling your eyes right now... like that's going to stop the bullies. This is just one piece of your strategy, but if you don't say it over and over and over and over, your students won't associate the other pieces with it.)
I encourage you not to focus on how to stop the harsh words as much as how to reward the kind words. When my kids were growing up I gave a single skittle as an “Awesome Award" when a child reported one of their siblings doing a kind act or saying a kind word to them. Both children received a skittle, one for their kindness, the other for appreciating and acknowledging it.
It’s amazing how many nice things children can do when they get candy for it. I know it was mostly fake when we first started this, but in time, those acts of kindness became natural, sincere responses. Can you create a different kind of "Awesome Award" in your classroom? How about stamps in a kindness book, and when it's filled your students get an extra privledge or treat or activity? How about "Awesome" tickets that are passed out by any staff member whose notified of an "Awesome Act of Kindness"... one for the giver, one for the receiver. These can be redeemed at the end of each week for something in the principals treasure box? Keep it simple so you can follow through indefinately and don't underestimate the long-term value of this strategy to become a cultural norm on your campus.
Final Important Note: Each time the reward is given, be sure to give praise that points to the heart-condition of the action, not just the action. Ie, "Suzie, I love how kind you are. Your words of encouragement mean so much to others." Notice the distinction between the identity of the child as being kind and their actions of kindness.
In contrast, here is an example of correction. "Suzie, we don't use harsh words here. That's not who you are. Next time stop, think about a way you can share what you want with kind words. Let's try it again." Have Suzie restate her request nicely even if you have to feed the words to her. She will eventually get it, and the child on the receiving end will also learn how to communicate with kindness. Yes, it's exhausting, and why a school-wide approach is SO wonderful. Start this in kindergarten, remind your first graders, simply reinforce it
in all the other grades.
Together, we can do this!
There are 7 Essential Elements required for children to be emotionally safe. When these are satisfied, your children are much less likely to succumb to peer pressure because they are empowered with tools to meet their emotional needs. We call these 7 Elements The RHOPE Strategy; Rinehart’s Hierarchy of Peer Empowerment. (c) 2015 Championeers.