Bulletin Boards that Build Character

22 Feb

“I like you”
“You’re smart.”
“You’re funny”
“You’re talented.”
“You can do it.”

I say these things to my kids every day. They don’t believe any of it. They are so used to hearing that they won’t be successful, it’s become the only thing they do believe. They’ve been told it so many times that it’s started to make them think that nothing’s worth it. “No one will ever like me. No one cares about me so what difference does it make?” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked one of them where they think they will be in ten years and they’ve either said “Dead” or “In jail”. If that’s where they really believe they’ll be, than I can understand why making a pretty picture seems a little irrelevant.

So how do you handle this? Listen carefully, because I’m about to reveal to you the best teaching advice I’ve ever been given:

“First, get them to do it for you. When they’ve had enough positive experiences, they’ll start to want to do it for themselves.”

Not an easy task though. How do you get kids like that to do anything for anyone? Easy. Show them that you care. Listen when they talk. Shake their hand in the morning. Ask them about themselves. Treat them like adults and not like juvenile delinquents. Once you do that for them, they will do things for you. Just because it’s you. Because you asked nicely. Because you treated them with respect.

I believe this with all my heart. It’s been my teaching philosophy this far and hasn’t failed me once. Aside from living this each day at school, I also think it’s important to create an environment that expresses the same philosophy. Visual reminders are everywhere in my classroom. I make them all myself, too. Laminated, motivational posters from the teacher store are ok for the cafeteria, but for my classroom, putting a little love into my bulletin boards only conveys their messages even more. I call them character building boards, and while the room is full of art information as well, these are the ones that get the most attention.

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