Learning and teaching

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My current extended-stay teaching assignment is coming to a close. What a journey! I’ve loved the work and the students. I’ve also changed my description of the teacher/student, parent/child interaction from “teaching and learning — adults and children teaching and learning from each other” – to learning and teaching.

This column is Virtues II, in two stories.

Continue reading “Learning and teaching”

The power of positive … speaking

Out the window …

Weather ~ a cool, clear, sunny summer morning

Wildlife ~ the usual ground crowd of gray and fox squirrels, chipmunks and rabbits, with a few cardinals, sparrows, and one chickadee by 8 a.m.

Mood ~ quietly optimistic

                                                             ~ ~ ~

“We have to be so careful with our words,” my sweet older brother said to me years ago. And so began a conversation to mend a hurt feeling from a simple misunderstanding.

There have been many such moments in the years since, with others in the family, co-workers and, worst, with children. Children start life open and tender, and these casual moments of distraction and hurt from trusted adults dent them, close them, train them. We can all do better. I can do better.

The Virtues Project www.virtuesproject.com is an excellent resource for teachers, families, and friends alike. It teaches the importance of, well, speaking grace.

It’s a simple, if not easy, concept, starting with the difference between praise and encouragement. Praise judges — “I like your drawing,” “You look nice.” Encouragement values and affirms — “You finished the whole thing,” “You made your friend feel welcome.” This is where naming the virtues comes in.

Virtues are positive character traits, such as gentleness, enthusiasm, honesty, courage, and more. We can speak criticism – “You’re so stubborn!,” or we can affirm each other and, in the process, start to see each other more positively too – as in, “I appreciate your determination.”

 Is your child taking too long to get dressed, in clothes you don’t prefer? Will you say “Hurry up or I’m leaving you!,” or “I appreciate how you are taking care getting dressed. I do want us to leave on time. Is there something I can do to help?” You’ll both leave whole and calm, no dents.

Extra credit: Try speaking the virtues to yourself. There’s grace for you too.