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Monday, January 24, 2011

School Bell: How many "Atta Boys" do YOU give???

I have an uncle who was a commander in the Navy for years, including commanding an aircraft carrier.  Although he had a great sense of humor, he knew that being in command required discipline, judgment and perspective.  He taught me his professional habit of keeping two files at all times to keep him headed in the right direction.  One he labeled "Atta Boy" and into it he would put all commendations, letters of thanks or congratulations, celebrations, etc.  The other he named [forgive my typing] the "Oh S%$#T" file. Into that file he would place all the complaints he received about his work, his decisions, etc.  Knowing the realities of human nature, every time he placed a new item in the "Atta Boy" file, he would reach into the "Oh S%$#T" file and remove four or five. Following this pattern, as long as the files stayed reasonably equal he considered he was doing ok.

As a teacher, I prized the occasional "Atta Girl" note.  It always boosted my spirits, my energy, and my patience. When was the last time you jotted a quick note to a teacher complimenting a lesson topic, thanking for accepting a late paper, for giving extra help, for modifying an assignment, for anything? When was the last time you complained about something?  How is your ratio of "Atta Boys" and "Oh S%$#T"s?  I even found a site that sells a pad of check lists for giving High Fives in a hurry! We often wish teacher's would spend more time praising the children.  Consider how it might change the climate of your child's classroom if there were more praise to the teacher. 

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