I had one of those this-is-what-makes-it-all-worthwhile events this morning. Yesterday, I did one of my "classroom visits" (a.k.a., teacher observation) and during part of the class a student was invited to the overhead projector to demonstrate how to solve a problem to the rest of the class (third grade). But as he tried to explain how to do the problem, he got all confused and stuck and couldn't work his way through it.
The teacher, a true professional, asked him: "Would you like one of your friends to help get you unstuck?" "Yes!" was his very enthusiastic reply. He called on a friend who suggested a way through the problem (a way, by the way, that neither the teacher nor I could follow, but which made all the sense in the world according to little kids' logic), and after the suggestion the boy at the overhead projector said to his friend, with full eye contact, thank you, again very enthusiastically. And he solved the problem.
Today I was chatting with this teacher about how much I enjoyed the class and she told me that what I had observed- the student getting stuck, experiencing no fear or embarrassment about being stuck, calling on a friend for help, and enthusiastically expressing his thanks- evolved from her class meetings. She told me that the environment of the class meetings, an environment of support in which mistakes are no problem and we're all here to help each other, has spilled over into everything else they do in school. And then she told me, "You know, knowing how to round numbers to the nearer thousand (the subject of the lesson that day) is really insignificant in the big picture. The important thing was that the kids are learning that it's no big deal to get confused, to make mistakes, because we're all here to help each other and we will."
Is that great or what! I continue to be amazed at the ways that Positive Discipline touches and affects kids' lives, and our (us adults') lives. It's often very subtle, and sometimes we don't even notice the changes, but they happen. I can look at my school and see a place where, by and large, kids are happy, at peace with themselves, getting along well with others, and achieving academically at a very high level. Our teachers experience almost all the frustrations that teachers all over the country face, and make all the mistakes (as do I), but no one's yelling at anybody, no one's losing it, no one's giving up in despair. And Positive Discipline gets a lot of the credit for that.
I think I'll stick around a little bit longer.