By: Christine Olding
If you remember, a few weeks back, I wrote a blog entry depicting the new behavior initiative that we were going to implement at Hamilton STEM Academy. That behavior initiative is called 50 Acts. It is meant to help the most behaviorally challenged students in school to become leaders within their school and community. Each week I meet with six differing students and discuss differing ways to handle the situations they face and also, their emotions. I do that in a variety of ways, but I have found that simply having basic discussions works best with the group of students I work with. I, also, ask each of the students’ one act of leadership they have done that week. It can be something as simple as saying “Thank You”, to as complex as, a detailed story of they helped a member of their family. Each week brings new stories and new challenges. Here is a walk-through of a typical meeting my 50 Acts group.
I go to get my group of students every Wednesday at 12:20 P.M. From that time until 12:45, we eat our lunches and talk. I start out each meeting of, “Miss Christine’s Secret Lunch Crew”, by asking them their act of leadership for the week. It always amazes me how eager each student is to tell me what positive things they have done that week. Some of my favorite acts of leadership that have occurred within my group consist of moments when my students have helped out other students in their school. From helping prevent a fight to helping them with their homework; it truly is outstanding how helpful these deemed “bad” students can be. It shows me that with a little bit of guidance these students really can be outstanding citizens.
After we discuss the differing acts of leadership each of them has done that week, we move on to the topic of that week. Upon first starting my group, I used to have them play interactive games, but found that they enjoyed simply talking out their problems much better. It, also, proved to be much more effective. I give them a topic to discuss and they take it from there. Last week’s topic was, “How can I prevent a negative situation from happening?” Each of my students came up with thoughtful and helpful ways to prevent differing situations. They, also, took it upon themselves to ask me for advice about differing situations they currently are facing and what to do.
The one thing I find most fascinating about my 50 Acts group, is how their school ideals and home ideals conflict at a very alarming rate. Though, they know what the right thing to do is, they find it difficult to extinguish certain situations because of things they have either learned or been told at home. When that is brought to my attention, I do my best to try to explain how acting one way at home might not be an okay way to act at school, “At home, your boss is your parents, at school your boss is your teacher, the principal or any other adult you come in contact with. At home you have to listen to your parents but at school you have to listen to what the adults at school ask you to do”. Despite the fact that every week I have to remind my students of the above fact, it has proved to be beneficial. Though, some of my students are still reprimanded for certain bad choices, they have really begun to improve in the behavior department. I am truly proud of each and every one of my students progress.
50 Acts was created to help the students that most people have given up on, the students who have been deemed “lost causes”. However, every week I am shown how helpful, thoughtful, and caring each one of my students can be. By just taking the time to listen to each and every one of them, we are truly making an impact of mass proportions in their lives. We are giving them something that they are not used to; we are giving them a chance to succeed.