Monday, June 8, 2009

Another Teacher Interview - From TEXAS!

Well, it is time to move on. The Cinderella Event is over (until next year at least), although my son (age 3) keeps asking me where all the pretty dresses went - my answer is always, "We gave them to pretty young girls." He likes that, but of course the conversation then becomes about where all these 'pretty young girls' are, and when are they bringing the dresses back. So he seems to be missing all the excitement as much as me!

I have had this wonderful interview from a teacher at a school in Texas for a couple of months. It arrived just before our event, so I had to keep it in the vault. Lynn has spearheaded a dak campaign at her school, Hunters Creek. The stories from her children are absolutely priceless. So I asked Lynn a few questions about her motivations for using the daks, and what advice she might have for other teachers and schools.

1. How did you hear/learn about the dakbands?

I learned about the dakbands this summer while attending the TRIBES Summer Institute in Park City. I always return from the Institute reenergized by all the wonderful, talented people that I come in contact with there. There is always an abundance of professional sharing and networking that takes place. Center Source, the home of TRIBES, gave us all a set of dakbands at the Institute and explained the process. People started exchanging the dakbands immediately.

2. What inspired you to bring them to your school?

Every year since September 11th we have been celebrating PEACE Week at my school. PEACE Week is a time that the entire school reflects on our core values as a community. The morning announcements, school wide activities and classroom activities help the children “put feet” on the things they have been learning about such as acceptance, respect for diversity, and peaceful conflict resolution. Every year I change the theme of Peace Week while incorporating our school theme for the year. The children always receive a token of some sort from one of the school wide activities.

This year our school theme is “Be the Change”. I thought the dakbands were a perfect fit with this theme for PEACE Week. Our Peace Week theme became: Be the Change, Live Kindly, Band Together – a combination of our theme and the dakband motto. The whole premise of PEACE Week was to Be the Change, spread kindness and help stamp out any meanness, bullying behaviors or exclusionary behaviors. It was a perfect fit!

3. What was the initial reception by your colleagues and staff?

I approached our team leaders at a meeting explaining the idea to them. I wanted to make sure it was something that they would support and would not feel like the exchanging of the dakbands would interfere with classroom instruction. They all agreed to make the dakbands the theme for PEACE Week. Because of the cost, we ordered 2 bands for every student on our campus and all staff members. I asked the teachers to act as “spies and detectives” and look for opportunities to award students in their homeroom the dakbands. After the dakbands started, I followed up with lessons in most of the classrooms showing the student the website and teaching them how to register their bands and tell their story. The teachers seemed grateful that I was doing the lesson. I think it helped them understand it better as well!

4. What was the initial reception by the students?

Our students were very excited about the dakbands. They loved the idea of the “kindness tag game”. They really seemed to get even more excited when I showed them the website and how many bands were registered from our school. They enjoyed reading the stories about how kindness was being spread at our school. They really loved seeing the bands that had traveled the farthest!

5. Has the project been successful?

I would say that the project has been successful. Many bands are registered from Hunters Creek. My goal for our campus is that the dakbands continue to be passed among the student body and within families to spread kindness. I have explained to the students that it is the “job” of the dakband to help our school become even friendlier and more inclusive and that it is the students’ job to make sure it happens by continuing to pass the daks! I am encouraging students to spread kindness by keeping the game going.

6. What has surprised you the most?

I have been surprised the most about how many dakbands have been registered. I am encouraging students to continue passing the dakbands until the end of the year. I want students to take the time to go to the website and tell their story!

7. What advice/encouragement do you have for the other teachers/schools that might consider using the bands?

I would definitely encourage them to publicize the program with the parental community. Newsletter articles or email reminders to families would be a big help. The more parents are involved, the more likely they are to encourage their child to register the bands and to continue passing them.
I think a lesson with each classroom explaining the tag game and showing the students the website is extremely beneficial. The website is so user friendly; many students registered their own bands (without adult help) after I showed them how to do it and how to use the website.
We have Morning Announcements that are broadcasted on television daily. To try to keep the momentum going, I plan to do a weekly dakband update and bring in special guests. These would be students that have registered their bands and told their story on the website. I will also do reminders about passing on the kindness and how the dakbands can help our school. I think this type of follow up is crucial to the success of the dakbands. I do not want the dakbands to be another “thing” the students receive and then discard on a whim. I want the bands to have meaning to our school and community.

8. How are you going to choose two students to write a post about kindness and dakbands for our blog?

I will elicit the help of the staff. We have a TRIBES committee on our campus. The purpose of this committee is to promote TRIBES at our school and to focus on the social and emotional development of our students. I will ask the teachers on this committee to help select the students and to help facilitate the writing of the post. I think it would make a great Language Arts activity!

Check out the stories by clicking on Hunters Creek Elementary School under organization on our band numbers on our track your dak page.

This band has six stories attached to it: 47544

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