Monday, May 21, 2012

Thank You Campaign

Reading along the substitute teacher's report, I just couldn't stop myself asking, "Why?"  Here was the incident:  Student A claimed that Student B kicked Student C during recess.  My substitute teacher interviewed A, B, and C.  The interesting comment from C was "Student A barely touched me."  He even didn't seem to care whatever A is complaining about. "So why?"  Don't you think it's interesting to learn how desperately A wanted B to get in trouble?  Would A get benefit from it if B got in trouble?  Why was it so important for A to complain against B while the "victim" C was not complaining.  Why doesn't A leave B and C alone?"  Without solving this psychological mystery, I couldn't start our Monday.  So I threw the topic to the morning meeting.  "I think what you are describing is 'someone minding somebody else's business.'"  Yes, the students knew that concept.  "What are the examples?"  Our list was getting larger.    Yes!  "Why do you think people mind others' business?"  After 10 minutes' of idea exchanges, finally someone stated, "I think some people are seeking attention."  AHA!  Now I got it.  "Do we really have to get attention in the negative way?"  Immediate "NO" echoed from all of the students.   I observed their puzzling expression on their faces was becoming light bulb ones .  That's when I announced about the "Campaign Thank You".  Give attention to classmates by saying "Thank you," so they would feel good each other.  It was the simple enough rule.  I assigned one student to tally how many thank you's their teacher (ME!) make in the morning.

Greeting is very essential in Japan.  In many schools, a teacher and some students stand by the gate, and greet "Good Morning," to coming students.  They even bow.  This promotion is school wide from 1st grade to 6th grade.  When children walk into their classroom, they also greet eachother.  There is unique promotion program which is called, OASIS, オアシス, in Japanese.  オ (pronounce Oh) represents "O-ha-yoh" (Good morning) , ア(pronounce Uh) "A-ri-ga-toh" (Thank you), シ(pronounce shi) "Shi-tsu-re-i-shi-ma-su" (Excuse me), and ス(pronounce soo) "Su-mi-ma-se-n"(I'm Sorry).  Teachers explain to students, "If you do OASIS in our school, you will feel just like being in an oasis.  An oasis is the only spot you can find water in the desert.  You will get refreshed and satisfied.  Don't you want to be a part of team to create an oasis in our school?"  During the OASIS campaign, assigned six graders stand inside the "Oasis zone" in the hallways of the building and in the 1st graders' classrooms to promote school effort.  Six grade leadership is extraordinary in any elementary schools in Japan.  During the lunch time, a student leader announces which grade is doing a great job on their campaign of OASIS.  A principal in my school used to complain that kids don't make eye contact or say good morning.  Yes, greeting is supposed to be a habit, however, if not, we have to do something about it.   A school wide greeting campaign would promote a positive and cheerful school learning community.

"You said 'thank you' 41 times in the morning,"a student reported.  Kids looked at each other surprised. "Wow!" they exclaimed in unison. "That's the amount of positive attention YOU gave me." I said.  The students looked even more proud.  The afternoon task was for the students to use "thank you" among themselves.

At the closing meeting, I asked them, "Did you say thank you more than before?"  There were big nods everywhere.  "How do you feel?"  Student A said, "I felt good when someone said thank you to me."  I facilitated, "Did we prove that we can get attention in the positive way?"  The answer was "YES!"  I am about to ease my thirst with my camels in the middle of desert.