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Juan Pablo Helps Enforce Good Character
By: Second Grade Teachers Melissa Kriegshauser and Maggie Martin
Kindness, one of our four key Rossman rules … What does it mean to you? Webster’s Dictionary defines it as the quality of being friendly, generous and considerate. Kindness, along with the other three Rossman rules, are encouraged in second grade beginning the first day of school. Being kind is a rewarding feeling and a simple act that is easy for people of all ages to perform.
We celebrate kindness in second grade by allowing the children to “catch others being kind.” We call these Kindness Catchers. We have a basket in our classroom for children to write acts of kindness they have witnessed along with their name so we know who caught that special someone being kind. This has been a long-standing tradition in the second grade classroom. At the end of each school week, students’ acts of kindness are shared with the class and rewarded with a Jolly Rancher. This is a very meaningful time in our room for students to feel great about themselves and also feel good about recognizing their friends for doing something kind.
Children sometimes have to be reminded that being kind is more than just lending or picking up a pencil. Kindness is truly showing someone you care and being a friend to everyone, not just expecting a reward.
Our classroom initiative was paralleled at the beginning of the year by the sixth graders’ Kindness project. The older students provided kindness slips to be filled out, later collected them, and then displayed them on a hallway bulletin board for all to see. Students were so proud to see their own as they passed the bulletin board in the hallway!
In addition to building a community in our classroom following the four Rossman Rules, this year we introduced a new friend to help us. He is a colorful chameleon named Juan Pablo. After attending a conference given by Dan St. Romain introducing 10 Simple Lessons for Better Behavior in the Classroom, we were inspired to use Juan Pablo to encourage and support the children as they work to strengthen their behavior.
Each lesson has a colorful card that focuses on a specific social or emotional skill students need for behavioral success in school and beyond. We have really enjoyed seeing the kids get excited when we introduce the next Juan Pablo behavior, and we love seeing the automaticity of the behaviors in the classroom. For example, the first lesson shows an image of Juan Pablo attached to a hand with one finger pointing up. This shows that children should follow directions right away, after hearing them the first time. We repeatedly refer to this picture in our classroom and the phrase, “Follow directions the first time, right away.” This one, along with the other picture card lessons, are often repeated by teachers and students.
A few other favorites are:
- “We take care of others because it’s the right thing to do”
- “When we do the right thing we can feel it in our hearts”
- “Where the eyes go, the brain follows”
- “We pay attention with our eyes and listen with our ears, not our mouths”
- “Raise your hand … no blurtitis”
Coming back from Spring Break was the perfect time to remind the students about being kind and following rules, not to mention reminding them about the reading and math they may have forgotten while on the beach or skiing in Colorado! It seems as though the last few weeks of school can always be the toughest for behavior, so reviewing the Rossman Rules often and referring to our friend Juan Pablo are essential in our classroom.
With these simple, but constant reminders, we are teaching our students critical life skills they will need to be successful in upper school and beyond.
Rossman School, nestled on a 20-acre campus in Creve Coeur, is an independent preparatory school for students in Junior Kindergarten (four years old) through Grade 6. The school’s mission is to provide a strong, well-balanced education in a nurturing school community committed to excellence. Dedicated to developing personal, nurturing relationships with each child, Rossman’s experienced educators provide a solid foundation in academics, athletics and arts while emphasizing strong character development and leadership skills. Request a free Rossman School brochure here.