Teaching People, Not Subjects


On Tuesday, the day before our students returned to campus, Mar Vista teachers gathered for a morning of learning, sharing, and bonding over Positive Discipline. The purpose of this training (picked back up from last year and fitting well with our recent and continuing mindfulness professional development) was to build upon the already dynamite social and emotional feel at Mar Vista to continue building a community where all students feel cared for, loved, and connected.

Jane Weed was our fearless leader. She is not only a certified Positive Discipline Associate Trainer but the president of the Board of Positive Discipline Community Resources, a new nonprofit in Santa Cruz. Here’s a snippet of the fun and challenging hands on exercises Jane led us through:

  1. The Right Family: Jane asked us to stand in a circle, each holding a piece of candy. She read us a blurb about the Right Family who makes many left turns. When we heard right we passed the candy right and when we heard left we passed the candy left. Let me just mention that every other word was right or left! After reading she asked questions about the content of the text she had read.
  2. The No/Yes Game: Jane asked us to close our eyes. She did not tell us what was going to happen. Then she said “No” for a good thirty seconds. Next, she said “Yes” for the same amount of time.

Some key take-aways from the first exercise were that we only listened for left and right and therefore could not answer most of her questions at the end around content and details. Many of us (my side of the room) just stopped passing our candies completely! This really showed us all that how the ways in which we set up processing time for  students is key- we need to be aware of the state of the mind of the student as well as different learning modalities and pacing.

Turning to the second exercise, feelings of tuning out, tension, cringing, laughter as a way to cope, and wondering when it would be over, all came up with the repeat of “No”. Listening to “Yes,” on the other hand, we felt relief, relaxation, openness, calmness, and a general gentleness with ourselves. We all came away more aware of what was happening in our own brains and bodies and how we intend to create “YES” classrooms. When people feel belonging and significance it encourages participation. For example, bringing it back to the kids and asking them “What would help you . . . ?” is a wonderful way to connect and receive real, effective feedback as adults.

All in all, it was a great first day back connecting and gaining resources and tools to connect with each and every student!

For more information about Positive Discipline please visit their website: http://www.pdcrcc.org/

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