Good Energy for Grownups: All In! — Appreciation and Reflection Page
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Learn about the different ways to model appreciation and reflection for children and students of all abilities, presented by Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools (R).
[MUSIC PLAYING] Welcome to Good Energy for Grownups-- All In with Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools. I'm Tajha, a former US youth ambassador for Special Olympics North America. Today, we're discussing appreciation and reflection with some special guests. Hey, Kaleigh. Can you please introduce yourself, please? Of course. I'm Kaleigh Gardner. I am a former middle-level educator focusing in literacy and special education, and I am currently the education advisor for Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools. Sophia, can you please introduce yourself? Sure. I'm Sophia Arnold. I'm a high school special education teacher. I teach students with a range of intellectual disabilities. I'm a GoNoodle teacher ambassador and a mom of four beautiful children. How do you define and explain appreciation and reflection to children and students? Appreciation, I think, is just recognizing the value in something or in someone, realizing the importance. Yeah, I would agree. And for me as a teacher, I'll say the same, except with modeling, like you said, through our actions. So an example is thank you for holding the door. Make sure you say thank you to your classmates. So I just think being very mindful of showing those specific examples. And for toddlers when you're giving them something, say, thank you. You're welcome. So then they'll begin to repeat it and model it. So through actions and words. What was the other one, reflections? Yes, reflections. This one's also kind of tricky because I just want to say it's when you reflect. I want to use it in its definition. But I think, simply, it just means to think back closely and intently. Just like, what could I have done different? And you can do that as a simple think-aloud with students. If we see that most of the class made a mistake, hmm, and just be very dramatic, hmm, to show what thinking looks like. Or up here for the smaller kids to show that you're thinking, like, what could I have done different to get a different result? So what is the best time to discuss the terms with students, parents, and children? Well, again, the earlier, the better for any of these important topics. But I think appreciation, a great way to tie it in is utilizing one of the many appreciation days, weeks, and months throughout the year. I think just really being purposeful of like, well, why do we have these days or these weeks? What does that tell us about this person, this occupation, this identity, this group? How can we model this appreciation? What have we learned from it? So being very, very explicit. Moving beyond just, I'm going to write a thank you card or an appreciation sign, but really diving into those discussions. I think one thing with that is it needs to be intentionally provided, like maybe carving out that time after a class project or a group project. We can actually call it DEAR time-- Drop Everything And Reflect. I love that. Yeah. And during that time-- The new DEAR. Yeah, I'm big on timers. So during that time, we can set a five-minute timer, OK, we're going to draw or write how our day has been, how do we want it to continue, and our end result, what do we expect-- how do we expect to feel or look by the end of the day? So just giving them that time and-- That makes it very sensible. Yeah, just a DEAR time-- Drop Everything And Reflect. Do you use affirmation? And how can affirmation help kids reflect and appreciate themselves and each other? Do you use affirmation? For sure in the classroom, of course. So we do, I am smart. I am different. I am unique. And we just break down what each of those mean, and it just helps students develop some sense of I am different. I love being different. You are different. I love you because you are different. I like you because you are different. It just help them accept their uniqueness, and it also helps them to be kind to others. Yeah. I think that's really important. I think affirmations have this incredible power to rewire our brains and our thought process. So many times we have these intrusive and negative thoughts throughout the day. And if we can start with affirmations and modeling that for students, we can replace those negative with a positive. And I think, what you said, that would just almost recreate the social norms of a classroom in a school, and, in the end, create such a more inclusive and empowering environment for themselves and for everyone. Yeah. What about you? Do you use any positive affirmation? I do. The Special Olympics athlete oath, it says, "Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt." I remodel this every morning when I wake up, even when I'm in a bad mood. And I'm, like, you know what? Today's just not a day. I don't feel like I'm worthy or I don't feel like I'm enough right now. And this even goes for smarter kids. Some days they're throwing-- they're throwing tantrums or they don't want to be around people or they're just having their little moments. They want that time, and they need that time. And then that's when the parents need to step in and be like, hey, you're worthy. You're loved. I love you. And so when I think of the Special Olympics athlete oath, it just brings to me all the comfort and knowing that, hey, yeah, today might not be a winning day for you, but let's make it a winning day. You just gave me chills because it really is, like, just being brave and trying. And I think as educators and as parents, we can support our students in doing that. What should be the takeaway from this conversation? I think intention for both-- well, for all parents, teachers, and students, that's the key. I think we need to be intentional with our time, setting aside that time and knowing that I'm worthy enough of reflecting so that way I can become better. We can improve. We can grow. And also, just letting our appreciation shine. And I just think it's so important for students of all abilities to know that their abilities are valued. They are important. This is what you can do. Let's stop focusing on the can't. Let's start pointing out the can. This is what you can. And it's going to start with those affirmations with the modeling and giving them the safety to do so. [MUSIC PLAYING]