We have been building our R Factor behaviors in Hilliard City Schools for several years. My staff and I have been extremely intentional about teaching these behaviors to our students. This year is our second year of R Factor student training. As a building principal, it is fascinating to see how this training has impacted the culture of our school.
On Wednesday, two second grade boys were sent inside from recess because they were pushing each other and acting all around Below the Line. I began speaking to the boys and had to take a moment so that I could press pause and get my mind right. In my very brief moment of pause, I was able to think clearly about the outcome that I wanted the for this situation. It wasn't that I wanted the boys to be in trouble or lose recess. What I really wanted was for them to act Above the Line at recess so they could have a fun time with their friends. Even though I had taken time to get my mind right, I was still surprised by what came out of my mouth next. I looked at both boys and in my best "disappointed principal voice" I said, "Well, this is on you, you own your 20 square feet so I'm going to ask you a question. Do you want a consequence for your behavior or would you like to accept a challenge?" Very quickly each boy said, "A challenge!"
So, I talked to them about their impulsive Below the Line behavior. We discussed what it means to be on auto-pilot. They agreed that their behavior fit the descriptions. Then we talked about what it means to be intentional and on-purpose. They easily rattled of many on-purpose behaviors that they could have participated in at recess. So, then, I gave them their challenge. I challenged the boys to go to recess the next day and make on-purpose, intentional decisions to be Above the Line. They eagerly accepted this challenge and happily headed out the door.
The next day rolled along as usual and to be honest, I'd forgotten about this challenge until I say two red-faced, sweaty seven year olds appear in my office at 12:45 to give me their recess report with big grins on their faces. I brought the boys into my office and called their teacher in to join me. The boys could barely contain their excitement as they shared all of their Above the Line behaviors. I'm sure you could imagine what they said. But the rest of the story is even better. Their teacher and I asked them how they felt after having such a positive recess. These two out of breath little boys explained how happy they were and that because they were Above the Line, they noticed their friends were being Above the Line, too! Next, we talked about R6-Build Skill. The boys quickly realized that the skill they were building was being positive leaders. They decided that they wanted to try this again and continue to report the impact of their Above the Line behavior.
My challenge to my staff and to myself is to continue to think about the OUTCOMES that we hope for when we are presented with EVENTS. Then, press pause and get our minds right so we can choose the most Above the Line R for the situation.
What if we give more children recess challenges? How would that change the culture of our playground?
This experiment proved that when children are INTENTIONAL about their actions they can and they will make the Above the Line choice.
I hope my blog posts inspire risk taking and new ways of thinking. I hope to connect with other educators on our journey to always do what's best for children.