Some of the most important moments to manage when you are trying to build great culture are the moments when things are going well.
It’s important to reinforce positive behavior when you see it of course and when you have to make small re-directions to help students keep doing the right things the sooner you can do it, the more positively and non-invasively you can be. When you clear things up before they become ‘a thing,’ you make it feel like a reminder to students. Our phrase for that is Catch it Early. When you see it before it’s an “it” you can steer it in the right direction almost invisibly.
That’s why we love this video of Emily Badillo. Emily here uses “presets”–little moments, each punctuated by the warmth of her smile–that give students a single clear direction to follow in the transition from one step in the lesson to another. They’re not ‘resets’ because there isn’t really anything to fix. They’re a small happy dose of loving prevention. Her attentive use of simple, clear observable directions given in a warm, almost adoring manner makes certain that things stay just as they should. And because she keeps things going smoothly she’s able to reward students right away with real and fascinating content.
Watch this clip from her 4th grade reading group. They’re discussing the Laurie Halse Anderson novel Chains.
Just before the lesson begins Emily sits down. Her face is an adoring smile. Her words are a simple clear direction: “Sit up so straight”–whispered as if a secret. Moments of accountability are ideal for showing warmth and caring, we often say at our workshops. This tiny positive “preset” gets everyone to full attention and then they are off and sailing, into the book and discussing their reflections on the text. [Note the inclusive and positive Cold Call of Brianna.]
A few minutes later after her loving smile shows her appreciation for her student’s comment, she frames a new question. She punctuates this transition with yet another preset: a clear and observable What To Do direction, framed with a warm and loving smile: “Fold it up all the way.” High expectations for full attention, framed in warmth and caring. And off they go again. You’d hardly notice it if you weren’t looking for it.
A few minutes later students are writing. Emily expresses her appreciation for their ideas. Again there’s that glowing smile. And again there’s the simple observable direction–“Put your pencils down”–that allows her to make sure everyone is with her and remind students in the simplest and most positive way to bring their best to the discussion. And away they go [with, by the way another warm and inclusive Cold Call, this time of Iliona.]
The idea here is that she’s using a single What to Do direction, wrapped in the warmest warm strict and done very quickly repeatedly and throughout her lesson to make sure that positive and academic culture endure.