How Can I Help, BEaUtiful?

Two Things: The Hello BEaUtiful MOVEment (HBM) promotes an inner confidence to produce an outer panache that requires everything in our being and space to align with love, the love of our WHOLE selves. Hello, BEaUtiful was created in my 2006 classroom. I requested my BEaUtiful scholars rid our space of all negative self-sabotaging attacks through words, which caused each to degrade and minimize self-worth, and lessen the expectation of completing goals set at the optimum level. The Hello BEaUtiful MOVEment was then trademarked and continues to be utilized in classrooms to exploit the best of self, and commits to strengthening weaknesses. Hello BEaUtiful, beyond the mantra, it is a way of life which deepens this week motif.

As I return to my classroom after winter break, I am noticing how many of my now scholars are trapped in the media's illusion by continually eulogizing unnatural "celebrity" images, while forsaking self. And I get it; we have all experienced the marketing madness programmed in our psyche through sharing, liking, posting, reposting, 24-hour access that feed the masses with what is hot and what is not. But to the contrary, the deeper issue lies with the consistent self-loathing that accompanies the programming. The messaging that extols "You are not enough!" Deeper, the role we as educators play in the self-sabotaging behaviors exuded by our scholars. Educators, I hear you, "Jones, I do not assist my scholars in actualizing those types of feelings or behaviors." Some would even go on to boast in the mere fact of "referencing students as scholars prove the point." But does it? What happens when we as educators, neglect to acknowledge our scholars in the same vein we define ourselves, human. Be honest, have you ever entered work with a short fuse? If yes, did you already have one scholar in mind who you were not in the mood? One of my missions for the second half of the school year is to ensure the message for my 12-14-year-olds I teach is empowering, uplifting, and building. But how?

Second thing:

I often wonder if I am pushing the HBM to its greatest heights for my scholars. Over break, I read Dick Gregory's, "Shame." In "Shame," Gregory explained in grave detail how his teacher reminded him daily that he was not enough by refusing to acknowledge the biology of why he disturbed the class or community. Gregory's noise making, fidgeting/squirming, or his general lack of concentration, led to a punitive consequence, he explained. Gregory's consequence was he was repeatedly relocated to what he called the "idiot's seat" or the "troublemaker's seat. [1]" This seat may have many labels (in today's schools), but the same feeling resides in each scholar who is reprimanded then chided to the back of the room or "away from the community." In my school this seat is labeled the reflection desk, with good intent, scholars should take a moment to reflect on how their actions or behaviors are interrupting their learning and community learning. The scholars should not remain at the reflection desk more than 5-7 minutes (which is a lot of time) if the methodology is appropriately unfurled. However, it is not always appropriately unfurled. Back to the question as mentioned earlier, have you as an educator arrived at work with a short fuse? What scholar did you not have time for on the "short fuse" day? Right there, that one scholar you have in mind is how the HBM can be more effective in ensuring our scholars have the best educational experience. How? I extol Gregory's logic and connect it to Goleman's emotional intelligence theory. (I acknowledge Goleman's approach is a reflection of Mayer's and Salovey's work, and as he built upon theirs I will also add to his). What is the emotional intelligence (EI) theory? EI as defined in Coleman's "A Dictionary of Psychology," is the capability of individuals to recognize their own emotions and those of others, discern between different feelings and label them appropriately, use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior, and manage and/or adjust emotions to adapt to environments or achieve one's goal(s).[2] Just as Goleman broadened Mayer’s and Salovey’s four-branch system to incorporate five essential elements of emotional intelligence. In short, the five elements are:

  1. Emotional self-awareness — knowing what one is feeling at any given time and understanding the impact those moods have on others
  2. Self-regulation — controlling or redirecting one’s emotions; anticipating consequences before acting on impulse
  3. Motivation — utilizing emotional factors to achieve goals, enjoy the learning process and persevere in the face of obstacles
  4. Empathy — sensing the emotions of others
  5. Social skills — managing relationships, inspiring others and inducing desired responses from them

The motivation element can be broadened with more concrete strategies for educators. I would contend scholars who have been traumatized need both logical and emotional factors to be motivated.

Logically, scholars need to know and understand the reason/relevance within motivating factors. My experience would also lend to trust and consistency as additives. Motivation within the motif evolves as the language (verbal and nonverbal) barriers are diminished, the relevancy is actively expressed (verbally and written), and small successes are acknowledged whole class and individually. If we as educators make it our mission to develop the logic component, the motivation would be easier to obtain? I have utilized those above strategies and have garnered motivational success. I will admit building this culture of motivation takes time, consistency, equity, and a gentle tongue. Be aware; a tender tongue does not enable. It does make one conscious of how you commune. Tone carries the same amount of weight as the actual words expressed. Most days, I ask. Hello BEaUtiful, how can I help you be better today? And most days they respond by informing me of what they need.

Educators, if you have comments or strategies to share, please do. Again I am seeking strategies to help alleviate the Dick Gregory sentiment, "I never learned hate at home or shame? I had to go to school or that."

[1] Nigger, Dick Gregory with Robert Lipsyte. New York: Pocket Books, 1965 (12th printing), Standard Book Number 671-7509
[2] Coleman, Andrew (2008). A Dictionary of Psychology (3 ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199534067.