Everyone has a light inside them. Nelson Mandela famously urged us all to allow our light to shine strongly and not to hide it through fear. If anyone is entitled to talk in these terms it is Mandela. To be hidden away for 27 years and to come out with a strong light of forgiveness is truly inspirational. May his light of wisdom, humour and love shine on long after his death.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?” Nelson Mandela
When I was a teacher many years ago with a large class I realised that I could see the light in many children but there were at least eight pupils with whom I didn’t interact positively. It wasn’t even necessarily a negative interaction, it was just that I didn’t light up with warmth when I saw them! And yet everyone deserves to be appreciated and respected for their unique talents or quirky personalities. So I was letting the children down. I thought about it for a long time and came up with a strategy called ‘Star of the Week’. A lot of teachers will say they’re doing this – but often it’s only a diluted version – so here is the full bright version!
Star of the Week
The belief driving this strategy is that every child has a right to be noticed and appreciated. Therefore it is not a strategy where children are nominated each week – it is their right to be a star – so their names are drawn out of a box from September to July – so every child knows when their week will be.
Prior to their week of being a star – the teacher creates 3 or positive sentences about the child. Children and other adults are consulted for special things they have noticed about that child.
“We have noticed that you are very helpful with young children”
“We’ve noticed that you have great self control and always stay calm under pressure”
“We’ve noticed that you always have a big smile and a positive greeting for everyone”
This is then written on a lovely scroll, rolled up with a gold ribbon on. In the weekly circle this is given to them and read out to them. They can take the scroll home and they are rewarded a big tin badge saying ‘I Am Star of the Week’. They wear it all week and all adults gently tap the badge and ask “what’s on your scroll”. The child needs to reply in the present tense, ie “I am very helpful with younger children”, “I have great self control” … Academic research has proved that the more a person repeats their positive qualities, the more they believe it and the more their self esteem grows. In addition the positive conversation counteracts any negative labelling this child may be attracting. So the adult who may be having problems with that child is then alerted to the positive qualities as well.
In addition the Star of the Week child gets all the best jobs all week. In my class it was the chance to be my PA. I would come in early and make them a cup of tea and they would have my diary and wrist watch for the week so that they could remind me of all the things that I and the class needed to do! They also liked to water plants, look after the rabbit, wipe the board – the list is endless.
So good luck everyone – shine on with warmth, vigour and rigor!!!
“And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” Nelson Mandela
Website Manager’s Notes
1. We have super new “Star of the Week” stickers hot off the press in our website to really make this initiative work for your class.
2. Our red “Star of the Week” baseball caps too to really mark the occasion.
3. Look out for our new “Star of the Week” tin badges coming your in our new 2014 catalogue! Details to follow.