Friday, February 6, 2009

Weekly update: School Operation NICE project

Operation NICE has made my school a fun week. The following are a few emails to/from Melissa of Operation NICE to tell her how the project is going. Sorry, can't post pics of my school or kids:

Greetings, Melissa,

I would like to tell you that Day #1 of Operation Nice started quite nicely. We introduced the idea a wee bit and will give them a little more each day. I filled a fish bowl with strips of daily Nice assignments and will pull one out each day of February. Today's assignment was "Tell someone they look nice today." I wasn't sure how all of this would go over, but I was warm-the-cockles-of-my-heart-pleasantly-surprised. I walked by one of my eighth grade girls in the cafeteria and she said, "Hey, Ms. D-M!" I turned to look. She smiled sweetly and told me I looked nice today. I gave her a big hug not because she said it to ME, but because she was promoting Nice and got a kick out of it. She was only the first of quite a few kids I caught in the act. It was fun. During second lunch, I made an announcement over the microphone---"Hey, 7th and 8th graders! Have I told you how nice you look today?" This brought on an outburst. They all "got it" which meant they were paying attention to announcements this morning :-) and they carried on with it, too. What a kick. I think one part that was the most fun today was being able to say it back to them and watch the smile light up their faces.

I hope you had a wonderfully Nice day.

Jan D-M

***********************************

Melissa,

Day #2 of Operation Nice - today's assignment: Hold the door open for someone. You even said that in the video! After Live Announcements today, I went around school posting the assignment of the day (I'll be sending you pictures eventually). I had the messages translated into Spanish and was posting them up by the classrooms for Beginner English kids. I heard a boy's voice speaking in Spanish. Now, my Spanish is limited, but I do recognize "la puerta" (door) and "Miss!" (sounded like 'meece'). I turned to look and found one of our Hispanic boys holding the door open and gesturing for me to come in (exaggerate the gesture here). He smiled at me and I just kept exclaiming how sweet he was. Then, a classmate of his came to the door to enter the room. The first boy wouldn't let him in. He held up his hand as if to say "halt", then he closed the door. Right away, he opened it again, gestured for the boy to enter and said, "Bienvenidos!" (Welcome). Again, he gestured for him to come in with a little bow and a slow pass of his hand. He did the same thing for his teacher when she got to the door--held up his hand to stop her, closed the door, then opened it again. The teacher enjoyed it just as much as he did. You could see he was receiving as much in the doing as the others were. It was so much fun. I was tickled pink.

You know, the kids feel a little embarrassed to do these things because they are afraid of not looking cool. But, they ARE doing the assignments, they just do it in a goofy way to cover it up. I think it makes my heart happier because they are taking a risk, even if it is disguised.

*********************************
Greetings, Melissa,

I am pumped to show your video greeting tomorrow!

Day #3, Operation NICE:

As I was walking down the hall this morning, fishbowl filled with assignments in hand and headed for Live Announcements, a young girl I didn't know (she's a 7th grader and I'm with the 8th grade this year) shouted, "Hey, Ms. D-M! Can I draw the assignment today? I just smiled, gently grabbed her wrist and whisked her away down the hall. "Really?" she asked, "I can do it?" Yup. Maybe this was a kid who isn't involved in activities that might get her on air, so it was fun to let her do this. The assignment--Create a Love List about yourself. This was one of the three Love List assignments in the fish bowl and the one I was most concerned about students rejecting. I came prepared, though. I had printed out the Love List that you wrote about yourself, so I read parts of it so they would have an idea of what I was asking. I ree-e-a-lly wanted the kids to have a chance to do this. It is SO important for kids to recognize and love their gifts and beauty and talents before they can more fully love others, you know? It's so important, but it is hard, hard, hard to do it sometimes. Anyway, I cut paper into fourths and brought them down to the cafeteria. Once again, I got on the mic and said, "Hey, everybody, I'm looking for volunteers. I need people to make some Love Lists about themselves. You don't have to do it, but I'd really love it if some of you did." I was able to do this over three of the lunch periods and had a really great response. The kids really enjoyed it and took it seriously. Some are very sweet and tender, others are funny. I intend to post them up near the offices so kids can read them. There is just no extra time in the day! Again, I promise to get some pictures when I have some down time.

On the way back to my office, I stopped by one of our classrooms for special needs kids. This particular classroom of students are more moderate to severe special needs. As I walked in, a student said something to me I couldn't understand. I thought she said I was nice. Her teacher told me that she was saying, "Make a Love List." Aww. She understood.

Day #4 - Operation NICE:

My practicum student and I were headed once again to Live Announcements, fishbowl in hand. I got an idea as I walked down the hall near the special needs classroom. I stopped in to see Whitney taking off her boots and putting on her pretty pink and white tennies. After a quick whisper to the teacher, I asked Whitney if she wanted to be my helper on Live Announcements today. "Yes, I wanna be a helper!" So, grinning ear to ear, Whitney walked with us to the camera room. She sat next to me in front of the camera and continued to smile the whole time we waited for our turn. She was precious. The assignment for today--Give a long distance hug. This is my favorite! What you do is cross your fingers (as in cross-your-fingers-for-good-luck), then you wave them a little bit. You should have seen Whitney. She "hugged" everyone as we walked back to her classroom. When she got to the room, all her classmates were standing and applauded and said, "Yay, Whitney!" Butterflies and giggles in my heart.

What I loved most about this assignments is that it was something easy and the kids could do it with a little bit of fun while connecting with other kids. I saw kids doing this all day long. I saw one girl practically do a back flip trying to "hug" a friend around the corner. Each time I saw kids do it, they laughed and smiled at each other. What a blast. They just did it. They didn't seem one bit self-conscious. It just makes me happy. One last "hug" to me came as I was standing in the lobby as kids ran to catch their buses. Several hugs were sent my way. A brand new male substitute teacher was coming down the stairway on his way back to the office. As he walked by me, he wiggled a hug at me. We both laughed out loud and he said, "That is just so cute."

Have a great Friday!
Jan D-M
******************************

(from Melissa)

Hey Jan!

Sorry I haven't written back. I went straight from work to Rent last
night, got home super late, got up super early, went to work, went to
a food show, and just got home. Now I'm POOPED!! But I wanted to make
sure I wrote to you before heading to bed. I'm so excited about the
video tomorrow! I can't wait to hear what everyone thinks. Hopefully
I don't put the kids to sleep with my rambling. :) You are all so amazing
for doing this project. I don't think you can know how proud I am to
be a part of it all. It makes every single minute of time that I've
put into Operation NICE completely worth it.

-melissa

********************************

1 comment:

Dave said...

This is the stuff that warms me to the core. The stuff that affirms my belief in human nature and all the good that is out there.
The stuff that screams to me "see, David, you were right about this planet"

Thank you