| Coordinator of Instructional Technology for Clovis Municipal Schools, Cindy Kleyn-Kennedy writes an education column, published weekly by the Eastern New Mexico News and featured on www.clovis-schools.org.
CAPTURING KIDS’ HEARTS
by Cindy Kleyn-Kennedy
January 12, 2018
One of the great challenges in education remains effectively reaching students, whether in rural settings or inner cities. Our youth face great challenges these days, perhaps more than ever before. So many factors impact the ability to learn; the breakdown of the family, social pressures, or endless other distractions. One thing we do know: unless we’re able to build relationships based upon trust with our students it will remain difficult to reach and teach our students.
Taking this into consideration the Clovis Schools is always looking for creative solutions to improve education. With that in mind, Mitzi Estes, Executive Director of Instruction for the Clovis Schools, recently described a new program.
The first two days teachers return from the holidays, before classes resume, are set aside for professional development and workdays. This past week a group of 50 middle school staff came together for a training called, “Capturing Kids’ Hearts.” A number of schools throughout not only our region, but across the nation have undergone this training, whose motto is, “If you have a child’s heart…you have a child’s mind.”
Estes described the experience: “We’d heard about the program and its positives and have been looking at it over the last couple of years. We know many other districts have been doing the program for a while with great success, and we looked into it.”
It was decided to start an implementation with the middle schools and branch out from there. The program’s proven track record has been shown to improve student performance and attendance; reduce discipline referrals; increase graduation rates; and improve teacher retention. There is an emphasis on affirmation in the process of relationship building, supported through strategies and methods taught in the training. Not surprisingly, the process results in creating positive school cultures, improving relationships among staff as well.
There is no magical secret in play. The precepts are straightforward and clearly identified: integrity, trustworthiness, honesty, confidentiality, acceptance, joyfulness, loyalty, and service. What is key is using specific strategies to deliberately address each of these with transparency. While all of these are common sense, it’s important to have specific tools and tactics as well as the knowledge to know how to effectively apply these.
One teacher leaving the training, while preferring not to be named, enthusiastically endorsed the experience: “This is not only going to change my classroom but my personal relationships as well!”