Sunday, April 28, 2013

Practicing Personal Excellence Qualities

      One of the strongest concepts that I’m using this school year because of EFL has been the ‘personal excellence’ qualities.  I’ve tried different approaches to help my students build a strong foundation in the many universal principles that make human beings reach a higher potential.  Qualities such as kindness, compassion, love, courage, respect, patience, positiveness, helpfulness to name some of my favorites.  My latest approach has been to work together with each individual class on one particular quality per month.  I went ahead with this idea after reading another EFL blog by the Living Wisdom School teachers in Nevada City. See the link below.
 Sharing Harmony with Teenagers–A Game

    I had both my morning class and my afternoon class list some of the qualities that they had personally been working on.  Then we voted on one quality to work on as a class for a whole month.  Each week they work on their chosen class quality and write at least three example of how they used that quality in their composition book.  We get together and share our experiences once a week.  We share in different ways at different times, either in small groups, as a whole class, or both.
    For example, for April my morning class picked ‘respect’.  I asked  them to define ‘respect’ in their own words.  They came up with, “You should treat others the way you want to be treated.”  We also looked it up in the dictionary and found synonyms like consideration and appreciation.  Some of the examples of how they have practiced respect have included
respecting their environment by picking up garbage and helping to clean up their school,
respecting their parents when they are on the phone by not interrupting,
respecting their dog by not forgetting to feed it.
    The afternoon class voted on the quality of ‘being positive’.  Again they came up with their own definition like “seeing the good in things” and “confidence” which was pretty close to the definition that we found in our dictionary.  There were many examples from my physical students about playing a game in their chosen sport where their team was losing and they did not give up and kept going.  Some won some lost but they all agreed they felt better because they knew they tried their best, stayed positive and they didn't give up.  My favorite example was from one of the physically biggest boys in class who came up with such a feeling example.  He said, “I practiced being positive this past week when my grandmother passed away.  I chose to not be so sad and I thought about all the good times I had with her.” 
      I also asked them the other day, as we looked at our ‘Personal Excellence’ board,  “Can you think of anyone that you know or have learned about that could possibly have all of the personal excellence qualities on our board?”  I loved their answers!  The first girl said, “God!”  Another said, “Moses!”  (We are studying the Hebrews and Judaism in Social Studies.) Yet another said, “Martin Luther King Jr.”  More than one student said, “My mom!”

    It’s an honor to learn and practice these qualities along with my students. 

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