Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Being Proactive in 4th Grade

To spread the ideas in Sean Covey's 7 Habits of Happy Kids, I found a different approach with my fourth graders.  While perusing online I came across Allison's Counseling Corner and a blog entry about how she used a biography to help students connect to the idea of being proactive in our lives.  I liked how she found a book that showed the struggles and obstacles the character had to face in real life.

I decided to read the book Wilma Unlimited written by Kathleen Krull.  In this story we follow the life of Wilma Rudolph as she battles sickness, polio, learning to walk, criticism, and racism to become a successful 3-time Gold Medalist in the 1960 Olympics. 

After discussing the story, we began to acknowledge the differences between being proactive (focusing on what you can control) and reactive (focusing on things you have no control over).  Using Wilma as a model, we could easily see how she didn't let the hardships get her down because she channeled her energy into herself.

Students then thought of ways that they could focus on the positive in their own lives.  What kind of things typically ruin their day?  What control can they have in the conflict?  What do they enjoy doing and want to do more of?  What dreams and aspirations do they have?  How do they usually respond to a problem and what could they do different to be more proactive?

An example I provided was driving to work in the morning.  I have no control over other people's schedules.  I cannot make them get out of the way and get rid of traffic.  Even if I honk, I still can't make them speed up or move.  But what I can control is how I respond to the traffic.  I can choose to not let it bring me down and frustrate me by leaving a little earlier from my house, turning up the music and singing along, and just enjoying some time alone.  When we focus on what we have control over, we don't let other people or things control us.

Students filled their ideas in the Olympic rings and drew illustrations to describe how they will try to be more proactive in their lives.

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