“Capturing Kids’ Hearts” Session An Aid In Child Development at Tyler ISD
10 years ago
Cynthia Davis clearly remembers a former high school math teacher who stopped for a moment one day and asked her, “Did anybody ever tell you you’re good at math?”
“No, sir,” was her response.
He said, “Well, you are.”
It came as a surprise to her at the time because she’d always believed she wasn’t very good at math. But it was a moment that stuck with her later in life – one that she can point to now as why she would become a math teacher.
Decades later, she wants to have that same kind of lasting impact on a child’s life.
“I want to be that kind of teacher,” said Ms. Davis, now a Griffin Elementary School teacher. “I want to be that person who says the one thing that may affect that child for the rest of their life – the positive thing.”
This week, she and more than 150 other teachers have been collecting the tools to do just that during a three-day training session in “Capturing Kids’ Hearts.” The training is aimed at showing teachers and others that “if you have a child’s heart, you have his head.”
That’s the trademarked phrase from Flip Flippen, an educator, psychotherapist and business coach who founded the Flippen Group, based out of College Station, which puts on the Capturing Kids’ Hearts training not only in Texas, but around the country and internationally.
The skills taught in the training are not only applicable to an educational setting but in the corporate world and in people’s personal lives.
Those involved in the training learn strategies to use in the classroom, such as greeting students at the door with a handshake, developing a social contract with students that acts as an “agreement for behavior” in the classroom as well as other techniques that show teachers how to deal with behavior, communicate, empower students and build relationships with students, other teachers and adults. They also learn how to discipline using a non-confrontational model.
The participants in the training sessions experience what Capturing Kids’ Hearts is all about by seeing it in action with the trainer as the teacher and the class of teachers as the class of students. They use hand signals to indicate when someone has made a “foul” (like giving someone a put down), develop a social contract and write encouraging affirmations to each other and drop them in “mail bags.”
Most of the teachers who received the training this week are new to TISD, although some, such as Ms. Davis, are returning teachers hearing the message of “Capturing Kids’ Hearts” for the first time.
This is the first year that new teachers to the district will have the three-day training before going into the classroom.
“We’ve embedded it within that first week,” Kim Tunnell, director of curriculum and instruction for TISD, said. “This way it becomes part of our culture as a district.”
The training is something being offered for employees district wide, not only just to teachers, but to central administration staff members, bus drivers, food service workers and secretaries.
Ms. Tunnell said this is the third year the district has offered the training.
“We hope that they (teachers and other employees) understand that the expectation is not just on high test scores, but making a difference in the students’ lives, that our job is to help them develop into responsible, productive citizens and realize that their strengths don’t necessarily just lie in a test score, but it’s about their character,” Ms. Tunnell said.
Ms. Blythe said the underlying theme is that “to teach a kid anything, first you have to his heart, and that has to do with building relationships with kids and with parents and each other. If people know that you care about them, you can teach them better.”
And she said it’s not another program – but rather life processes. Corinna Greb, a new teacher to TISD, said she’s seen these processes work in classrooms.
“We have to build a relationship with our students before they’re willing to even learn from us,” Ms. Greb, a teacher at Hogg Middle School, said. “If we’re not willing to care and take that time to learn about them, they’re not going to take that time to learn about us and learn what we have to say.”
Ms. Davis said, “it starts with being a better person.”
“I can’t help people that I don’t know. It’s not just about the curriculum, it’s about the human being. You see the kids as human beings.”
Part of what the training shows participants is that to reach a child, teachers have to identify their needs.
“It’s teaching us to come out of ourselves and stop focusing on our needs and focus on the needs of students,” Ms. Davis said. “What does this child need from me and what can I do to make this child’s life better?”
She said they also must individualize instruction to make lessons relevant to students.
“I’ve got to get into this kid’s heart, not his head, to figure out what’s going to work to help you to learn. What do I need to do? It’s all about being selfless.”
While she knows there is a need to focus on testing, there’s more to teaching than just that, she said.
“These are the people who are going to run society in a few years, and what are we teaching them,” she said.
She said she gets excited about the skills Capturing Kids’ Hearts teaches because, “I am building my future. These are the people who are going to be the next president, the next manager of Wal-Mart. These are the people who are our society. If I can help build that, then I can feel I’ve been successful as a teacher.”
That high school teacher Ms. Davis met decades ago, who is now deceased, lives on because of the impact he made on her life, she said.
“That was over 30 years ago, but I still remember him. And I tell my kids about him. His legacy is living on. That’s the kind of teacher I want to be. That’s why I’m excited about this.
“This is my legacy.”