“Ahhh, and that is what it is all about! First behaviors change and slowly beliefs change….this student is truly not only becoming a writer but also learning how to work through other emotional challenges… It is the mini-successes along the way that are celebrated to get to the big goals!”
-Ruth Ziolkowski, President at Don Johnston Incorporated
One Step at a Time
The second time his turn came around, he again said, “No thank you.” I smiled and responded, “I love your manners, but let’s give this a shot! We can do this together!” He got up, wrote one word on the board and started to get upset—like hyperventilate upset. I praised him for typing in the word and gave him the option of calling on a friend to help. He quickly took me up on it!
The next week, I made a deal with him that he could write half of the sentence and a friend could write the other half. He reluctantly agreed, but then did his part and took his seat.
Skip ahead a few weeks and he went to the board on his turn without skipping a beat. After a few words, he independently asked a classmate for help and he remained at the board with her. They worked together writing the sentence. He wrote most of the sentence that his classmate dictated—adding a period to the end with a “Woop! Woop!” He walked back to his seat grinning ear to ear. A few of the students yelled out, “Good job, D!” This was just the boost he needed.
He has come to the board without hesitation since.
Friendly Letter Writing
Then, the students drew names from a hat to determine who they would write to in the class. They got to write about whatever they wanted but needed to include the basic parts of a friendly letter. We addressed the envelopes and mailed them out. The kids were so excited to get mail. One mom told me that her son was so excited because not only did he get mail, but it was the ONLY mail they received that day. Even though this kiddo has a very long driveway, he walked down to the mailbox two days in a row to check for his letter from his classmate. Because of the friendly letter, the following week he brought in his Pokemon cards to show his classmate and played with him at recess.
The kiddos loved receiving letters at home. So, before our state testing, I was able to get all of their former teachers to write them a letter of encouragement before the start of testing.