WOWW – Working On What Works (60 min)


I’d like to talk to you about making a difference in classrooms but I like to start out by telling you a story of how all this thing came about. I have worked with schools forty years as a consultant. I have never been a teacher and I’ve never been interested
in teaching children. I’ve been teaching at the university level grad school level but never any children younger than those students. So, I haven’t been looking for more work to do either cause I’m busy enough already. So, let me tell you how this thing came about. One day, I was visiting a friend in south Florida. South Florida is an interesting place because it is so close to Caribbean Islands. So, there are lots of immigrants. come from Caribbean Islands which is very poor, very very
poor areas there. And so this was a place called Fort Lauderdale which has about three million population in that general area. And I have a friend there that I have known about 10-15 years and I was going to be in that area
so I sent him an email and said, “I’m coming down to your area and I could sit down and have dinner with you.” I have never known him personally. We always meet at the conferences and different meetings. but never in a personal way. So, he said, “Great.” and “I’ll bring my wife.” So, we did, we met for a dinner and his wife comes…
I never met her before because her work does not have
anything to do with my area of work. It is the first time I’m meeting her and this lady comes and says that, “I had the worst day in my teaching career today. I’m just coming from the worst class day I have ever had in all my years of my teaching.” So, I thought, “Oh my gosh!” I knew she’s been a teacher for long time. She says about 28 years, of classroom teaching.
And she specializes in working with… teaching children with what they call “special…” it goes by different names;
“special needs children”, or “high-risk children”. High risk of what? High risk of dropping out of school. The shorthand word is “high risk kids”. So, we call them high risk kids, which is not a good word,
but that’s how we.. how things go. Anyway, she’s been teaching this
seventh grade. She teaches sixth and seventh grade. And in our system, sixth, seventh and eighth are called the middle school. So, the primary school is from
kindergarten to fifth grade. And you have a middle school, and then we have a high school. That’s the system. This is the middle. And among the teachers – any of you who are teachers – middle school children are thought
to be most difficult kids to teach because they are not quite children, they not teenagers. They are in between. So, they act like they are in between too. In the morning they act like little kids, and then in the afternoon they act like they are all grown up
high school kids. “Don’t tell me what to do!” That kind of… Anyway, she said she had the worst day. So, I thought oh my gosh,
she has that many years of experience. If this lady had worst day of her teaching career, I thought this must be really
horrendous situation. So, I made the mistake of asking her “‘So, what made it such a bad day today?” I shouldn’t never said that. And then she started talking about a boy
named Sam in her class. It’s not real name, but we decided to call him Sam. Sam is one of those children
who are about two years behind his level. His family has moved around so much that at seventh grade they think that he may have attended
more than between 10 and 15 schools in seventh grade. So, you know the family is not
in a very stable situation. He also… about couple of weeks before I came down the teacher says he threatened to… He climbed the tallest tree in the school yard and he threatened to jump off the tree
and kill himself. Most seventh grade children don’t talk about… When they talk about suicide
it has to be a bit older than that. Seventh graders are too early for that. But that’s what he did. So, of course everybody got worried, tried to go out, and tried to get him
to come down from the tree. And won’t listen. He was absolutely to jump. And he was
going to jump off the tree and kill himself. They had to call the fire department. The fire department came with
a huge ladder that reached out. And so, the fireman has to climb up there and brought him down. This had happened only one or two
weeks before I showed up. This gives you some idea
of what a difficult child he has been. And then she says, what made it such a difficult day for her today was that he would just pound anything and everything he
could get his hand on. Just all day going around and pounding things. And she just couldn’t get him to stop. She said, “I tried every trick of my trade. Tried to get him to calm down so that he does not
distract other kids in the school.” This is a special ed…
they call special education classes. The classes are normally smaller
than usual class size. So, they only have about 20,
sometimes 22 students. Even that is a large group for those kind of
very very difficult high-risk kids. And so, she was going on and on about this today. So, I was listening very carefully. And… I was very sympathetic of course. I’ve never been a teacher, but I cannot imagine… and this is not, you know, a teacher who has burned out. Not at all.
She just loves her children. She calls them “my children”. She doesn’t say ‘my students’.
She calls them ‘my children”. And she is really passionate about the teaching. Most teachers by that time… when they have been teaching that long they usually are… they show a lot of signs of burnout. But not this lady. So, she just went on and on about this and talking about… So, I said… I was listening and listening… and I said, “So, when you have this kind of problems What do you normally do in schools like yours? What’s the usual procedure when you have this kind of very disruptive child that disrupts the entire classroom?” And she says, “Well, what we do is we send them out of the classroom. And the child, the student can
have conversation with either counselors, psychologist or sometimes what we have,
what’s called in-school detention.” In-school detention means,
instead of sending the child home to… to whatever he wants to do, or get out in the street and get in trouble, they keep him in a separate facility
within the school. And I need to say a little bit more about this school. This school has about, probably between 1600 and 2000 students depending on which year.
Because the population increases continuously and the families move
in and out of the area all the time. And there about 74% of their
students get free lunch. What that means is, family whose income level is below poverty level,
what’s government decided this is the poverty level income. Any family who are below that gets free lunch. So, when school people talk to each other about how many percent of my school’s
children get free lunch that means a very high rate of the student population is poor. And many of them are also immigrant families from the Caribbean Islands. And many parents don’t speak English. So, it’s very difficult to connect with the parents because most parents are either very afraid of coming to school for conferences, because they don’t speak English very well, or many parents also have to have 2-3 jobs because the income, the wages is so low they work many hours. It’s common to have 2-3 jobs. So this is the kind of population
we are talking about. So, I said, “When you send this kind
of children out of the classroom, What happens, there, out there?” And she says, “I don’t know what they do,
but they have a talk. I think they have a talk.” The disruptive child and the either school counselor, psychologist or social worker have a talk with the child and then
child comes back after an hour.” So, I said, “Oh, so, does that work?” And she says, “No! It doesn’t work!” So, I said, “Well, why do you keep doing it then,
if it doesn’t work?” And then she said,
“We don’t know what else to do. We have no idea of what to do
with this kind of children.” So I said, “Oh…oh… there must be a way. They are only children and we are adults.” We should be little bit smarter than they are. And so I thought, “There’s go to be a way. There must be a way.
There has to be a way.” And she said, “What? Tell me what!” I said, “I don’t have an idea.” I have no idea, but there’s got to be a way, right? And then she said, “If you have an idea,
I want to know.” So, that was the sort of a conversation. And then I got back to thinking about it, so I said, “You know you were talking about his pounding
and making noises all day, So what…how did he manage to stop pounding?” And she says, “Oh my gosh, oh my gosh. Oh my gosh, yes! He did.” You see, many people when there’s a problematic behavior like this, we always think about how the problem starts. Nobody ever stop and think about
how does the problem end. How does is stop. Right? We all say, “He started drinking again.” “Why did you start drinking again?” “Why did you start stealing again?” “Why did you start this and this and this?” And nobody ever stop and think about
how does this problem end. The number of these people that always
looking at the other side they also want you to look at. And she was just shocked by this. and “Yes” So, I said, “Well, you came home, he went home. He must have stopped some time. If we know how he stopped, perhaps we can get him to stop sooner, and sooner and sooner. That was my thinking.
I don’t know. So, I thought well…ok… So then, we said, “Is it possible for me to visit your class?” And she says, “Yes, of course. We are very open to visitors. We have people coming in and out. quite frequently students are not bothered by this. OK, so, we made an arrangement for me
to visit her school tomorrow morning, next morning, because I had some time before I got my client. Her husband, who is… his name is Lee Shilts
and the wife’s name is Margaret. So Lee said, “Can I come along?” “Of course.” So, we decided to visit the class tomorrow morning. And we… when they walked in the class… So, I really wanted to see… cause this is not what I normally like to work with, something that I had never faced…
problems that I never faced before, I like to be there. I like feel this out for my self. So, I wanted to see, really, how is it how does these things work. So, when the child is disruptive what does the teacher do, what do other kids do, what so-and-so’s do? always interested in before…
The context. The problem context. We cannot take the problem child
out of the classroom and fix the child’s behavior out there and then put him back in there.
Nothing changes then. We know a lot about this. This is what happens in many many institutions such as residential treatment homes for very difficult children. We send them away in a very different setting. This is not a normal real-life setting, very artificial setting, and they behave differently and then you send them back to the home. Then things starts all over again. So, I thought, wow, I’ve seen this before but anyway. So, we walk in the classroom, and all those children who were very curious
about these two people visiting So, Margaret introduces us to the children, her class. And she says, “This is my husband Lee. He teaches at the University. at the same… in Fort Lauderdale. He is a professor at the university. And this is Insoo. And her introduction was:
“This is a lady who travels around the world.” It was my introduction. So, we quietly went and sat
in the back of the class because we wanted to see this difficult behaviour problem,
very difficult problem. And just as he walked in, we could
sort of tell which one was Sam because what teachers mostly do is their most difficult chid is always
seated right in the front there so that the teacher can manage them all day, right? So, I thought, “Hmm. This must be Sam.” So we went, back, we sat in the back. And then of course the kids are moving around, and they are doing things,
and teacher’s talking over them. About 20 minutes, or so, is all we could handle. The body movement, you know,
it just was a huh! So distracting. So, we decided we had had enough, we had seen enough. And we also had other meetings scheduled with the principal and all this, so we left. And we had other meetings and so on. And essentially, every meeting we had, we talked about… asked questions
about these kinds of way to manage difficult child in classroom. They all got convinced that this
was the only way they know how. And I really didn’t quite believe that because if it doesn’t work –
it’s one of the rules in solutions-focused approach – that if it doesn’t work, we have to stop
doing it, and then do something different. We don’t know what that different is. So, we had different meetings and we had another dinner that evening to discuss today’s visit. And… we forgot… As we started talking about it Lee and I discovered that ‘Oh, we forgot’ We should have given this Sam compliments because he was very different as the day before. He sat down. He came over, and we sat in the back there. He comes over, walks over the isle like this and he comes to me. Not to Lee, but to me and he says to me, “Do you really travel around the world?” So, I said, “Yes”. “Ohh!” He was very impressed by that. And then in his world… his concept of the world is very
different than your’s or mine. He says, “Have you been to New York?” “Yes.”
“Oh”, he was impressed. “Have you been to… ” he tests more.
Have you been to Los Angeles?” “Yes.”
“Oh”, he was impressed. “Have you been to Miami?” “Yes.”
“Oh”, he was so impressed. He had one more question and he said, “Have you been to Boston?” “Yes.”
“Ah. How many times?” He was so impressed. I didn’t know what was this about, the Boston. And then he says,
“I used to live in Boston.” So, this was his main concept
of the world, right? New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Boston.
That’s the world. That’s his world. Anyway, so he was just so impressed by this and then after he was satisfied
with the answers he went back and sat down and he started concentrating on his work all the noises going on,
teacher’s talking loud… he did not get distracted at all. We were just… I was amazed by that. I kept looking at him from the back. He just concentrated, concentrated on his work, never even lifted his head. Very different child than
yesterday’s description. And of course this is an ‘exception’, right? From our language, from our solution-focused
language this is an ‘exception’. Of course Margaret was really mad
at dinner because she said, “I wanted you to see him at his worst, but he was at his best.” She said, “It’s not fair! It’s not fair.” So, we then… you know, we sat down. “Well, we have some ideas.” One of the things that dawned on us,
Lee and I decided, Oh my gosh, we forgot to give Sam
some compliments. Cause we noticed him being so
focused on his work. So, we decided we are going to write him a letter. So, Lee and I wrote a letter, said, “Dear Sam” and telling him how impressed we were that you were able to be so focused on your work even though there were lots of activities
going on in the classroom, you never got distracted.” So, we asked Margaret to give it to him next morning About a week later I get a phone call, and I had been thinking about this.
We didn’t know where to start. Week later I get a phone call from Margaret and Margaret says, “You have no idea what kind of an impact you had on him.” I said, “Me? I didn’t do anything.” And she says, “He was a different child. Very different child all week.” “Ah, what do you mean ‘different child?'” He caught up with his English,
caught up with math, social studies. He was just the best behaved child she
had ever seen him. All week that way. And on top of that he was so proud of
this letter he got from us. He folded it very nicely, folded it and folded it and carried in his back pack pocket. And anybody… anybody who might listen, he would stop them, show him this letter “Look at this letter I got from this Lady
who travels around the world.” So, somehow this meant something to him. And she also said, “Surprise, surprise.” The biggest surprise… his mother called HER, and said to her, ‘What is this letter
that Sam is talking about?’ This is very unusual for mother to call her. It’s really she calling mother. So, she was just amazed by this transformation. So, Lee and I decided, “Wow, there’s something to this.” We don’t know what it is.
We have no idea of what it is. But somehow child like him with one small compliment have
that kinds of impact for a whole week I wonder what would happen if that
somehow got repeated over and over again. So, we came up with this idea and since Lee lives there, right there, and I don’t, he decided… we looked at his schedule and decided that he could
spare three hours a week three hours a week he would donate this time and then he will go to class… – we came up with this strategy – that he would go to class,
sit in the back of the class take notes of all the successful
behaviours of the entire class because for us, taking Sam out of class
did not make any sense at all because it’s the natural environment of children – that’s the classroom – and their behavior problem occurs in that classroom. So, it doesn’t make any sense to take that child out of their context, do something over there and somehow
that’s going to spill over in this context. Doesn’t make any sense. So, we decided that we want to try.
And we talked to the principal and the principal was for it. “Why not. Let’s give it a try.
Nothing else works anyway.” So, we were in agreement with that. Of course we were very sensitive about
counselling department people because we didn’t want the counselling department,
or the psychology people or social worker people to be upset about now someone outsider
is coming in and taking over their job. So, we had to be sensitive about that. And they were OK with that because
they had no other ideas either. So, in some ways, the story
I’m trying to tell you is sort of a… it’s much more of a didactic way of finding solutions cause we don’t know what we are starting with So we have to get in there, looking
for ways to make a difference. So, the only thing we could think of that
worked with Sam – even for a week – was compliment. We complimented on him doing something
that he was supposed to do, but he was doing it. So this was something that is
sort of outstanding for him. So, instead of singling out a child,
as a problematic child, which is done normally, in most schools we decided we’re not going to do that. We are going to work with the whole class. So, we talked to teachers,
asked the teachers who were having such difficulty, difficult days, like Margaret did and the more we talk to teachers the more number of the teachers tell us about how they go home with such headache every day. How stressful this job is, and how difficult their job is
because of children like Sam. All it takes is one child, like Sam that give them a headache. So, we decided that… are they willing
to be our guinea pig, and all teachers said sure why not.
Nothing else worked anyway. So, we started with four teachers who volunteered. Four teachers in three classrooms. There’s two teachers who are doing team teaching. So, if you have two teachers then you have about 42 students in the teaching classes. So, there are two teachers there. And also, what was interesting was that some of the teachers had classes
where students come and go. Like every hour this different class of students come, and they leave and come and leave. Some teachers had that kind of classes. We also had teachers who had
the same class, group of children all day like Margaret did. Margaret had the same group of students
all day long and every day. So, we had a nice mix of different ways
that schools operate we wanted to be as natural possible. So, Lee started. And we gave them a little bit of a presentation
about what this idea, where this idea comes from, what this is all about so the teachers will get some concept of this. So, they said OK after what they heard about what is the thought behind it. It’s not something that we pulled out of thin air but obviously there’s some basis for this. So, Lee sat down in the back and
went in and explained, “My job is here…I am here to find out all the good things you children do in this classroom every day. My job is to take notes and I’m going to report back to you
at the end of the hour. And I will be coming to see you every week, same time, and I’m going to continue to watch what you do that works for you. All the good things going on this classroom.” So, that’s what he did. Lee found around somewhere between
14, 15, to about 20 items which is almost all children in that class. So, all children have something
positive, something to hear from a visitor who they didn’t know
anything about who Lee was. Anyways, so normal ordinary things. We’re not talking about
outrageously wonderful behavior. We were saying things…
The list would include: “I saw 70% of the class sat down
at their desk when the bell rang. You all sat at the desks, had your books out
and got ready for the day.” “I saw you, when you noticed that somebody next to you
didn’t have a pencil you quietly took out your own pencil
out of your pencil box, gave it to him and then you went back to your work.” “I saw you, when your teacher’s phone rang, you quietly went over,
talked on the phone very quietly, took the message down to the teacher and gave her the message
and then went back to your seat.” These kinds of ordinary things that children do. “I saw you walk in the class this morning, you smiled at me and said good morning.” “When I saw you, and you realized it was time, although, and there were some students coming in the class late I saw you getting up and and open the door quietly and went back to your class and sat down.” Nothing heroic things – just everyday good behavior expected behavior. This was the first time.
This lasted about two-three weeks. So, the students get the idea that
someone is coming out here to watch and learn about our good behaviour. Then we started, after about three weeks, we started introducing the concept
of scales: 1 to 10. What Lee did was, he would, at the end of
the summary and report back to class, he would say, “Based on what I have observed – if ten was the best behaving class I have ever seen – I would say your class, today was about four. And I want you to keep trying to stay at four. until I come back next week.” And each, about two-three weeks in the beginning was nothing but compliments and then we started gradually
to introduce the concept of scaling. And, then we started introducing – that lasted about two-three weeks again – and then we went into goal setting, “Based on what you have learned so far on a scale from 1-10,
what number do you want to be at?” Kind of class as a whole. And they would have all kinds of ideas. Some children would say,
“Oh, we want to be at eight.” And the teacher would say,
“Hey, wait a minute. That’s not realistic.” And, the teacher would also have been invited to go for the goal negotiation with the entire class. And then we… This became the class goal. They all agreed that what
we want to do this week is to be at from 4 to 5. “We want to be at five by the end of this week. on Friday afternoon we want to be at five.” And this was a very interesting goal negotiation where the entire class of children tried to negotiate what number they wanted to be at. And so we taught them the concept
of being realistic, goals. And so that when you are at 5, what would Lee, what would coach –
they started calling Lee coach – what would the coach see all of you, the classroom of students doing that will tell him that you are at five? And so, of course all children
very different numbers So, it took quite a bit of a negotiating
entire class of kids to agree. And then when the teacher was invited to participate in this as well, the teacher knows what is realistic for the entire class of kids. That got repeated for one semester. One semester is about 15 weeks, 15-16 weeks. There were some weeks
that the students had field trips, so that we didn’t do it. There was also an exam week. That means that all children had to take test, the achievement test. So that week we didn’t do it cause the children were very busy
preparing for the achievement test. Other than that, about…
first semester, about 14 weeks we showed up and the children started having such positive reaction through Lee’s coming because they can count on Lee giving nothing but compliments to them. So they were just happy to see him. As soon as he walks down the hallway children would say, “Hi mister Lee.” “Good morning” and they would
pull the chair out for him. They were just happy to see him coming. Because unlike teachers always yelling at them. Lee talks about how well they are doing. And by the end of the first semester the principal was just… he kept track of how are the children performing. It’s always performance, measure. And he realized, the principal realized that these three classes had fewer absences, fewer number of children coming to class late, but most of all their academic performance has gone up. And, the teachers also noticed so many different signs that children are responding to this. For example, teachers would notice when, “You hear (that) she gets a compliment
about something she did, if you want to get compliments from the coach, you will imitate what she does. So, watch other children about what is it
that they get compliments for.” And once they do the same thing,
they repeat what other children do, they know they are going to get compliments. Also, some teachers became very creative. So that a teacher at the… he just made a chart, a success scale, we call the classroom success scale. And it looked like a big piece of paper and there is a week, there is a number scale ten and a description of what 10 would look like and children participated in this. What 10 behavior would look like. What nine behaviour would look like. What eight behaviour would look like,
and so on. Children said, “This is what we’ll be doing.” This is all children’s idea, not teacher’s idea. So, they are so excited about that when they moved up to seven, and they know they have to have these
kinds of description of their behaviour in the entire class. So, pretty soon students started owning up the class goal. Because it is something that they decided, they wanted to do. So, we started experimenting this, and we repeated the same thing
second semester. So, this beginning was… first school year is usually… First school year is from September until June. And, they repeated the same thing. And by the end of the first year the principal could see, clearly see, the change. That’s one thing that they had noticed. The other thing they had noticed,
also, teachers noticed, that children are so concerned about
meeting up their goals. If they decided, this week,
we want to be at seven, if some other children start to talk in class
to each other, then other children will say, “Shh, seven, we want to be at seven. So, they start to own up the goal because it’s their goal and they are monitoring each other’s behaviour. Amazing. Teachers start to see the children
very differently. You can imagine that, how teachers respond to them. Teachers also became very creative. So, one teacher decided that she is going to make… And so this the WOWW program. We started to call it the WOWW. WOWW stands for Working On What Works. W O W W So, working on what works. He just came up with that idea. And so, this continued. In seventh school year we had 32 teachers volunteered. They were never asked to this.
They heard about it. Of course, as you know, teachers talk to
the teachers during lunch time, or during meetings. They talk about it. So, (one) teacher said, “You, Lee, I want you to come to my class as well.” How could Lee do this?
30 school, I mean some teachers, classes. He can’t do that.
We’ll not get paid. Nobody’s paying anything. So, Lee has… he also teaches at the university And he decided, “Aha, I’ll ask students,
the graduate students who want to do the internship.” And they have to do internship
in order to meet their requirements. And these students just love,
graduate students just love to go to class and have the children
glad to see them. So, al these interns then, – we started to get increasing number of interns – So, we were able to manage 36 classes
without any difficulty. Then third year we went up to 115 teachers. Now, we’ve just started the fourth year. And the school principal said, “All newly hired teachers must do this.” So, when you’re such as, nobody comes
along and makes it mandatory. We really didn’t want that. We didn’t want that, we wanted
this to be voluntary. But he was just absolutely sold on this. As a manager he knows also that he need to get good performance
out of his children. I like to say a little bit about the background of this. I’m sure you have heard about… in education field you’ve heard about the American program that’s called
No Child Left Behind. This is a George Bush’s idea. Many teachers hate this. They just don’t like this And there are some states even
suing the federal government not xxxx this. What it is is, they all – each state – must have standardized exit exam. That means to get promoted
from sixth grade to seventh grade you must pass the sixth grade exam. Otherwise, you have to repeat the sixth grade again. And teachers are saying, “You cannot do that because each child has different circumstances. So, that many students… But anyway, Florida is… Florida’s governor is George Bush’s brother. Of course! He’s 100% behind this. And what makes it even more difficult is that the money is tide up. That if your students perform better than other schools,
your school gets more money. It’s the opposite of that. It’s usually that the poor performing schools needs more support. But they are going to say,
“No, we are not going to give you more money.” This school where we started was… There is a class A, B, C. A is the highest performance school. They get most amount of amount of money. And then there is B’s class and C’s class. This school belonged in the C’s class
when we first began. By second year they moved up to B class. This year – at the end of this past school year – all five and six school year, they moved up to B school, and now they went up to A school, so they are getting more money. You can imagine how the principal is just delighted. I will say this was not the only thing
that’s contributed to that. There are other things, I’m sure, they have done. I like to think that we have had some
contribution to this. We have no way of knowing that, but we are also at the same time trying to collect some data. There is a graduate student who is
doing a doctoral dissertation and she is in the middle of collecting all this data about six classes without the WOWW program the six classes with WOWW program. Comparing two different datas. So, that in the same school the only difference is the WOWW element –
is the only thing that makes the difference between this group of six and this group of six classes. So, we are hoping, by end of this summer Sometimes, certainly by end of this year, there will be some data that tells us
that we are all wrong, or we were right. We will know that. She is looking for that outcome right now. And also she’s very eager to get this done
as quickly as possible, so she could get out of school and move on to whatever she wants to do,
whatever it will be. Anyway, so this is what’s gong on. I’d like to say a little bit about also… since then we have done some different things. Have I mentioned, we are always
invited by the teacher because we are aso very respectful of… and one of the tings we insist on is that coaches always behave like you are a guest in someone’s house. So, always very polite. We have to be thankful. Thank the teacher, thank the class, for allowing us,
or allowing me to come to observe you. We appreciate that. That get’s reminded all the time. And, we really insist on that all they do. And also, negotiate properly with the teachers periodically because teachers really love having other adults – second eyes – in the classroom. And especially, when those other adults
see the same thing that she sees. We also negotiate with the teachers before we start. “When you want us to, we also like to give you,
the teachers, compliments. Do you want us to do it in private, without the students present or do you want us to give you compliments in front of the children?” And surprisingly, almost all teachers say “We want you to give me compliments
in front of the children.” And they say, the reason for that is because these children need to hear what other adults are saying about their teacher. So this is the sort of the….
every step on the way we inform the teacher,
we negotiate with the teacher and… amazing changes are occurring. For example, one teacher tells me that “Insoo, I realized that I am… my language is changing.” That’s what she’s doing.
We never emphasized the language use. You just… you will just be a teacher. You will do whatever you normally do
in your classroom. So, I said, “What do you mean
your language is changing?” And she says, “I’ve noticed that when I talk
to my children I’m different.” So, “In what way are you different?” And she tell me that, “I used to always tell the child, ask the child, ‘Why are you late 15 minutes again
this morning?’ ” I never heard this before, but she says, “Now I don’t do it anymore.” “So what do you do instead?” She says, “Now I ask the child and say ‘What do you need to do, tomorrow morning, so that you will be only late 14 minutes tomorrow morning?’ ” And she says, the following conversation is so different. And she is amazed. And we never talked about this. We just left it up to them. You know, whatever they do, they do; they are the teacher. We’re not intruding on… how to teach.
We are not teachers. So, these are kind of reports we get. And children’s behavior is just
absolutely amazing So, one of these charter school principal calls me calls me up and says, “Insoo I want to talk to you.” So, she wanted to have a meeting, and I showed up. So, she says, “I have these two teachers who are not very good teachers. And I want you to help these teachers.” I think, “Oh my God. I don’t know
anything about how to teach.” But she says, “The problem that the
two teachers have is they don’t know how to manage the classroom. It’s not that they are lacking about their teaching skills. They have all the good teaching skills, but they don’t know how to manage the
classroom. So, would you be willing to work
with these two teachers?” So, I said, “Well, I’ll give a try, but I don’t promise anything. I have no idea. I never done this before.” With some experience of the WOWW program I thought I could give it a try. So I said to her, “Do these two teachers know that you are talking to me about my coming live
to visit their classes?” And she says, “Yes.” “Are they in favor of that?” “Yes” I still didn’t know if they were really in favor of that so I said, “Is it possible for me
to meet with them… individually?” She said, “Of course.
Of course you can do that.” So, I had the meeting and I was thinking about how
do I approach these teachers. I can’t come to them and say, “I understand that you have
poor classroom management skills.” You can’t do that, right? So, I thought about how do I approach this. And so I came up with the idea that I’m going to talk to the teachers and I started out with…
and I did this with both teachers. I showed up for meeting and I said, “You know, as you know, this Dr. so-and-so, the principal of the school, has asked me to work with you. And then I wondered because… I wondered… She, this principal, must have a lot… see a lot of potential in you to be a good teacher. That’s the reason why she is going through this special effort to find me first of all. Cause I’m not known in the schools. Find me first of all, contacted me, had a meeting with me, and she is willing to invest money to help you become better teacher.” What do you suppose the principal sees in you, that would make her want to invest that much time and effort and money into helping you? What do you think that is?” Very nice way to… Instead of just saying “I just think you’re a bad teacher”. Much different way. And so than, they were just really amazed by this. They begun and stop and think about it. Because I’m sure they expected
me to talk about their deficits. Lacking this kind of skill
and that kind of skill, and so on. It has worked out very well. That’s how it began with both teachers. And then we also negotiated… with the both teachers, The one thing that we learned is that we liked to point out, that teachers do well,
as well. Not just students. But we also wanted to make sure that teachers understand what
they are successful at in managing classes. “So do you want us to do this individually, or do you want us to do this
in front of the children?” An they both said, “I want you to do this
in front of the children.” OK, so we had an agreement on that. So, the reason I’m telling you about this is because they had some interesting reactions to that. That is, when we started giving
teachers compliments, as well. This teacher said – who was sort of
forced to be coached to be a good teacher – she said, “I listen to you
giving compliments to the children, and then you started calling my name”
‘Mrs so-and-so, Mrs. Jones’ And then she said, “I was just wide awake.” All my attention went to listening
to what you had to say. Even though knew what was coming, I was so surprised at my own reaction of how I became wide awake.” And I was so amazed by this that with even all these years
with giving compliments to clients, I’m quite used to that, but teachers saying that to me. I was just… So, you can have that kind of impact on teachers. So, I would like you to be reminded of that, and then also how the teachers’
language started changing, which is just absolutely amazing. They also said… many teachers just hate children
passing notes to each other during class time, they, you know… And one teacher decided… We never talked about it. We didn’t tell them what to do, but they came up with this idea. One teacher decided, “I cannot stop kids from
passing notes to each other, so, I decided I will just face it up front.” “So, what did you do?” And she said, “I set a time, I set up aside time, and I tell the class, ‘Now it’s’ time for you to pass notes to each other!’ But this time I’m telling you
what to say in a note. So, the behavior of passing notes
is something that the children do, but she said, ‘I want you to pass notes to
each other with complements for other children.’ Imagine that. The teachers are so creative that way. And there was one teacher who
made a WOWW chair. So, what’s a WOWW chair? She made this chair and decorated it with all this… the gold… and she also made a crown that was from paper, a golden crown, and any child who made the most progress that week get to sit in the WOWW chair, the special WOWW chair
with a crown on his head. They took pictures, and the pictures
get posted on the wall. And of course, all children
want their picture on the wall just like the other children do. So they really work hard to get
their picture taken. This is an example of that. There was this one teacher who
brought down these sticker notes. You know this little short notepad
with stickers to stick on. She said, “I always carries around.” this little notepad,
the sticker notepad and a pen. “Anytime I see some children doing something well, I immediately write a note, stick it on them and then I just move on. And things like this. The teachers are becoming more and more
and more creative in their way of complementing
the children because they realize how powerful this can be for the children. And then, one of the things we tried
in the beginning was writing letters to parents. We thought… there’s a lot of research data (that) shows, when parents are involved in the education of their children, the children do better. So, we wanted to invite parents. And we started writing parents notes
about what we are here for. “This is why we are here.
This is the WOWW program, and we want you to pay attention to
what the child is doing well in coming weeks and months.” And, “If you have any questions, please let us know. And then we started writing letters, you know computer generated letters, and sending to parents. Nothing. No reaction. So, we got very discouraged by this. We thought that this letter writing campaign
doesn’t work very well. The letter was all about
what the child had done well, not about what the child has done wrong. So we thought, that this might create
some curiosity amongst the parents. Nothing. And then, second year, we are hearing from parents. And this maybe a very unusual situation for
this school, but we are going to experiment with that. That is, parents say, their children come home
and they talk about this WOWW. So, “I want to know what this WOWW is.” So, when they hear from their own children, rather than getting this official letter
from school… somehow there seemed to be no impact. We don’t know what that is, whether that is it’s just a very unusual
situation here, with this school. So, we are in the middle
of experimenting with that. We want parents to be involved. And then we work with some… We also have some upper middle class neighborhood schools outside of Chicago. And there parents are so interested and parents want us to give them something about… a presentation
about this WOWW. And the parents say, “Can you train us, can you teach us, to do this WOWW thing,
whatever this WOWW thing is.” So, it depends on the school to school to school. So some parents, the middle class, very interested in their children’s education they have the luxury of time
and also go to the… showing up on meetings in school,
and so on then they a very kind reaction. So, we are still learning after three years, starting fourth year, we are learning
a great deal about this. So again, I’d like you to… I wonder if you have any questions
about this so far. All right, I think we have used up our time. Thank you so much.

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