edu180atl: paul oberman 11.28.12
Today I re-learned that everyone likes to hear nice things about themselves…even high school students. I had read many emails about the soldier killed in battle who was found with a sheet of paper in his pocket filled with nice things written about him by his fifth grade classmates. It sounded like a powerful exercise. So I decided to try it with my peer leadership class, a class of ten students. I handed out a sheet of paper with the student’s name to each student. Then the students passed their sheet to the right in our circle, with the instructions to “say something nice about the person whose name is on your sheet.” We then continued to write and pass sheets to the right until each member of the class had written about every other member of the class. The entire exercise was done with more quiet intensity than usual.
Finally the “reveal” moment came, when each student had the opportunity to read what the others had written about him or her. The reactions were unanimous—all smiles all the way around the circle. Everyone wanted to share the favorite comment, the one they felt really hit home. Then the conversation changed, and the students wanted to talk about how eager they had been to see each new sheet, to think of just the right compliment for each of their peers. Most had read their classmates’ comments when the sheets came around; some continued on a theme they saw, and some consciously chose to go down a different path, reflecting on a great athlete’s care for others, for example.
This exercise reminded me just how much we all love to hear and read nice things about ourselves. And at the end of class, unusually, not a single sheet of paper was left behind!
About the author: Paul Oberman is the Head of School at Yeshiva Atlanta. He has been involved in teaching and learning since 1989, and loves working with the students and families at YA. Go Lions!