Chris Ulmer is a special education teacher at Mainspring Academy in Jacksonville, Florida, and he obviously is very good at his job. In a video that was posted to facebook that’s now gone viral, we see that Chris begins his daily teachings in a bit of a different way than most teachers.
While most kids sit down to hear morning announcments or recite the Pledge of Allegiance, Chris takes the first 10 minutes of class to bestow compliments on his students. One by one his students approach him and he lists off a few positive traits that they have, and that he loves that he gets to teach them.
In the video captions Chris writes ‘ Every morning I spend 10 minutes complimenting the students in my special education class. I have seen their confidence and self-worth sykrocket. Every child deserves to feel accepted in this way. Instead of focusing on deficits I focus on talents. Instead of talking about peace, love and harmony, I display peace love and harmony. A child’s reality is shaped from early life experience. If they have a mean, jaded teacher they will think the world is mean and jaded. But if a teacher displays love, harmony and peace…THAT will become their norm. After a few weeks of this practice my students started complimenting one another consistently. They praise each other for accomplishments as if it was their own. They never insult one another, and actively work towards helping each other. Hate is a learned behaviour. Love is natural.My students have developed the ability to look me in the eye and praise my efforts as well.’
WOW! What an amazing teacher, these kids are so lucky to have him and he seems equally lucky to have them. Ulmer told ABC News that he often posts videos to his facebook page, with the parents permission, but this one struck a chord for some reason. “I actually didn’t think a whole lot about this one before posting it. It’s just something we do.” Ulmer explained that his complimentary style of teaching evolved from having theme days when he first started teaching. On ‘toast Tuesdays’ which is where his complimentary style of teaching began he said “I noticed the kids were always more motivated, happier and better behaved on Tuesdays. So we started doing it every day.”
Ulmer has been teaching these kids for 3 years now and says that they have really ‘evolved like a family.’
“They all came from a segregated environment [from general education students]. Now they’re participating in school activities, dancing in front of hundreds of other kids and in the debate club.”
Chris has been trying to get a book about his students published but has had no luck so far.
“I have 50 rejection letters on my fridge to keep me motivated,” he said. The book tells the story of each of his students with input but Chris, the student and their parents.
What an amazing teacher. Here’s hoping he finally gets that one acceptance letter and gets that book published!