Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The power of the thumbs up

The last week and a half I've felt like I've walked straight out of a 70s movie poster. Or maybe cheesier than that. A Japanese infomercial perhaps? I can't go 5 minutes without giving someone a thumbs up. A kid catches my eye while they happen to be sitting criss cross apple sauce? Thumbs up. I walk past a line of well-ordered kindergartners? Thumbs up. Pixie remembers to raise her hand? Two thumbs up. My thumbs are getting tired and I'm 100% aware of just how goofy I look all day, everyday.

But it doesn't matter. The thumbs up is magic because it silently lets the kids know that I'm watching them, that I know they're doing a good job, and that I appreciate it. It's almost like that child and I have a special secret when they see my thumbs up directed at them. They always smile and then almost exaggerate the behavior they were doing well- stand up straighter, pinch their lips together to prove how silent they can sit, or visibly place their hands in their lap. All that and I don't even have to say anything.

It's especially powerful this year. My partner-in-crime and I have a special friend who is learning to follow the rules a little slower than everyone else. While he blatantly disregards what the class is doing the kids tend to look at us with confusion- why does he get to play with blocks right now and we don't? All those confused eyes need is one thumbs up and they smile and return to the lesson- Yes, I know he's not doing his job, but I know you're doing yours, and it's awesome, my thumb seems to say.

It's amazing how those silent, non-verbal cues can be so simple but so powerful.


magpie said...

I love doing the thumbs up. You might like this Aussie song as well:

Jill Fisch said...

I have found myself using the thumbs up signal with my first graders this year. I am not sure how or why I started this. I have never done it before. Like you, I realize how silly I look but it is working so I am continuing to use it.