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Capturing Kids’ Hearts is worth both time and effort spent

Capturing Kids’ Hearts is a program designed to help educators do just that. Why is that important? “If you have a child’s heart, you have their mind” is the core belief of Flip Flippen, founder and chairman of the Flippen Group, NY Times best-selling author, and nationally-recognized speaker.

Last fall I, along with the entire staff of Calumet Public Schools, underwent a workshop to learn more of what this is all about. As a veteran teacher of 25 years, I have been to many workshops that claim to be the solution to classroom management and student engagement, so I was very skeptical going into this. I was thinking to myself, here we go again, another day spent listening to presenters tell us how wonderful our classrooms could be if only we followed their advice.

I had things to do to get ready for the beginning of the school year and a two-day training was not at the top of my list of things to do. However, right away this seemed different and I couldn’t quite figure out why. The presenter, Taryn Dismuke came up to me and shook my hand like I was someone important. At first I thought she had the wrong person, but then I noticed she was going around and welcoming everyone that way.

She had my attention, but I also still had my skepticism. I listened. I learned. I practiced.

Capturing Kids’ Hearts is a multi-tiered program designed to help students feel a part of a community as well as to take part in building that community. What was different with this program for me was that instead of giving us a whole lot of theory and it leaving it to me to figure out how to make it happen in my class, Capturing Kids’ Hearts gave us the tools we need and actually showed us how to use them. This was a first for me.

I didn’t have to figure things out for myself. The program gives structure yet allows teachers to be who they are. Taryn, our trainer, actually gave us her cell phone number and made herself available to all of us if we had questions or concerns, and I was impressed by her dedication to us.

I left the two-day session with a renewed sense of urgency to try out these new tools. And I am not afraid to say I struggled. It was new and with anything new comes a sense of discomfort.

With any change it takes time, and comes with growing pains. So when the opportunity came for another one-day session to become a Process Champion, I signed up. This was a more in-depth training and gave us even more ideas of how to implement strategies to capture those hearts.

Here is the moment where I really admired this program. The support did not disappear, as it had with other programs. I have realized that the things we are trying to do to help kids is a process. It won’t happen overnight. Our trainer for the Process Champion portion was Joy Sparks, (which fit her perfectly) is proof of that, as she shared her own experiences with the program and how it took her a year and a half to be fully vested. She validated my own struggles and I know with patience and perseverance, trial and error, this program can and will work.

One of the reasons I chose education as a career is because I love working with young people, and I wanted to make a positive impact on their lives. I know I have succeeded with some, but I also know I did not connect with all of them.

I believe Capturing Kids’ Hearts will close that gap tremendously. It is all about showing kids we care as opposed to just telling them. As an English teacher I have used the phrase “show don’t tell” many times. Telling does not allow for that connection we are looking for. Showing is far more powerful. This is why I will continue to strive toward full implementation. It is worth the effort. I want the last four years of my career to be my best. Now is not the time to be satisfied with the way things have always been done. Now is the time to capture all kids’ hearts. I would like to thank the Portage Health Foundation as they funded this project. This is a program I believe other schools should definitely explore.