Singer Songwriter & Vocal Coach, Lizanne Hennessey - Voice Coach


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Kindness can decrease the drop-out rate in schools.

I just stumbled upon this article today about a school in Walla Walla, WA, USA, where a new approach to school discipline is having a remarkable effect on the dropout/suspension rate:

We talk a lot here about education, and about communication with each other. Kids need space and freedom to talk about what's going on with them, especially when they 'misbehave' and there is any possibility of suspension or dropping out. Something this simple, the act of just 'listening', shows kindness and understanding that kids need to stay in school.

Kindness can decrease the drop-out rate in schools.
Do you agree?

  • Jun 6 2013: Kindness can help in many areas but you also need to have folks work as a team. If classrooms were set up where no one advanced until all were ready, then you would get everyone involved in helping others learn what was needed. No i in team, as they say!
    • Jun 7 2013: That's a fact, Gale.
      Sir Ken Robinson said in his talk, no school is better than the people who work there. It's about the team, which is carefully selected and supported and given space to grow professionally.
      Concentrating on each child's own tempo, and allowing the same amount of space to develop, is what it's all about.
  • Jun 7 2013: I think that a new way to communicate with the students, the establishment of a relationship mentor /teacher - student and a massive amount of empathy should be encouraged. in addition new education techniques should be applied for the digital natives. Especially regarding their short attention span. I believe .


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    Jun 6 2013: well, kindness is crucial in life, in every walk of life. L, I read the article and many of the comments, it sounded good and intriguing. Here's something he didn't address.

    I grew up on kind of a "nice" track, very successful in school, went to the main schools in my city. But in my city there was a very small high school called Daily High, it was right next door to the Board of Education, it was for kids who were having trouble making it in the main two high schools of my city, Hoover High and Glendale High. It's still there, I'm now 53 years old. I was walking by Daily recently and I happened to find a packet of one of the student's papers that I felt he had accidentally dropped on the ground but knew he had dropped them and didn't want them, didn't bend over to pick them back up. So I took them home and read them, it was something of an eye-opener for me, he was writing essays on things like he shouldn't hit the teacher, or spit in the face of the teacher. In this article they are talking about milder things like the kid using the F-word. But would their approach work for more intense things like kids spitting at or hitting the teacher?

    In a way I'm a bad person to comment on this, because I was always in the top classes with kids who were very well-behaved, and this is where I made all my friends, too. How about you, L, what's your educational history, were you with the top kids, or were you on a lower tier? If lower, do you think this would have worked for the kids you knew? Can we who have only experienced the top tier make a good judgement about what will work for people on a lower tier?
    • Jun 7 2013: Absolutely, Greg, 'bad behavior' comes in all shapes and sizes, as does kindness. I think the point of the article, and more importantly the program at this particular school, it so focus on kids who clearly need help, rather than 'dump' them.

      When you say 'the top kids' and 'a lower tier', do you mean academically? I was not the smartest, nor popular. If anyone needed me between lessons or after school, they could find me in the art studio or the band room.
      I was the kid who, when the teacher left the room, had to sit at his/her desk and write down the names of kids ho were misbehaving.
      I was the kid the teacher stuck between two 'difficult' kids, to serve as a road block.
      I was the kid who sat up front and listened, but sort of vanished into the background at the same time.
      I excelled in language, arts and music, and was passionate about pleasing authority, which was enough for me to keep coming back.
      I despised the social aspect, and wasn't good at gossiping or fitting into a clique at all.
      Basically couldn't wait to leave and be 'all grown up'.

      As a mediocre student who excelled in a few areas (language and arts), I know I was a piece of cake for teachers. I happened to be in a large class, more than 30 kids every tear, so things often got chaotic. Finally, my parents put me in Montessori, which I think saved my life!

      I am convinced this method would've worked with the kids I sat between, who were on the verge of getting into a fist fight at any given moment. Instead of taking the responsibility of working with these kids, providing attention and kindness, they were left to their own devices and punished regularly. Their behavior simply went from bad to worse.
  • Jun 7 2013: I think of Lord Byron's Prometheus Thy godly crime was to be kind. Kindness usually seems a good idea to me, but surely there are times..............................
    • Jun 7 2013: George, do you mean kindness that is not genuine, or with ulterior motives?
      Or, do you mean, there are times when even kindness won't do the trick?
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    Jun 7 2013: The vast majority of teachers, I would think, understand this and do it. Administrators typically want teachers to handle disciplinary matters informally and pass along only cases that cross a line.

    When I taught secondary school, cutting class was such a line in the sense of carrying a mandatory penalty, including a call home. Striking another student was call for suspension.. Setting a fire in the classroom was another.

    The vast majority of disciplinary infractions were handled by what is called "in school suspension." That is, the student would be at school doing assignments in a room under the supervision of the building dragon-lady. If a teacher believed that the student could not afford to miss her class, the student could come back to that class, provided he/she was escorted to and from the suspension room for the purpose.

    The supervisor of the suspension room made sure there was assignments from every teacher so the student would not fall behind. If teacher hadn't sent something down, the supervisor would send up an aid to gather an assignment.
    • Jun 7 2013: Wow, Fritzie, this method takes a lot of extra effort and attention, to ensure that student stays in school. Was there only one student at a time in "school suspension"? Is this still common practice?

      Focusing on a kid who needs guidance, is in my mind, also an act of kindness. The kid may not experience it that way, but be grateful later...hopefully!
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        Jun 7 2013: Oh, no. I taught at a school with about 1000 students. There might be a dozen or sometimes more in at a time.

        Educators understand that absence from the classroom causes students to get behind, and being behind tends to cause students to disengage, disengagement causes kids to do poorly, doing poorly leads to not liking school or seeing value in attendance, and not liking school or seeing value in it leads to dropping out.

        I have not checked whether the practice has changed, but I doubt it.For the teacher whose class the student must miss, this requires minimal extra time. It does require an administrator or staff person to supervise, typically while also doing other things.
        • Jun 7 2013: Seems to me, this method has obvious advantages! Besides giving kids necessary attention, it puts a stop to the vicious cycle that ultimately leads to dropping out.
          Is this something that is incorporated in all schools? If not, why isn't it?!
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        Jun 7 2013: I will look into it. The most obvious requirement is someone in the building with the skills and willingness to run a detention/suspension room. Supervising a group of students together who manifest sufficient issues with behavior that they needed to be separated from their peers is one of the most challenging aspects of educated secondary students, and inability to get beyond classroom management issues is one of the biggest distractions from learning and disruptors of educational achievement in the class..

        Here you go:
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    Jun 6 2013: I think the Glasser Quality Schools have an approach similar to what you are saying.

    One of the teachers who commented in my Teacher Appreciation conversation teaches at one such school in Virginia. She really enjoys her job there.

    This is the site to information about Glasser himself and his philosophy of schools.
    • Jun 7 2013: Wow, that is so inspiring!
      This reminds me of learning the difference between spelling 'principle' and 'principal'. The key was, and maybe some of you were also taught this rule, 'principal' is spelled with 'pal' at the end, because he/she is your pal.
      These schools truly embrace that concept! Hats off.
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        Jun 7 2013: I am glad you enjoyed the link.
        Too bad I am so far away from Virginia. I would really love to visit such a school and see firsthand how it works.

        I have shared this quote before:

        Kindness is defined as the quality or state of taking an active interest in the welfare of others; friendly and helpful acts or favors.

        So kindness goes beyond just being seen as a nice person. Kindness is seen in acts of personal interest in others.

        It can be displayed without uttering a single word.
        Sometimes by just placing your hand on someone's shoulder and letting them know you "see" them and are there to stand beside them, you are showing kindness.

        It is no wonder, that for those who want to live a Christian life, the Bible says that Kindness is part of the fruit, or evidence, that one has God's spirit.

        It is a worthwhile trait to cultivate.
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    Jun 6 2013: Every living being thrives on kindness.

    I feel even my potted plants fourish with tender love and care. Ask any gardner he will vouch for it, they need more than air and soil.