For most students around the world, the school day begins with a roll call, perhaps assembly, before a gradual slide into the routine of class. But one Florida teacher is determined to break the monotony of the school day – not to mention empower his students – by beginning the morning lessons with a session of compliments.
Chris Ulmer, who teaches eight students in his special education classroom at Mainspring Academy in Jacksonville, Florida, spends the first 10 minutes of the day praising his students on their strengths and making them feel good about themselves.
“I love having you in my class. I think you’re very funny. You’re a great soccer player. Everyone in here loves you,” Ulmer says to one kid.
According to Ulmer, beginning the day on a positive note by praising his students – who he has taught for the last three years – has had a remarkable impact on their behaviour and wellbeing.
Ulmer’s class is made up of children whose diagnoses range from autism to speech apraxia to brain injury. “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,” Ulmer told ABC News.
Ulmer launched a Facebook page, Special Books by Special Kids with the hope of having a book published about the children he teaches. While that hasn’t happened yet, Ulmer is committed to sharing his students’ heart-warming stories on social media.
“Mr Chris, you’re the greatest teacher ever,” one student comments at the end of class. It’s not difficult to see why.