Marita Morones, M.A., a teacher at Mt. Helix Academy in La Mesa, California, shared this picture of the Growing G.R.E.E.N. InterActions reinforcement tree that she has put in her classroom this year. Marita used lessons and strategies from the Growing G.R.E.E.N. InterActions Social Literacy Program with her class last year and has done a beautiful job of setting up one of its reinforcement components in her classroom again.
I put up the Growing G.R.E.E.N. tree at the beginning of this school year because I want to create a G.R.E.E.N. atmosphere in my classroom (i.e., grateful, respectful, empathetic, easy going, navigating). The tree is a constant reminder of what is valued in the classroom. I refer to the tree throughout the week. Together the kids and I marvel at how the tree is growing. When I dispense a leaf, it is usually a public statement as to why the child is receiving a leaf (e.g., Wow! "Johnny" just stated he needed help and "Suzy" stopped her free time activity to help him! Cool. That's what I call being a friend!). --Marita Morones, M.A.
G.R.E.E.N. behavior is read about, talked about, modeled and practiced in the classroom so students know what the target behavior sounds like and looks like. Students learn how acting G.R.E.E.N. helps the class reach its Common Team Goal of everyone feeling safe and respected so they can do their best learning. An important aspect of the Growing G.R.E.E.N. InterActions Program is reinforcing students for demonstrating any positive interaction behavior.
One of the hands-on tools of the G.R.E.E.N. InterActions program is the set of G.R.E.E.N. Action Reports that are filled out when any positive social behavior is displayed so students can receive specific reinforcement and recognition for exactly what they did that was noticed as being G.R.E.E.N. action and/or the expression of G.R.E.E.N. words. Ms. Morones has been reinforcing her students’ G.R.E.E.N. behavior by filling out a new leaf and putting it on the class’s G.R.E.E.N. tree. Through this reinforcement, the students can feel the positive effects of their Thinking First and acting in Grateful, Respectful, Empathetic, Easygoing and Navigating ways. This is a successful approach for guiding the growth of positive, social behavior and happens to be in alignment with the philosophy at Mt. Helix Academy.
“We are a ‘catch ‘em being good’ school; we teach our students what to do in their classrooms and throughout the school and then we praise them for doing it.”
Here’s to Ms. Morones and her students thriving this year in their G.R.E.E.N. classroom. The tree will be bursting with G.R.E.E.N. leaves as the students demonstrate all of their newly-learned G.R.E.E.N. behavior with each other. May we all continue to strive to “be our better selves in a better world” this year and beyond.
-Herb Hein, MMSc, CCC-SLP