11 ways to bring out your students’ super powers


Teaching | Monday, August 17, 2015

11 ways to bring out your students’ super powers

Helping students find their strengths -- their "super powers" -- can change them forever. Use some of these strategies to see big changes! (Photo via Nili Bartley / Take It to the Classroom)

Helping students find their strengths — their “super powers” — can change them forever. Use some of these strategies to see big changes! (Photo via Nili Bartley / Take It to the Classroom)

Want to stop bullying, improve the classroom and school climate and improve achievement all at the same time?

Help your students become superheroes.

Using the SuperYou FUNdation curriculum, teachers are helping students empower themselves and become the best versions of themselves. They’re seeing children transform into better people as well as better students.

You can see these results in your own classroom or school, too, by requesting the SuperYou curriculum or by using the strategies mentioned below.

Two years ago, Lourds Lane, the book, music, and lyrics writer of the Broadway-bound musical “Chix 6,” volunteered at an inner-city school in Harlem on her days off from the stage. She saw a desperate need for self esteem and confidence in those students. She started helping them find their inner superheroes, which is the defining theme of her musical, and was  encouraged by the results in behavior and classroom performance.

The SuperYou curriculum was born. It helps students identify their best positive character traits and the ones they aspire to develop in themselves. Then it carries those positive messages into the classroom and integrates with the school curriculum.

“It’s not about bashing and smashing things. It’s not about hurting ourselves or others. It’s about getting to know who you are,” Lourds said in an interview with Ditch That Textbook. (Click here or see the embedded video in this post to hear more.)

In the classroom, empowering and affirming students’ perceptions of themselves isn’t touchy-feely fluff. Nili Bartley, an elementary teacher who used the program and says the results are tangible.

One student ran a 5K race and struggled to finish but called on her superpower to persevere.

Other students wrote their superhero names on math tests to gain confidence.

“If you have one ounce of doubt when you’re wanting to take a risk as a student, you have a whole team of superhero classmates right there ready to encourage you and the doubt just sort of disappears,” Nili said.

Lourds recalls a story of a troubled student who was so disruptive, an aide was assigned to work with him in class. Students identified their positive character traits in class. When it was his turn, he said, “I’m evil.”

The students disagreed. “No, you’re funny. You’re smart.” He beamed.

The next day, instead of causing trouble, he was helping others. Students noticed and gave him SuperYou stars to reward him.

It changed him and altered the classroom climate for the rest of the year.

“He wasn’t disruptive in class anymore,” Lourds said. “He just needed a little love.”

Ready to make that kind of impact in your classroom or school? The SuperYou curriculum can be requested at www.superyoufun.org. Or, you can try some of these strategies Lourds and Nili suggested:

  1. Let students discover their superpowers and choose a superhero name.
  2. Let students identify their own positive character traits.
  3. Help other students identify their positive character traits.
  4. Identify real-life superheroes (dad, mom, firefighter, etc.). “They see these real people and all of a sudden it hits them — Wait a minute, I’m a real person. I can be a superhero too,” Nili said.
  5. Give students opportunities to incorporate their super powers and superhero names in art and/or writing.
  6. Create a SuperYou wall to display the students’ traits and personas.
  7. Create a Superhero of the Month program to recognize outstanding student growth.
  8. Skype with other classes (or Lourds, if she’s able) to reflect together. Nili said her classes were energized by talking face-to-face with the founder of SuperYou.
  9. Create SuperYou journals to reflect on changes, struggles and successes.
  10. Connect younger students with older mentors to reinforce the empowerment and self-worth.
  11. Help students create a video that displays and celebrates their progress.

Helping students become superheroes can be one of the most powerful things teachers do for their students, Lourds said.

“When everyone becomes a superhero and everyone’s holding each other accountable for that … everything starts shifting.

Additional content to check out about SuperYou and empowering students’ super powers:

[reminder]What other strategies are successful in building super-hero students? What success stories can you share?[/reminder]

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