Creating Social Value Blog / Service in Action

A Compliment is Verbal Sunshine

This month marks our second month back at the Needham Housing Authority. It’s been a busy month, but overall, a good one. I feel like students really appreciate the help we give them with homework. This year, we started doing compliments at the end of each day, and many of the students say things like “thank you _______ for teaching me this- I got an A on this test ”or“ thank you ________ for helping me with this; I didn’t understand it before, but it’s so easy now.” While we implemented this system to give us a way to publicly compliment good behavior in the students, I think it’s had a surprisingly positive effect for tutors too. Especially when the kids get rowdy or impatient, it is very easy to get frustrated. However, as a volunteer tutor, it means a lot to know that my efforts are not only noticed, but also appreciated by the children we work with.

As always, one of our biggest challenges has been keeping the children focused and behaving well while we are there- especially as the children get older. However, the rule board that we set up at the beginning of the year has been helpful. Whenever one of the children is being rowdy, it helps to be able to walk them over to the board, point out which rule they’re breaking, and remind them that their signature is a binding legal agreement. Jokes aside, I think having a visual representation of the rules the kids came up with is very effective.

Finally, we had our Halloween contest this week. The tutors, especially Antoinette, put in a lot of time to planning the event, decorating the room, and ensuring everything was ready for the party. I think after the event, a few of the tutors were feeling frustrated that the children got a little rowdy, and overexcited. However, the way I saw it, this was because the children were obviously excited for Halloween, but also because they had such a good time at the Halloween party. Speaking for all the tutors, I can say that we had a really good time dressing up, scaring the children, and working on the crafts with them. And I think that while it’d be nice, good behavior and cooperation are not always an accurate measure of the success of an NHA event, but rather, how much everyone enjoyed it.