A Florida teacher is making headlines for his unique, lovely classroom style: he begins each school day with 10 minutes of compliments for his special-needs students. Chris Ulmer begins each day boosting the confidence of his students, whose special needs range from autism to traumatic brain injuries, letting each child know that they are special, capable, and worthy.
Ulmer has been posting videos of his classes to Facebook with the parents’ permission every day, and one posted this past week went viral. Ulmer began the compliment routine after noticing that compliments made his eight students “motivated, happier, and better behaved.”
“[The students] all came from a segregated environment…Now they’re participating in school activities, dancing in front of hundreds of other kids and in the debate club,” Ulmer says. It was important to him that his classroom be a place for students to recover when they felt like they were being treated like outcasts from the rest of the school.
Ulmer hopes to publish a book on his students which focuses on each one’s story and will be told in parts by the kids, their families, and Ulmer himself. He has a Facebook page dedicated to the effort.
Ulmer chooses to focus on talents rather than deficits, he says, adding, “Simple reminders of their positive attributes shifts their focus from what they can’t do to what they can do.” He notes that the children in his classroom have become more helpful and supportive of one another after adding the morning compliments to the school day. “They praise each other for accomplishments as if it were their own,” he says. “They never insult one another and actively work towards helping each other.”
“If a teacher displays love, harmony, and peace, that will become [the students’] norm,” says a caption to the video.