We are all familiar with the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. But in the case of bucket-filling, a positive reinforcement program that works well in classrooms, the Golden Rule should be revised to “Do unto others as they would have you do unto them,” in other words, treat people the way that they want to be treated, or treat them in ways that are valuable to them.
You’re probably thinking, How in the world can I treat 23 students individually and personally at any given time? Hold on! Essentially, all we are asking you to do is know your students. The more you know about what makes your students tick, the better able you will be to “fill their buckets. “
Dr. Donald O. Clifton’s book How Full is Your Bucket asserts that often it is what we recognize in others that actually helps them shape their identities and future accomplishments. Constantly referring to a child as funny, or shy, or outgoing can reinforce what that child thinks of him or herself. Teachers have the access and unique power—every day— to tell a child that he is a good writer, or a capable scientist, or an excellent athlete. These often unintentional individual recognitions, for better or worse, plant the seeds that can affect decision-making down the line. So make sure the seeds you plant are always for the better. (No pressure!)
The book outlines some key questions we’ve adapted for students to find out the best ways to fill their buckets:
1.By what name do you like to be called? Nickname?
2.What are your hot buttons—hobbies or interests you like to talk about a lot?
3.What makes you feel great when you’ve achieved something special?
●Receiving a certificate with your name on it?
●Note from teacher?
●Note from Mom, Dad or Grandparent?
●Announcement to the whole school over the PA system from the principal?
●Pizza for the whole class?
These insights can help teachers decide the best ways to fill their students’ buckets, to make recognition individual and meaningful whenever possible. Before long, you will see positive results in your classroom and you will have fostered a much more cooperative classroom climate.
Clifton reminds us that we all face a choice every single moment of every single day. We can fill one another’s buckets, or we can dip from them. The choices we make can profoundly influence our relationships, our health and our ability to be productive in the classroom or on the job. He cites a Gallup poll that estimates there are “…more than 22 million workers in the United States alone who are extremely negative or "actively disengaged." This rampant negativity is not only disheartening, it's expensive: It costs the U.S. economy between $250 and $300 billion every year in lost productivity alone.”
Let’s do our part by starting early and modeling for our students what positive behavior looks like and even sounds like. Before long, they will understand what it feels like to be a positive, productive person, and it can make all the difference in the world to your classroom community.
Begin the New Year on a positive note! Download our Guide to Successful Bucket-Filler Techniques and let your imagination be your guide on how to best introduce this concept to your students.