Superhero Capes Encouraging Improved Behavior at Program Site

Rodrick Dickerson, Site Coordinator at Pleasant Mound-Urban Park UMC

If you’ve ever tried to learn, you know exactly why only 21% of the world’s population can juggle. Having less hands than objects, the element that makes learning to juggle so frustrating, is the very thing that makes it such an impressive feat.

When I was taught to juggle, I was instructed to begin by juggling two objects with only one hand (throwing one up just before the other landed in my hand — and so on) and to practice with my right and left hands individually until I had a decent streak with both. Then, I was to add a third object and juggle them with both my hands using the same technique. The secret to learning quickly was finding objects that were similar in size and weight (otherwise the process was prolonged terribly), but small enough to comfortably fit two of the objects in one hand. In a little over two weeks, I managed to be able to juggle fairly well.

That being said, I have found that the dynamics of juggling are much the same as the dynamics associated with my role as a Site Coordinator at Project Transformation. When I wear my “Site Coordinator hat”, I am called to manage relationships, provide academic support, encourage character development, and disciple when necessary. It often becomes a juggling act of sorts, but I am never called to manage it all on my own. Given the variance in my tasks, it can feel like juggling a bowling ball, a puppy, and a giant beach ball; but instead of 2 hands, we have 8 (and sometimes 10 if we’re lucky to have a volunteer or Reading Curriculum Coordinator with us at the program site that day). My teammates have done a wonderful job helping me bear the heavy privilege of being a Site Coordinator.

As a team, we’ve experienced success and failure together. One of our greatest successes has been the use of positive incentives to encourage behavior modification. One incentive program in particular, “The Capes,” has been really motivating among our students. We have created four superhero capes that we reward to the “Leader”, “Learner”, “Listener”, and “Friend of the Week”. These awards are based upon “The 5 Be’s” in the classroom: 1. Be respectful; 2. Be a leader; 3. Be a learner; 4. Be a listener; and 5. Be a friend. Each week, a child is carefully considered for each category based upon their attitude and actions the previous week. Stand-out behavior warrants a child the opportunity to sport a cape each day for the entire week. A child who voluntarily cleans tables after dinner or finds a way to encourage instead of frown upon a fellow student who may have caused the class to lose a privilege is a child who might be honored with a cape.

It is a privilege to wear a cape at “P-Mound” and the children know it better than anyone! Below, you can see our “Learner of the Week” and our “Listener/Friend of the Week” sporting their much-deserved capes!

P-Mound capes 1

P-Mound capes 2


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