Monday, July 14, 2014

Review & Discussion: What's Under Your Cape?

I was so thrilled when I learned that Barbara Gruener from The Corner on Character wrote her first book! Her blog posts are always so inspirational, heartfelt and positive that I looked forward to reading her book this summer.

Yesterday, on my deck with an iced tea, I read the whole book in a few short hours. It was an easy read and met all the expectations I had for it. I'm glad I had my pen out there with me because I was underlining and writing in the margins. Stars went by the ideas that I thought would be really fun to try and of course, my creative juices started flowing. It was, truly, a feel good that was perfect for a summer afternoon.

What did I love about What's Under Your Cape?
  1. I had an immediate connection...Barbara talked about 4-H in the first few pages and I was a 4-H member too! I repeated that pledge in my head before I even turned the page - "I pledge my head to greater thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service, and my health to better living, for my club, my community, my country, and my world!" After all these years, I remembered it. While Barbara's 4-H experiences match with growing up on a farm, our 4-H experiences were cooking, sewing, crocheting, and raising many Seeing Eye Puppies. We entered the things we made in the local 4-H Roundup and in our local fair. Raising the Seeing Eye Puppies brought us the greatest joy -- we had a sense of raise happy, loyal, and obedient puppies who will the be companions of someone who will rely on them someday. It was a tough job....but a worthy job. And, who doesn't love puppies!!!
  2. The Chapter Titles - each first letter put together to spell out "Superheroes." At first, I thought she was going to say that the "superheroes" were school counselors (ha ha - is it so wrong that I think of myself in this way sometimes - I sometimes feel like I need to be a superhero to accomplish all I need to). But, I quickly found out that "superheroes" are our students. But then I got to thinking, these young "superheroes" grow up. Today's "young superheroes" are around us everywhere and the "young superheroes" from back-in-the-day have become our friends and family around us, our colleagues, teachers and school counselors. In an instant, we can see if an adult (somewhere and at sometime) fostered the strengths and superpowers of today's "young superheroes" and the now "seasoned superheroes."
  3. I loved the examples of how each character word was used at Barbara's school. These examples were just enough to show me (the reader) how these skills were taught and in return got my creative mind going! Some ideas were simple, yet powerful and some required more work. I tend to go big...but I was reminded that "bigger isn't always better!" Simple and powerful -- hmmmm -- like that for a go-to phrase for this school year!
  4. As I continued to read the book, I kept thinking how Barbara's family members, friends, and colleagues who were mentioned in the book must be feeling. Barbara's genuineness made this book come across as one giant "thank-you note" to those folks who have been the superheroes for others. Reading all the personal stories made this book really come to life.
  5. I was so thankful for all of the children's literature recommendations to use for each character word! I love children's literature and use it very, very often. Kids love being read to and my students know that I will be bringing them great books with meaningful messages to my core core curriculum lessons. While I have many of the books found in WUYU?, I had to add a whole bunch of Barbara's recommendations to my "wish list." 
  6. The list of characters (one for each chapter) is comprehensive and describe those "soft-skills" that we want our students to learn in order to be college and career ready. Then I think of what our school environments would look like if each and everyone of these were fostered in our kiddos. This book was a gentle reminder of how to weave in these concepts throughout the school day.
  7. Finally, within the midst of all the frameworks and programs we do at school (SWPBIS, Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, PATHS, school counseling core curriculum, etc.) there are many more ways to weave in character education. When I think about it, my students actually showed this to me first hand this past school year. Two of our SWPBIS incentives involved "SERVICE." Students worked hard for a whole month to earn the incentive of making a bracelet and writing a heartfelt note for a Meals on Wheels recipient. Also, they made a bracelet to give to a classmate. In another month, my students worked hard to be ready to learn, a role model and a super student in order to earn the incentive of beautifying our school grounds. Kids weeded, spread mulch, made bird houses, painted birdbaths, made bird feeders, made stepping stones, planted grass, and picked up trash. They LOVED both of these events and they were willing to make good behavioral choices in order to earn the privilege. They were telling me, through their response, that they are ready for MORE of this sort of thing. ALL students (whether earned or not) need to have these simple and powerful superhero experiences!!

I highly recommend this book to school counselors and other educators. It's a book that will make you smile, but also make you do all sorts of brainstorming in your head. 

Thank you, Barbara....can't wait for Book #2!!


1 comment:

  1. Puppy LOVE! I am swooning thinking about you and 4-H and those precious pups! Thank you for connecting with me in this way.

    I appreciate your kind reflections and have tweeted and pinned your thoughts. I especially like the SUPER graphic you made for me and my new release.

    And I can't wait until we meet in real life and talk 4-H over coffee or tea!

    Be blessed as you bless,