I frequently find myself talking with teachers and administrators about the core principles of the Boys Town Education Model®. I emphasize that the change agents of this Model aren’t the skill posters, or Skill-of-the-Week announcements, or even the sophisticated motivation system we use with high need students… these are just tools. Effective tools, but just tools. Rather, I note that the magic of this Model is in the teaching… the frequent and intentional use of teachable moments to help a child learn and grow.
In truth, I believe the magic of our Model goes far deeper. Fundamentally, this Model works because we recognize that all children are unique and irreplaceable human beings first. It works, because we choose to care about them, even when their behavior makes it difficult. We choose to show up every day to help children develop because we believe in the dignity, value, and potential of all children.
We want each child we work with to know we see them as:
Unique: they bring their own talents, challenges, history, and personality. We try to get to know them so we can both appreciate them and teach them more effectively.
Valuable: we recognize that each child has dignity simply because they are a human being and they were born with gifts that the world needs.
Teachable: we recognize that every child can learn… they may not learn the same or as quickly as someone else, but they can learn.
Part of the Community: A school is a community with a lot of diversity. We recognize that we are stronger when we learn to appreciate and work with each other and we recognize that takes both the will to do so and specific skills to make it work.
We recognize that each student (and adult) in a community is human and mistakes will be made. We teach skills, apologies, and restorative practices to help everyone learn how to recover from mistakes and avoid them in the future.
For students who struggle, this can be new information. They may not see themselves this way. Children who have experienced unpredictable or uncaring adults or childhood trauma may not trust us yet. They may test us. They may get distracted or frustrated. They may give up on themselves. As caring adults, we continue to strive to see the person under the behavior. Each day, we:
See difficulty ahead and attempt to prepare them.
Act as a mirror, reflecting the best in a child, so they can see their successes too.
Help them see where they went wrong, how they can fix it, and the costs involved.
Help them manage difficult and hard to control emotions and empathize with them when they struggle with the same challenges every day.
When we don’t know what else to do… we collaborate with our team, collect data for clearer insight, and try to come up with a better way to help them.
Through it all, we remain committed, caring adults who show up every day to help a child learn and grow… that’s who we are. It’s who we have been for 100 years.