Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.
Charles Duhigg tells a wonderful story in The Power of Habit about an incident at a Starbucks cafe. A demanding woman ordered a coffee drink. The young, tired, and snarky employee who waited on her wrote something derogatory on her coffee cup. The woman called a local television station, and hours later the video of the story went viral, with millions of views.
Starbucks management did more than just condemn the incident. They took a deep dive into what caused the problem and realized their young employees needed more training, as well as to be empowered to do more to resolve difficult situations with irate customers. They developed the LATTE method, taught employees how to use it, and instituted a small monetary reward for any associate who documented a successful use of the technique. LATTE is an acronym for
Listen to the customer,
Acknowledge the problem,
Take problem-solving action,
Thank them, and
Explain what you’ve done.
The program was an overwhelming success, with stories coming into corporate headquarters from all over the country of happy associates and customers who had been “LATTE’d.” Then a funny thing happened — senior management realized after the program had been in place a few months that there was a glitch in the payroll system. Associates who had sent in successful LATTE stories hadn’t received financial compensation. What was amazing was that not one associate had complained about not being paid as promised. The satisfaction of diffusing anger and solving a problem was reward enough.
If there’s a problem that needs to be LATTE’d almost everywhere, it’s hostility. I recently spent almost a month outside the United States, on a small impoverished island. The most jolting aspect of returning home was seeing so much anger. I realized in a month away that I hadn’t once heard anyone raise their voice. Yet in one day of travel home, I witnessed four screaming matches and a countless number of grumpy people barely making it through their days. A man swearing at his wife. Another yelling at hotel staff that he shouldn’t be charged a parking fee. A woman yanking her crying toddler into a seat.
The anger is so prevalent, it becomes almost invisible, part of the sea of stress many of us are swimming in. And it’s inevitable that we’ll see it spill over into schools. No wonder so many teachers and schools are explicitly instructing children to “choose kind.” We need to remember we almost always have more power than we realize in tense situations. We can listen, acknowledge, and hopefully in small ways disarm those around us with a willingness to help. Surely the wealthiest nation on earth doesn’t need to bank so much hostility.
This week we look at notes and notetaking in classrooms. Plus more as always — enjoy!
Founder, Choice Literacy
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Katherine Sokolowski is assigning shorter research projects in her fifth-grade classroom as a way to help students acquire notetaking skills and understand the boundaries of plagiarism:
Why is Leslie Woodhouse so forgetful? It’s all part of a not-so-devious plot to teach her preschool students the power of creating and leaving notes throughout the classroom:
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Bitsy Parks teaches her first graders to write sticky note reminders throughout the day, and is delighted by the learning and community building that ensues:
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills use a jot lot to turn students’ notes on their learning into instructional plans and assessment:
Ruth Ayres answers a question from teachers, Do I really have to keep conferring notes? Spoiler alert: The answer is yes:
In this week’s video, Katherine Sokolowski meets briefly with a group of fifth-grade girls to go through the notes they are taking for their environmental studies project and talk through next steps:
In an encore video, Sean Moore meets with a group of second graders to remind them how to use sticky notes strategically while they are reading:
That’s all for this week!