I think of this lesson as the “clear vs. murky lesson.” You get to shock and awe students with food coloring, but more importantly it’s very proactive and ideal for the first couple weeks of school. It introduces taking responsibility for your actions, empathy, and self control all in one. Kids discover that their actions have an impact on others, that their behavior can positively or negatively impact the community, just like the opposite feelings of clear calmness and murky tension. A challenge with behavioral needs in a classroom is the power the behavior of one student has to change the tone, safety, and outlook of an entire room. It is important to remember that this lesson should have a positive vibe. What you say to students matters so much. It’s easy to say, “You’re making the water murky,” when a negative behavior occurs. But stating it positively, like, “Think about how you can contribute good to the classroom,” allows students to think more creatively about optimistically what they have to offer. Future lessons can be taught on exactly how to contribute to the good. I’m thinking of a lesson from The Responsive Classroom entitled Helping Students Give Effective Compliments that will be a perfect follow-up lesson.
Check out "The Responsive Classroom" website linked on the Resources page!