The Beginning of MYD?


This program started about 30 years ago and was developed initially based on the ideas of the students with whom I worked at Greenway Middle School, Paradise Valley School District in Phoenix, Arizona.  The principal, Bob Dietrich, provided a supportive professional environment that allowed Make Your Day to develop.  I taught a classroom of middle school boys who were placed there because of extreme behavior problems.  Cooperatively, we designed a program that helped them be successful in school.  Thousands of students and teachers have been a part of continuing this program in order to improve learning and safety in their schools.  The philosophical underpinnings have remained intact; however, refinements in the implementation have come as the result of on-going feedback from educators, students, and parents.  The following is the abbreviated version of how Make Your Day came to be.


In designing rules for the classroom, the boys came up with about 70 rules to cover all situations but we decided that would be too many to remember.  We decided all the rules could fit under "No one has the right to interfere with the learning, safety or well-being of others." "No one“ vs. “a student” means that everyone, including adults, has equal responsibility in maintaining a school climate that supports learning in a physically and emotionally safe environment.


After a bit of time with using this rule, the students said to me.  Sometimes, we're going to interfere with other's learning.  Instead of embarrassing us by pointing at us, giving us "the look," or telling us to stop in front of everyone, could you just privately ask as to take some time away and give us some time to think about what we did.  After a few minutes, just ask us privately if we need more time.  Since we chose to sit away by interfering with other's learning, we'll know if we need some more time to think.  That's how Steps began.


These students worked very hard on their schoolwork and on their behavior; however, they didn't get recognition for that.  Many couldn't make honor roll even if they worked their hardest; many weren't popular so they weren’t elected to student council; they stayed home when they were sick so they didn't receive perfect attendance awards; and many had a hard time with team sports so they couldn't get recognition that way.  They wanted their efforts to be recognized, so they thought of a way to address this.  At the end of each period, they wanted to evaluate their own efforts at "doing what was expected, the best they could."  Since the periods were 45 minutes long, they evaluated themselves based on being able to earn 45 points per period.  They thought of it as starting out with "0" points and earning up to 45 points.  They took credit for what they did and took responsibility for any problems they had.  For example:  "43.  I was proud of the work I did on my math this period, but when you were giving directions I talked to my neighbor."  That's how Points began.

 

After a time, a student came up to me and told me something very important about his friend.  He said that his best friend, John, wasn't always honest with his points.  Sometimes John interfered with other's learning, but didn't take responsibility for that in points and he knew that John wouldn't last very long in high school if he didn't learn to stay on track.  He asked me, "If John isn't honest with his points and he interfered with my learning, can I help him by reminding him about it and giving him some ideas about how to do better."  That's how Concerns began.

 

I left the classroom in June, 1981, in order to teach other special education teachers how to use the program that had developed.  In 1988, Joel Davidson at that time a principal at Mountain View Elementary School in Washington School District, Arizona approached me with the idea of training the entire school staff to implement this program on a school-wide basis.  Based on the success at Mountain View Elementary School, other schools asked to receive training in order to implement Make Your Day.  To date, the program has spread simply based on referrals from educators who use the program, parents who feel it has positively impacted their child’s education, and students who feel that Make Your Day provides them with a physically and emotionally safe learning environment.