A video of a special education class in Florida is getting national attention for all of the right reasons.
Chris Ulmer, a special education teacher and author, posted a video to Facebook earlier this week showing his pre-class routine. Before starting his lessons for the day, Ulmer brings each of his students to the front of the classroom to compliment them, share their strengths with the class and give them a high five.
According to the video, Ulmer’s routine takes only 10 minutes out of the day but has made a world of difference.
“I have seen their confidence and self-worth skyrocket,” he wrote in the caption to the video. “A child’s reality is shaped from early life experience. If they have a mean, jaded teacher they will think [of] the world as mean and jaded. But if a teacher displays love, harmony and peace…THAT will become their norm.”
In an interview with The Mighty, Ulmer says the routine began because many of his students came from traditional classrooms where they rarely received praise. He said just giving simple compliments has given his students the confidence to socialize, both verbally and non-verbally.
“They praise each other for accomplishments as if it was their own,” he added in the video caption. “They never insult one another and actively work towards helping each other.”
Ulmer has also tried to give a voice to his students through a program called “A Special Book by Special Kids,” which gives his students the chance to write their own stories and share their experiences.
Ulmer ends his video with a simple, but powerful message:
“Hate is a learned behavior. Love is natural.”
Alex Hider is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @alexhider.