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The Brilliant Way This Special Ed Teacher Starts Class Every Day

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Chris Ulmer first caught our attention earlier this year when he launched “Special Books by Special Kids,” a program that will allow students in his special education class to publish their stories in a book.

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Ulmer, 26, who teaches at Keystone Academy in Jacksonville, Florida, posted a Facebook video showing exactly what goes on in his classroom. The kicker? He spends 10 minutes every morning complimenting his kids and giving them high fives. “I have seen their confidence and self-worth skyrocket,” he wrote in a caption in the video.


Ulmer says many of his students were previously in an educational atmosphere where they felt defeated. “I consider it my job to reverse this psychological hardwiring and build up their esteem,” he told The Mighty. “Simple reminders of their positive attributes shifts student focus from what they can’t do to what they can do.”

“Instead of focusing on deficits I focus on talents,” Ulmer wrote in his Facebook video. “Instead of talking about peace, love and harmony I display peace, love and harmony. 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.”

“The children have become much more social and their communication skills have grown incredibly, both verbal and nonverbal,” Ulmer told The Mighty.

After just a few weeks of complimenting, he noticed his students started complimenting one another regularly. “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.”

Many of his students have also developed the ability to look him in the eye and praise his teaching, which can also be seen in the video.

“Hate is a learned behavior,” Ulmer concluded. “Love is natural.”

Watch the video above and be sure to check out the Facebook page for Special Books by Special Kids, which is updated daily.

Originally published: November 17, 2015
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