Thursday, September 8, 2016

A dear client of our shared the following with us.  We were so moved by it, we wanted
to share it with you. Enjoy!
Hi Angi,
I wanted to share with you my husband's speech to his school district staff because it has to do with Kona. He is the superintendent of the Meridian school district and this is an excerpt of his "kick-off the year" speech to all district staff. He projected a picture of Kona on the gym wall as he began his speech.

Baby Kona

Needless to say it has been a busy summer living with a puppy in our house. The cat is really mad.
KONA is always happy, always eager and always excited. 24 hours a day. She is a non-­‐stop bundle of energy, is easily distracted by shiny things, sticks, leaves, things that smell good or things that smell bad, things that move, things that don’t move, dead things and more. She easily loses focus.
What I have learned this summer is that just “wanting” her to “be a good puppy” is not enough. It’s become clear that I need to have a better strategy than “wishing and hoping.”
I first learned this when KONA struggled in the first class at puppy preschool and we were encouraged to get “private” training for her. Of course, I immediately thought, “Yeah. Somebody should teach that dog to behave.” Of course, I found out was that the training is not for the dog, but for the humans (my wife Patty and I) so we could learn how to teach her to “be a good puppy.”
Here are 8 things we learned. You, as educators, may recognize some of these, as we did.
1.     We learned that being intentional is more effective than being reactive.  Telling her what we wanted her to do rather than telling her what not to do is better in the long run.
2.     We learned that she needs to understand what we want her to do if we expect her to do it.
3.     We learned that we needed to break down what we wanted her to learn into small steps. 
4.     We learned that we could not just teach her one time, but that we had to reteach, sometimes many times, before she found success.
5.     We learned that positive reinforcement is effective and works better than punishment.
6.     We learned to look and plan ahead to structure her environment so that she will be successful and to try not to put her in situations where she will not.
7.     We learned that it is unrealistic to expect things to be perfect right away and that there will some mistakes made along the way.
8.     We learned to look for growth over time and to celebrate successes along the way. We haven’t made any color-coded graphs yet or assembled a data team but we have seen measurable growth.
The message is, of course, that puppies like children don’t just learn everything on their own without guidance and support. What the adults in their lives do to guide them is what really matters. Teaching matters. Teaching well matters. 

Thank you for your professional work.  What you do as the adults does make a difference for kids…..and puppies. Have a great year!