I love starting class by asking each person to say his or her name and answer the question: “What’s one piece of good news?” We sometimes clap and cheer after whatever it is people announce. I love this “Name Game” because it changes the atmosphere in the classroom; it makes us somehow more creative and receptive to new ideas and new styles of writing.
I don’t have any research to back up my claim here, but I will report that positive, grateful atmospheres change my writing instruction and their receptivity. Sometimes it’s difficult to reframe something to find something good, but when we do, it’s a wonderful way to start off a class, a conversation, a dinner, or any kind of meeting.
And it’s especially marvelous to approach teens with this question before they begin the onslaught of everything going wrong. Instead, I’ll ask: “What went right today? What’s one piece of good news?”