Tom Cody teaching "TLC" class at Cretin-Derham Hall
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- A roomful of 9th graders at Cretin-Derham Hall High School turn their attention toward the front of the class where teacher Tom Cody keeps up a playful banter with a message, "Raise your hand if you've ever been pooped on?"
Cody heads up what's been dubbed, TLC, or "Thinking, Learning and Communicating," a class that helps students ease the transition from middle school to high school.
"We saw the value in helping kids think about their thinking, which this class does a great job of doing," says Associate Principal Laurie Jennrich.
The class helps students with organizational skills, learning to speak up for themselves, and learning that their actions and reactions have a big impact on what happens to them.
Cody and co-teacher Theresa Haider go over today's lesson: Unexpected, negative, random events.
The message being, those events happen to all of us, and we can choose to play the role of victim, or, as Cody says, recognize it's just our turn to have something bad happen.
"They say it helps with grades and life and all the high school drama," says 9th grader James Onwualu. "I guess as a teenager, you just want to see what they can do to help you with it."
Cody freely admits the class is an "easy A" for students, but he's hoping the message will help students get their heads in the right place to recognize they play the biggest role in what path their life will take.
"My job now is to create relationships and connections and connect all this information for these young people , and help them understand how to make a positive difference in their life with this information," says Cody.
Cody says students are getting information from so many sources now, it's no longer a primary role for him as a teacher. Teaching students how to use that information to their advantage is where he sees the greatest impact.
Cody and a group of fellow educators have taken that idea and have developed a curriculum for teachers and students through Top 20 Training, which has materials and training available for educators as well as students.
"It just kind of exploded," says co-founder Paul Bernabei. "The kids were taking it on and using it in their lives. We began teaching teachers. The first summer we taught four teachers, and now in the last five or six years we've taught about 35,000 teachers all over the country."
Educators and students aren't the only ones taking the class.
Cretin-Derham Hall began offering the class to parents after students started requesting it.
"I took the class when my daughter was in the TLC class," says Jennrich. "It was just extremely valuable, and it was fun to sit down at the dinne table, and walk through what she was learning in class."
Teacher Theresa Haider reads aloud from students' journals, highlighting what students are learning about procrastination and applying themselves.
One boy's entry talks about the hard work he had to put into a math assignment. "I was learning how to have a work ethic, and get things done on time. Math was the least of what I am learning," writes the student.
Haider hands the boy's journal back to him, "That's pretty profound," she says. The boy smiles as he takes in the compliment, and, hopefully, the lesson.
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