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Monday, 7 September 2015

The Not Perfect Hat Club

Earlier this year I was blessed to connect with Jena Ball and Marty Keltz founders of Criterkin. Jena was an author of numerous children's books and Marty an Emmy award winning producer. As part of this conversation I was exposed to an initiative they they were working on. Their goal was to create a movement that taught emotional intelligence and shows the importance of relationships. This plan was well thought out and put together with the intention to engage a variety of younger audiences.

As the year went on I had multiple virtual visits with Jena and Marty. Jena while she was writing would come and meet my class, sharing the opening chapters of the Not Perfect Hat Club. As expected my class was delighted to meet a published author, which instantly improved their own creativity in writing but the surprising element was how quickly they took on the message Jena had to share. They were able to empathise with Newton, a well breed but abandoned golden retriever. They connected his story of feeling not accepted, failing to do the right thing and not being perfect. They understood the feeling of others talking behind their backs and their desire to be loved for who they are. They connected with Jabber's willingness to befriend, forgive and not listen to the bad things others had to say about Newton.

Late last month, shortly after it was released I got a copy and it has been fantastic! I love that helps me to teach concepts and encourages generosity, respect and acceptance towards others. My children are not wanting to put it down because it speaks to them and to the things that they are dealing with. It says to them that it is okay to be yourself and to be unique. Its all right not to get things always correct because "you are not perfect but perfectly imperfect". By getting things wrong we grow and learn to be better. 

We soon came to know our classroom as a Not Perfect Hat Clubhouse, a place where the students knew their feelings and emotions were safe. A place where they could put their Not Perfect Hats on as they knew they were okay to try and fail because they understood that they would be supported by everyone because it was part of their "First Attempt In Learning." My students are often heard quoting “I have you got my not perfect hat on, have you!”

Some other quotes from Students
"I liked that nobody really cared about what their hat looked like, we were not being teased."
"I used to feel that I needed to be perfect, I used to think that other people were better than me but as we read I realized that I am okay as myself."
"I loved that I can be not perfect, the Not Perfect Hat Club means we can try."
"I liked that Carl accepted Newton and cared for him even though he was not the best dog. My dog does the wrong thing all the time and I still love him. It doesn't matter that he makes the mistakes because this is how he learns!"

I would highly recommend this book and the experience of the Not Perfect Hat Club. It changes the class culture in tangible terms by highlighting to students the grasp of perfectionism.

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