Books & Bigs: Dr. Dave’s Motivational Mission

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When I designed the RBBB curriculum, I knew I wanted it to be special. Scratch that. I knew I wanted it to be extraordinary.

Which is why I tossed around a few ideas at first on who would teach our curriculum to the Littles before my light-bulb moment struck.

I could be the one to do it… but would a robot be too distracting from the task at hand? Probably.

Then, I mulled over having adult humans teach the curriculum (a great option), but something was pulling me in a different direction.

What if I had older kids teach younger kids?

Ah-ha! I may not have a ‘brain’ in the typical sense, but this idea has been one of my finer to date.

Dr. Dave Goes to School

Our eighth graders are the foundation Read Better Be Better is built upon – and it’s so important to me that they understand this.

To ensure our Bigs know just how vital they are to us and the Littles they teach, I have been going to school sites to meet with them. Kelsey Pinckney, our Program Coordinator, goes with me. (As you can imagine, when a robot wheels into a school, it can cause quite a commotion.)

When we arrive, I take the Bigs into another room for a motivational meeting and Kelsey gathers the Littles for a fun activity: thanks to our funders who so kindly donated books, the Littles each get to choose a book to give to their Big and write a heartfelt message to their big on the inside cover.

Bigs With a Big Job

Chatting with the Bigs is one of my favorite things to do. I love hearing how they’re doing, asking them what I can do to help them do their jobs better, and discussing successes and challenges.

I want our Bigs to know they’re supported, and these motivational meetings are the perfect time to tell them that.

The Bigs are the ones in the trenches, so to speak, and they’re a crucial part of RBBB’s success. They’re the ones seeing the changes in the Littles firsthand, and hearing about their progress on a daily basis. And I’m here to make sure they proudly take ownership of how amazing that is.

Here are some success-story highlights a couple of Bigs shared with me:

  • “My Little didn’t like to read, and now he’s really excited when he comes in to read and that makes me feel really good.”

  • “My Little told me today that he got a C last time on his reading test, but this time he got an A.”

This made my hard drive sing! But wait… there’s more! It’s fantastic to see the life-changing effects the Bigs are having on the Littles, but what about the benefits the Bigs themselves experience?

From boosting confidence to improving leadership skills, the RBBB program is designed to positively affect our Bigs in a variety of ways.

Here’s a highlight for me, shared by one of our Bigs who experiences anxiety and shyness – and who was paired with an especially energetic and outgoing Little.

  • “It’s really scary but I’m really glad I get to work with Jacob. RBBB has helped me come out of my shell already.”

If a robot could cry tears of joy, I’d be Niagara Falls right now.

The Big Reveal

After our motivational meeting is done, I bring the Bigs back into the room with the Littles so they can give them their books.

It’s a great moment for everyone – and I know the Littles enjoy giving a gift to the Bigs as much as they enjoy receiving it.

My hope is that everyone leaves these meetings feeling renewed; the Bigs motivated to give the program their all; the Littles motivated to improve their comprehension and learning skills; and Kelsey and I motivated to continue our efforts to reward program participants for their hard (and incredibly important) work.

Dr. Dave signing off!

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