A Rainbow in the Clouds

When Angie Jerabek first piloted the BARR model in 1999, she knew she wanted to create a strength-based education model that responded to students’ need for kindness, care and support from their teachers—especially those living in high-risk environments.

As part of the model, she developed an SEL curriculum called “I-Time,” a 30-minute weekly lesson facilitated by the cohort’s core-subject teachers which helps students build strong relationships with teachers and each other.

The I-Time exercise, “A Rainbow in the Clouds,” was inspired by Maya Angelou’s quote, “The thing to do, it seems to me, is to prepare yourself so you can be a rainbow in somebody else’s cloud.” Angelou challenges us to think about the ways we can lift someone’s spirits when they’re down, how we can brighten their day with kind words or be their support when they’re falling, much like teachers do for their students each and every day.

To be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud, one must be supportive, understand their social competencies, use opportunities for positive social involvement, and create a bond and attachment to the school.

Ask yourself, “Who has shown me kindness or been there for me during a tough time? What did that person do to make me feel noticed, cared for and supported?”

It can be anyone—a parent, a guidance counselor, a friend—anyone who’s helped strengthen you during your time of need. It’s important for us to recognize the value of those lessons and kind words, so that we can do the same for others.

Angelou reminds us, “People will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Again, she challenges us to think about the role we’ve played in other people’s lives—whether our actions are a good reflection on ourselves and if we’ve made a lasting, positive impact on others.

Our team facilitated this exercise at the 2018 BARR National Conference, where we asked attendees to describe someone who showed them kindness. People used words like trustworthy, considerate and insightful to describe the rainbows in their clouds. As teachers and school administrators, we must never lose sight of the moments that shaped who we are today, like pep talks from our favorite teacher during the college application process or an athletic coach who helped us gain confidence.

At the end of the exercise, we asked everyone to write down the ways they’ll be kind to others. Their plans were to be more encouraging, better listeners, helpful and more optimistic.

How will you be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud?

Learn more about the BARR model’s I-Time curriculum.

Request a BARR implementation timeline and sample I-Time classroom activity.