Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Good Friends

Today I was not allowed to stream the videos that I wanted my students to use for our C.A.R.E. meetings because apparently it interferes with the testing that our students do on the computer 3 times a year. Instead, at the last minute, I decided to put up two pieces of chart paper to assess where we are now that there are only 4 full weeks of school left and many of my students will be moving on to greener pastures (aka the middle school) next year.

The chart paper said, "I Learned" and "I Want."

Students were first asked to make a list of everything that they'd learned about bullying, respect, etc. over the year. They were slow to start (1st thing on a Tuesday morning sometimes I'm lucky to get them awake enough to speak at all) but by the end we were cramming things into the margins of the page. Then we got to truth time..."I want." I have asked my students to really look at themselves this year and come up with goals (several times in fact) in order to become better people.

As in many grade levels, my students are still often of the persuasion that you only don't do bad things because you'll get in trouble, and that you only do good things because you'll get rewarded in some way (even if the reward is *sigh* not getting into trouble). I've started a revolution of personal responsibility and being a good person because it matters. Some of them have taken well to it, others are stuck in a Tuesday morning mentality. Either way, I feel like it's important so I persevere.

A couple of my more deep and introspective kids were able to express some of the things that they want to do better in the future (especially after being given copious examples, including one from my own life.) Most of them wanted to do the one thing that infuriates me more than anything, ask what happens when other people do bad things to you.

At one point I practically screamed "personal responsibility!" before I realized that the same was coming up over and over again. "Miss Teach, what do I do if I ask someone nicely to stop what they're doing but then they get mad at me?" "Miss Teach, what happens when someone that you are friends with always tells you what to do even if it's something you don't want to do?" "Miss Teach, what if someone tells you they aren't going to be your friend anymore unless you do what they say?"

Are you noticing the same theme? I added two goal to the "I Want" paper.
1) I want to communicate more clearly with my friends.
2) I want to make and keep GREAT friends.

I found myself coming up with the same answer every time. Instead of pushing your friend or yelling at them, ask them nicely to change their ways. If they respond poorly to kind wording and friendly reasoning, FIND YOURSELF SOME NEW FRIENDS. Leave, walk away from the situation, hang out with people that you actually like!

Now, I had the same problem as a 5th grade girl. I remember them well. This is really nothing new and all part of the socialization process. But my students need to understand something. Sometimes I don't want to tell my friends something because I know they won't like hearing it, but I have NEVER been afraid of telling them things because they are going to leave me. Furthermore, some of those very friends that I'm referring to are friends that I've had since 5th grade. So, with good training, I have to believe that for them this stage too shall pass.


  1. I love your chart idea of "I learned" and "I want". What a great way for kids to self-evaluate!

  2. Thanks! It was so last minute but I'm actually really happy and impressed with the way that it worked out in the end and the direction it's going to take us for the rest of the year!