In every classroom there are students who don’t quite fit in. They may be more mature than their peers, or less mature than their peers.
They may dress differently.
They may learn differently.
They may laugh differently.
Sometimes they may BEHAVE differently.
It doesn’t take much a for a student to ostracize themself from their peers. How do you foster relationships? How do you help students with social skills? Students without siblings, or in a new environment may need some additional support. A former co-worker I had used to do “Lunch Bunches” where once a month she’d bring in students that needed social skill help along with some of the more established students, and try to develop relationships.
I saw an article posted on Facebook from a friend. It was such a great example of how important dealing with some of these ostracized students can be, and why as a teacher, it should be on your radar too.
Every Friday afternoon C’s teacher asks her students to take out a piece of paper and write down the names of four children with whom they’d like to sit the following week. The children know that these requests may or may not be honored. She also asks the students to nominate one student whom they believe has been an exceptional classroom citizen that week. All ballots are privately submitted to her. And every single Friday afternoon, after the students go home, C’s teacher takes out those slips of paper, places them in front of her and studies them. She looks for patterns.
Who is not getting requested by anyone else?
Who doesn’t even know who to request?
Who never gets noticed enough to be nominated?
Who had a million friends last week and none this week?
You see, C’s teacher is not looking for a new seating chart or “exceptional citizens.” C’s teacher is looking for lonely children. She’s looking for children who are struggling to connect with other children. She’s identifying the little ones who are falling through the cracks of the class’s social life. She is discovering whose gifts are going unnoticed by their peers. And she’s pinning down- right away- who’s being bullied and who is doing the bullying.
You can read the whole article here. (She also talked about what a “Love Ninja” this teacher was, which has given me a whole new goal in life. I want to be a LOVE NINJA!) There are students who truly need our help to be connected. They need to know how to be a friend in order to have a friend. I shared with a teacher this week how absolutely eye-opening it was for me in high school when a boy I wanted to ask to a Sadie’s Hawkins dance told my friend that I was “too immature” for him. It was such a self actualization moment for me….I had no idea. Students can be completely unaware of how they are coming across to their peers and it falls to us to help them see.
Look at your classroom…or your staff, this week. Are there connections to be made? Is someone slipping through the cracks? I challenge you to help make the unlovable feel loved.