Unfortunately times have been tough in my class since the school holidays. The students have lost that positive vibe that filled our space throughout term one, have been demonstrating signs of bitterness towards one another and tears have been shed. We have even brought up the cursed and dreaded ‘B’ word.
Today was time to put an end to the negativity. To remember that learning should be fun, and learning is best when we do it together. If one person is unhappy, we can’t succeed as a group. I began the day by pushing the tables to the back of the room, putting all of our chairs in the circle, locating 22 small whiteboards, some whiteboard markers and beginning the day with a recount of a humorous event that happened to me on the weekend, one that I knew would instantly provide my group with energy and an uplifting atmosphere.
One swivel chair was placed in the middle of the circle.
Silence had never been so golden, once I explained our thinking routine for the beginning of the week.
I asked one student to sit in the middle of the circle, and she hesitantly made her way there. I explained that everybody else had a task to undertake – to list one or more things that they appreciate about that person.
‘One thing people always appreciate is being appreciated’ – Unknown
Examples included being kind, helpful, caring, creative, respectful, friendly, sporty and more. Some students were given right to pass, and others were comfortable to give even more reasons for their appreciation. It was a positive, collaborative and honest task that highlighted the thinking and reflective skills that I knew my students had.
Later in the day, we took our collective appreciation even further. I asked my students to consider all of the PYP attitudes. We had a brief discussion about the ways that we, as individuals, demonstrate such attitudes at school and at home. But rather than focus on the self, and continuing our path towards a better appreciation of others, students were asked to think about the ways that others have demonstrated those attitudes. How is your friend curious? Why do you think that person who you have not worked with this term is cooperative?
‘If you want others to be happy, practice compassion; if you want to be happy – practice compassion!’ – Mary Stewbeck
The thinking behind this exercise was that one’s energy and positivity can only be enhanced when it is reciprocal. We all know how to demonstrate those behaviours which make us successful learners, but are we capable of seeing others doing the same in their own way? Even those students who lacked that confidence to share their thinking in the initial exercise were excited to hear what others saw in them, and were encouraged thereafter to do the same.
How do you, as an educator, ‘pick up the pieces’ when they fall down in your learning space?