This past week went pretty smoothly (as far as end-of-the-grading-periods go). However, I had to deal with two instances of girls telling me that they didn’t have ANY friends in my class. I also found a rather nasty note in the trashcan that had gone back and forth between two of the girls about whose best friend a third girl really was. Time for intervention.
Today, during the last twenty minutes of school, all the boys got to go play soccer outside with the disciplinarian at our school. Is that even a position other schools have? I am very thankful for him. He is an incredibly gentle, yet consistent man who does an excellent job enforcing the rules and getting to the heart of behavior problems. Though he was really just there so I could have time with the girls, I was thankful for the added bonus of the boys getting to spend some very positive time with him.
The six girls stayed inside with me and we sat on the floor and had a chat. First I asked the girls to raise their hand if someone in the room had been unkind to them recently. If someone had lied to them recently? If they thought someone had talked about them in a mean way? If someone had been bossy to them? If they had felt left out? At least half of the girls raised their hand for each question and everyone raised their hand at least once. We agreed we needed to do something to change this.
I encouraged them to stop worrying about who was their best friend and start trying to be the best friend they could be. We talked about how the Bible tells us to love each other, but if we focus on one person or our favorite group of people, then we are not loving others who feel left out. I encouraged them to look for ways they could be a good friend to someone who needs a friend. I also reminded them that a few of them might need to ask for forgiveness or give forgiveness to someone. I know that this is a really important topic because I was still getting ripped to shreds over “best friends” even a few years ago, not because of people being mean to me, but because I took things so personally and felt them so deeply. I am praying that this talk will stick, even if it just helps them take one small step in maturity.
To end our conversation on a positive note, we played a game with a ball of yarn, giving each girl a few chances to pass the ball to another girl and say something positive about her, while holding on to the end of the yarn. We created a fun star shape. I was very proud to hear the things they had observed in each other, such as “being there when I’m sad”, “coming to play with me when I am alone”, “making me laugh”, “standing up for me”, etc. We talked about how they are the qualities we should try to have for those around us.
After praying, I was so happy to hear my Indian student open up and share with the other girls how sometimes she feels left out when they all speak Spanish together at lunch. I know they will still mostly speak Spanish at lunch, but I am happy that she felt comfortable enough to express her feelings (she normally stays to herself) and that the girls were made aware of her feelings and can look for opportunities to include her. We’ll see how this goes!
Photo is my own from the recent 2nd and 3rd grade camp we had. I love those colors!