I’m all too aware that if you’re going to start a blog, you’re supposed to write regularly for the blog to gain traction. I have an excuse, though. I AM A TEACHER.
That should pretty much say it all, right?! : )
I must admit – the beginning of this school, the adventure of teaching concurrently, the extra expectations that have been added onto teachers’ plates – I have found it to be overwhelming and it’s honestly left me stunned. Having just finished the fourth week of school (after two full weeks of planning and training), I am just now feeling like I’m emerging (sort of) out of a fog.
Yesterday something special happened in my 2nd grade classroom. We celebrated Friendship Friday.
Friendship Friday started a long time ago at the suggestion of a Speech and Language Pathologist who was working with one of my students on social skills. She suggested that I create opportunities in class to specifically teach my students about friendship and how to make new friends. Friendship Friday was born!
I purposefully put students into unlikely pairs and they’re “friends” for the day. Before I pair them up, I frontload on what to do if you get paired up with someone you’re really not expecting and what kind of facial and body expressions are appropriate if you’re actually a little disappointed. For that day, the kids work on assignments together, play at recess together, eat lunch together, and usually get to complete a special activity together at the end of the day.
For most kids, this is a raging success. There’s always a pair or two that struggles to compromise at recess and find an activity that they can both enjoy, but the rest of the class has made a real connection and feels wanted and included for that special day. Friendship Fridays are GREAT days.
This year, I’ve avoided introducing my kids to Friendship Fridays because I wasn’t sure how to bridge the literal divides between physical and remote students. And then there was one! When kids started coming back to school and I was down to one remote student, I knew Friendship Friday was ON.
This past Friday was Friendship Friday and I couldn’t have been prouder of my students. I watched a little boy in my classroom act like it was totally normal for him to have an “online” buddy. They worked together all day using the handy wireless Bluetooth speaker. They played computers games together in the afternoon with my online student screen sharing through Zoom so my physical student could see which game was being played. I heard them offering to let each other go first when they were taking turns talking about things. It was a little strange, but it was even more heartwarming.
There is so much that feels weird at school right now – desk shields, masks, remote students, dry hands from all of the washing and sanitizing (anyone else out there having to moisturize like crazy!?) – but it’s really encouraging to see kids adapting and learning and feeling good. Who knew that desk shields and clothespins could be so handy for creating more desk space? My students are geniuses!
Keep looking for what’s going right, people. Your efforts are making a difference.