Do your students bicker and get on each other’s nerves? As much as you value the “social curriculum” do you feel like you’re just putting out fires all day?
In my early years teaching 3rd grade I was distraught to realize how much of my time went into mediation among pairs or small groups of children. I cared deeply about teaching social responsibility, but I knew these kids could be more independent in resolving conflicts, and even had the sense that my presence was, in many instances, just keeping an argument going that otherwise would peter out or find closure on its own. When we met as a group for various “community meetings” the children could talk a great game, articulating excellent strategies for working through the day-to-day rubs that are inevitable. Yet when “in the moment,” most arguing or hurt children promptly forgot what they knew intellectually and became emotional, sulky, or even spiteful. I also found myself asking the same kinds of questions (“What did you hope would happen?” and “What would you like this person to know?” among others).
With the help of my first two classes, I designed a classroom system that scaffolds the process of resolving a conflict, with minimal teacher involvement. Kids love it because they feel empowered to solve conflicts alone and teachers love it because they are suddenly free to attend to other parts of the curriculum, or to focus on the key issues of the social world of children, those that are behind the daily squabbles.
You will receive the Conflict Resolution sheets that are at the core of the program, along with a description of how the sheets fit into a larger system. This system is rather simple (requiring only a couple of full group meetings to understand), can be implemented at any point in the year, and has been so effective for me and other teachers I’ve known. I’m confident you and your students will appreciate the system’s value.