I don’t know how long you’ve been reading, or how far back you’ve gone through the post archives, so I’m wondering if I’ve told you about class meetings yet? I wrote about the big idea behind them here, and the story was pretty great. This class is doing an amazing job with class meetings, too. Each week, though, when we sit down together to reflect upon the week and talk over things we want to improve upon, there aren’t really any problems to solve. Oh, come on. No way, right? No really–we had to change the last question on our meeting protocol to “What do you want to talk about?” rather than “What do we need to improve upon?” because of how well these kids work together, learn together and just generally follow the rules and procedures of our school. Don’t get me wrong, they’re not perfect. We do work things out together. This week was an example of two kinds of issues to discuss.
Like class pet petitions, for instance. Here is what the flipchart from this week’s class meeting:
So, see all those dots after “class pets petition?” It meant that several people wanted to talk about that topic. But again, it wasn’t because it was a problem. They just wanted to talk about it. They needed to decide whether or not it was a good idea for Ames to make us an origami class pet, and if so, what type of animal we’d want to have. We decided that Ames (as the origami master of our class) would narrow the list down to four of his best creatures, and we’d vote on the one we liked best out of those four. Then we’ll chat about it again next week.
Ok, so there did end up being a concern they did want to try to work out, and it was related to recess. A question was posed about what to do when you try to play with people and they tell you you can’t. We had a great conversation about strategies to try, words we could use and how it felt when someone told you you couldn’t be a part of the group. The idea of “popular” kids was brought up, and the concern was raised that there are some people in our grade who won’t play with certain kids because they’re friends with certain other people who are considered weird or different. It hurt my heart as I heard them talk about what was going on outside on the playground, and we decided that it might mean we needed a grander conversation. We agreed that we would do what we could to support each other outside–like paying attention to when people are alone and inviting them to play, or standing up for our classmates if we see or hear something mean being done to them–but we agreed that this might be a topic that would be better discussed with our whole grade level. So I have “homework” to coordinate a 5th grade recess conversation in the next few days. This was definitely a problem worth tackling, and one that we want to see solved.