A Simple Assignment a Teacher Uses to Help Her Students Socially

The bully in calvin & hobbes comic stripNews story after news story about today’s children will talk about one of two things: obesity and bullying. Very often an obese or bullied child is a lonely child.

Until fourth grade I was one of those lonely and bullied children. Then when my family moved to a new neighborhood, another new kid my age saved me because he knew how to be popular and he took me along. Perhaps I could have been saved from my torment earlier if I had a teacher like the math teacher Glennon Doyle Melton wrote about in her blog, at momastery.com.

Even though the story was retold at the Huffington Post site and in Reader’s digest, I was so impressed with what that teacher did that I have to repost it. Here’s the core of the story:

Every Friday afternoon, she asks her students to take out a piece of paper and write down the names of four children with whom they’d like to sit the following week. The children know that these requests may or may not be honored. She also asks the students to nominate one student who they believe has been an 
exceptional classroom citizen that week. All ballots are privately submitted to her.

And every single Friday afternoon, after the students go home, she takes out those slips of paper, places them in front of her, and studies them. 
She looks for patterns.

Who is not getting requested by anyone else?

Who can’t think of anyone to 

Who never gets noticed enough 
to be nominated?

Who had a million friends last week and none this week?

You see, Chase’s teacher is not looking for a new seating chart or “exceptional citizens.” Chase’s teacher is looking for lonely children. She’s looking for children who are struggling to connect with other children. She’s identifying the little ones who are falling through the cracks of the class’s social life. She is discovering whose gifts are going unnoticed 
by their peers. And she’s pinning down—right away—who’s being bullied and who is doing the bullying.

This should be done at every elementary, middle, and high school. At the beginning of every school year the school administration and teachers meet. I’d love to see this put on the agenda so that the teachers can work out how best to do this.
During the short time I was a teacher (student teaching and substitute), I could tell which kids were lonely, depressed, and probably being bullied. I just didn’t know how to do anything about it. I love that Glennon Melton’s son’s teacher found a way to do something about it.

Originally written by Glennon Doyle Melton on her blog at Momastery.com


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