We’ve been spending a great deal of time in the first two weeks of school talking about friendship. It’s been the focus of our Morning Meetings. We’ve been talking about it throughout the day, showcasing examples that we see in each other and examples that we read about in books. We’ve been talking explicitly about how to make friends and how to be a good friend. We have reflection circles at the end of every day where we talk about how our adventure in friendship went that day.
Every day I post the share question outside my classroom door for the children to read on their way in. This gives them a “heads up” about what we will be sharing so that when we get to Morning Meeting, they already have ideas in mind. The shares this past week have all been related to friendship. “Why is friendship important to us?” “What is something you look for in a good friend?” “What does this statement mean? ‘To have a good friend, you have to be a good friend.'” “Have you ever felt left out? What happened?”
So far it seems to be working. This year, I have kids that seem happier and closer with each other than ever before. Four of the kids didn’t go to our school last year (one is new to the state and one is new to the country and doesn’t even speak English). All four of those kids already have a “best friend” in our class, according to them.
I plan to continue talking about friendship each day for the next several weeks. Our read aloud books and guided reading books are all connected to friendship, hopes, and goals. This week, we are going to write about friendship, make lists about things we want in a friend and things we do for our friends, and make signs with specific strategies for how to make and keep friends. As the year progresses, we will revisit the topic of friendship with strategic discussions such as “What happens when we disagree with our friends?”, “What do I do when my friend and I are fighting?”, “How can I be friends with more than one person?”, “What if my friend is a bad influence on me?”, etc.
I’m interested to see if having these open discussions about friendship and problem-solving friendship conflicts will help reduce the amount of drama that has been steadily increasing each year in the third grade!