“3, 2, 1, care to share?” This is the way that we begin each class in SEED 6, our sixth grade social emotional learning course. In a time and place where abnormal is the new normal, ritual and routine are more important than ever.
I have found this particular ritual to be extremely effective with the sixth graders I teach. The activity is simple. Each student is asked to rate their current state of mind (3 - it’s a good day, 2 - it’s ok, 1 - something is bothering me) and given the space to share more if they so choose. Students participate at the level in which they are comfortable, without judgment. Some students will simply give a number, others associate some brief details such as an upcoming test or sport event, while others will specify they are a “2.6745 because their aunt’s poodle is coming to visit but they got a paper cut last night” or something to that wonderful, detailed effect. The floor is theirs, the audience is listening, and oftentimes, the peer support between students amazes me.
As we go through our routine, I hope that the children gain a quiet lesson in diversity, equity, and inclusion. From student to student there is always going to be a different set of guidelines as to what constitutes a “3,” “2,” or “1” kind of moment or day. We must recognize that, to each person, what they share is significant and drives their feelings in that moment, even if it wouldn’t have the same impact on another person. In class we respect what is shared and acknowledge when a peer might benefit from a little extra support in their day.
Middle School is a time of physical and emotional growth and transformation, but the process that each child goes through is uniquely beautiful, messy, and complex. Through our conversations in sixth grade SEED, I hope that my students are learning to acknowledge that for themselves and building the skills to accept that when it comes to others.
I am constantly impressed by the level of thoughtfulness our children give to the class. I am learning just as much from them, as they are learning from me and from one another as we move through this year.