Each month I visit every classroom K-5 for a half hour lesson on various topics throughout the year. Lessons are interactive and incorporate SmartBoard lessons, books, videos, arts and crafts, whole-class discussion, teamwork, individual work, and student volunteers. Additionally, they follow a monthly theme set for the school so that all students receive similar/related information to create a cogent guidance curriculum. Lesson format and topics are adjusted to be appropriate for each grade level to meet students where they are developmentally and socially. Some guidance topics I have taught are described below:
October is National Bullying Awareness Month and as such, lessons about bullying are provided to all students. Kindergartners start with the basics - what is a bully? As they move to other grades the learn what to do if you are being bullied and how to stop bullying if you see it - this is called being an upstander! By fourth and fifth grades we are talking about cyberbullying and peer pressure. Throughout all grade levels, definitions and responses to bullying are reviewed. We also discuss the difference between bullying and a 'mean moment'. Mean moments commonly happen when we are tired or mad/sad about something else and we respond negatively to others without intention. They are also usually a single mean event wherein the individual apologizes and does not do it again. Bullying, on the other hand, is repeated acts that are intended to hurt, embarrass, or isolate another person or group of people.
This is one of my favorite topics to teach because I get to do so many fun activities with students that really excite them! In grade 2 we make 'Friendship Pizzas' where students work in teams and list things good friends say and good things friends do on their pizza toppings. We then have a discussion about how those actions and words make us feel (sometimes students need a reminder that if a friend doesn't make us feel good, they may not be such a good friend after all). Pizzas are then displayed in the hall and are so fun to read! In grade 3 we make 'Compliment Plates'. Students are each given a blank paper plate that has a string attached to it in a loop. They are asked to put the plate around their neck and with it hanging on their back. They are then asked to write anonymous compliments on peers' plates, but cannot look at their own until the end. Students have created compliment trains where four or five students are lined up writing on each other's plates! When time is up, I send them to their seats and give them a minute to read all of the compliments they were given. It sounds silly, but it is amazing to see all the smiles this activity brings!
Anger is an okay feeling to have - BUT it is not okay to react to our anger by using hurtful words or actions. Based on grade level students discuss positive ways to react to their anger (ex: finding another activity, asking for help, taking deep breaths). We also discuss different ways to manage peer conflict. Consequences of handling our anger poorly are also discussed. This topic is so relevant for all students as they are constantly navigating new social situations and sources of stress. It is never a bad idea for students to brush up on coping skills so they are better equipped to handle situations at school, home, and in the future. These social building blocks help to make our kiddos successful and independent adults.
Personal Body Safety
As part of certain CCPS requirements, I provide students in kindergarten and grades 1, 3 and 5 with standardized lessons on Personal Body Safety. Topics include community safety (ex: wear a seatbelt in the car), good touch/bad touch, and, for grade 5 only, sexual harassment. Letters are sent home the month before lessons take place to give families an overview of what will be discussed in case you would like to start the conversation with your student(s) beforehand.