Do You Hate the Janitor? (Episode 35)

        Today, we’re gonna talk about a way to communicate empathy with your students through asking questions about how their actions affect others’ lives
        Watch the YouTube video here >>> https://youtu.be/eA_4_quQAD4
       We try not to just tell kids what to think, we want to model ways to question their actions and thoughts so they may grow in knowledge and character, just like we hope to personally do throughout our own lives.
        So ... SITUATION: a student sweeps all those little spiral shreds of paper off his desk onto the carpet.
 Today, we’re gonna talk about a way to communicate empathy with your students through asking questions about how their actions affect others’ lives.          That kid doesn’t get it. Sure, I could call him lazy for not sweeping it into his hand and carrying it to the trashcan. I could be very overt and direct with him about his behavior. But we want him to discover what he just did.
        So I ask him … “Do you hate the janitor?”
        And he looks up at me dumbstruck. It’s a shocking question.
It puts the student on the defensive, but in the times when this question is fitting, we want the student to defend their reasoning for their choice. Did you just make that choice because you hate the janitor?
        STUDENT: “No, of course not.”
        ME: “Then why are you choosing to make his job harder?”
        STUDENT: “I didn’t realize it was.”
        ME: “How do you think this will make his job harder?”
        STUDENT: Tells obvious answer.
        ME: “Next time you see him, can you apologize to him for sweeping paper on the ground and ask his forgiveness?”
        STUDENT: “Uh….”
        ME: “You can do it. It’ll help to see his face. He’ll be super grateful and forgive you. I guarantee.”
        Now, I know the kid isn’t going to actually go to the janitor and ask forgiveness, but the process helps him actually see the janitor for once.
        How can you help your little 1st and 2nd graders through this process of seeing others outside themselves?
        My example with little kids is helping build the foundation of being able to identify feelings and be aware of other people. We talked about feelings and how you can use clues from a person’s words or actions to tell how they are feeling. We talked about treating others the way you want to be treated. I asked a lot of things like, “If [insert other child’s name] took your eraser, how would you feel? So should you take their eraser?” or “Do you like people yelling in your ear? So is yelling in someone else’s ear very kind?” I tried to use teachable moments and we would roleplay if I noticed a trend in behaviors that were disrespectful or unkind.
        With older students, maybe it’s them putting books back in my library in non-alphabetic order, I can ask them, “Are you trying to take time away from my daughters?”
        STUDENT: “What? … No.”
        ME: “Do you realize that when you don’t take the 20 seconds to look at the author’s name and put it where its last name should go, you’re making me do the work for you, which keeps me from going home on time to my daughters and wife who are waiting for me?”
        STUDENT: …
        ME: “I’m not mad at you at all, I just kindly ask you put the books into the library how they belong. Thanks.”
        “Do you hate the janitor?” It’s the kind of question that jolts them out of themselves and gets them to think about others. We don’t want to blame or shame them … we just need a moment for them to be pulled out so they can see. Then we restore them and tell them we know they can do it.
        Sometimes that’s all we need. We can all get wrapped up in ourselves if we’re not careful or if others don’t help us see the world around us.
        Conversation of the Day: What’s something students do on your campus that you wish they would see its impact on others?
          Hop on over to watch the video and share your thoughts in the conversation.

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