The grade 7/8 students were very welcoming to the shy and nervous grade 1 students. All they knew was that we were going to share our afternoon snack time with them. We mentioned that the grade 1 students wanted to talk to them. As the discussion started, it was obvious that the grade 1 students were having a challenging time speaking. The grade 7/8 students started to encourage them by saying:
“It’s ok! You can tell us.” D.L. (Gr.7)
How Do We Teach Empathy?
The grade 1 students expressed their feelings and seemed a bit more comfortable speaking. As the grade 7/8 students heard their concerns, the room seemed to be filled with empathy for their position. Their teacher helped out to communicate their feelings. They felt that the older kids had forgotten what it was like to be little. They wanted to be included in their games during recess time. Bit by bit the grade 7/8 students started to share their ideas to promote playing together during recess time.
“I think a great idea would be to create posters around the school to remind everyone how to behave during recess.” J.Y. (Gr.8)
Reflecting About Our Actions
The grade 7/8 students reflected for a few days about their actions in school. We spoke about how courageous the grade 1 students were to have come up to speak to them. I was very proud of them for welcoming them and listening to their concerns.
The following week, the grade 1 students came back again to connect with the grade 7/8 students. This time they introduced themselves and asked them questions to get to know each other. It was heartwarming seeing them bond.
While they were in the process of choosing their “buddy”, one of the grade 7/8 students approached a grade 1 student and said:
“I’d love to be your learning buddy.” J.Y. (Gr.8)
The grade 1 student didn’t say anything in response. That’s when the grade 1 teacher approached the two and asked if she could assist. The student reassured her that he was just “giving her time and when she is ready, he’ll be there.”
After a few more minutes, some students started to get items from the mini-atelier to create, draw and colour with the grade 1 students. They were using art to connect with them and make them feel more comfortable.
Learning Buddies – Terry Fox Run
During our Terry Fox run, I encouraged the grade 7/8 students to walk and run with the grade 1 students. They immediately partnered up with their learning buddies and enjoyed a nice afternoon with them. They laughed, ran, walked, talked, but more importantly bonded.