Learning to get along

Can we all get along? Children will learn how to cooperate and “collaborate” in San Francisco elementary and middle schools, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

“If kids don’t come to school prepared to collaborate, we punish them, blame their family, blame their neighborhood, blame their race, their socio-economic situation, instead of reaching deeply to teach them,” said Matthew Hartford, principal at Lakeshore Alternative Elementary School. “Some kids need to learn it.”

Schools are using a program called Second Step to teach K-8 students how to listen, manage stress, be empathetic and deal with conflicts.

San Francisco teacher Anastasia Fusscas leaned down and whispered the sentence to one of her fourth-grade students.

“We respect other people.”

The Lakeshore student turned to a classmate and whispered the sentence he had heard, who then repeated it into the ear of the next person and so on until the last student in the circle whispered the sentence back to the teacher.

Fusscas started laughing. As was the case with most games of Telephone, the sentence had been garbled along the way.

“Do not touch a lot of people,” she said, repeating what she heard. “Well, that’s a good rule too.”

But the real lesson of the day wasn’t about respect or the avoidance of excessive physical contact.

The Second Step lesson was about listening and ways to listen better, like making eye contact, asking clarifying questions and not interrupting.

While teaching listening skills takes class time, it’s worth it when students are more focused, stay on task and listen, the teacher says.

San Francisco Unified no longer will suspend students for “willful defiance.”

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  1. GoogleMaster says:

    Learning how to get along? Isn’t that what Pre-K and K are for?

  2. Yes, preceded by appropriate socialization in the home. Schools should enforce old-fashioned dress and conduct policies and concentrate on the explicit teaching of content knowledge and skills. They’re already wasting far too much time on non-academic endeavors – and flawed “academic” endeavors like group work and discovery learning – both of which waste lots of time and create lots of opportunities for undesirable behaviors. Sigh

  3. Ann in L.A. says:

    Teaching “getting along” is probably best done by simply increasing the amount of recess.

  4. I believe the law in California has changed so that no one can be suspended for willful defiance. I have been told that if I tell a kid with his head down to sit up, and he stands up, tells me to fuck off, and walks out, he will not be suspended.

    • Roger Sweeny says:

      I hope California teachers will put pressure on their union to change this.

    • Michael E. Lopez says:

      Well the good news is that if he walks out, he’s effectively suspended himself.