It feels like every month or so, I read another news article or watch another news segment about a school shooting. And after each instance, there is chatter about what to do and how to prevent future ones. But they are still happening… again and again.
After the most recent shooting, I read an article about one teacher’s effort to stop possible school shootings. This teacher had a desire to create and sustain a classroom that was inclusive for everyone. With just a simple seating chart, she wanted to understand who didn’t feel a part of the class, who felt lonely, and who was never chosen by their peers. With this information, she was able to identify certain students that “are falling through the cracks of the class’s social life” and “discovering whose gifts are going unnoticed by their peers.”
More and more recently, people are turning to the harder to define root of this problem, which is not about guns, but rather the hopeless people behind the trigger – the minds of the young children who seem to be lacking a connection to their peers and a sense of group unity. With increased pressure surrounding standardized tests, as well as increased class sizes, teachers can’t seem to prioritize this unity building. And with students being surrounded by technology, they are struggling to learn empathy, inclusivity and communication.
In today’s world, it feels like inclusion is desired in the classroom, but not always achieved. Students are left feeling alone and struggling to connect with their peers. So how do teachers create a space where their students feel included? Here are some ideas from us at Challenge Discovery:
- Greet your students by name each morning and have them do the same to each other. Look them in the eye and shake their hand (or come up with a fun handshake, like this teacher).
- Let your kids play. Create some unstructured time in your day that allows your students to work with each other and use their imagination.
- Go outside. Give your students a change of scenery and take your lesson outdoors. Some students may truly thrive in the outdoors when they don’t inside, so this will give those students a chance to shine.
- Create time during your day where technology is NOT allowed. Many schools provide laptops or tablets for students now, and many students have smart phones by the time they are 10 years old. Create some time in the day when they don’t have their face in a screen.
- Figure out what your students interests and passions are and see how you might be able to incorporate them into a lesson plan.
No, we are not saying that these five things will necessarily stop a school shooting. But we believe they are a step in the right direction.
Challenge Discovery is a company, in Richmond, VA, that strives to create a mutually supportive environment for students. We want our participants to feel like a part of a team. We give groups and individuals an opportunity to be a part of an inclusive space. To learn more about our inclusive programs, give us a call at (804) 876-9733 or email us at [email protected].