The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

Helping One Another

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how students can and do help each other in different school settings. Today I witnessed several different acts of kindness within my classroom that reinforced to me that my students really do watch out for one another!

Early in the morning, we joined the other fourth grade class for a game of kickball as we continue Spring Training for the Big Game at the end of the month. I’ll admit it: I don’t have a lot of particularly athletic students in my class this year. There are a few who are involved in different sports, most of them soccer, although there are a few who do basketball, baseball, football, or dance. It is very easy for these more athletic students to make fun of those who are not as skilled, but I didn’t see it once among these fourth graders! Instead, they started cheering for each other, regardless of the team they were on, encouraging one another, and helping them learn how to kick, catch, and run.

Later on we were doing math, learning about decimals. Many of the students picked up the basic concepts right away and wanted to do independent practice, but a few needed help. Some didn’t want to ask, though, afraid of how it would look to their peers. Right away, though, I saw several students reach out to their classmates and offer to help. They talked through the problems together to complete their tasks. If they were both stuck, they would ask me for help but then figure it out on their own before I even had to say anything!

Then, right before lunch, one of the student’s math binders popped open, spilling the pages all over. Instead of laughing or leaving him to clean up by himself, several students immediately started gathering up pages, checking that they were in order, and helping him put them all back into the binder. Of course, there comes a point when there are too many people trying to help, but this didn’t happen, either! Instead, those who were not helping with the paper mess were staying out of the way, helping to clean up other parts of the room or just clearing up their own work spaces.

On their own, none of these small acts of kindness may seem like much, but combined, they tell me that my students are growing so much! At the start of the year, we used our social-emotional learning lessons to talk about issues like empathy, compassion, working together, asking for help, respecting others, and solving problems. Now that we are swiftly approaching the end of the year, I can tell that the lessons have stuck with them!

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