Students are expected to go to school to learn how to read and multiply. They are expected to learn about the human body, gravity and Colonial America. They are reminded daily to write sentences beginning with a capital letter and ending with the proper punctuation. Those are all “givens” in the teaching profession.
What about making friends? I didn’t go to college to learn how to teach my students about making friends.
I think back to when my daughter, Katie, now a freshman at Dunedin High School, was in the third grade. She was out at PE and it was time to choose a partner for square dancing.
Often with a group of kids, there is usually one or two who don’t have that special friend. On this day of do-si-dos, there was “Sally” standing all alone. You see, Sally often came to school unbathed, her hair in knots, and much to the chagrin of her teacher and classmates, was often found picking her nose. She wasn’t someone who walked around surrounded with friends. On this particular day, when everyone needed a partner to swing, Sally had no one. Without saying anything, Katie walked up to Sally and offered to be her partner. I wonder how that may have changed Sally’s day. Someone wanted to be her partner. After hearing this story from Katie’s PE teacher, I couldn’t have been prouder of my daughter. I wanted to make sure to always pass this lesson of acceptance on to my students.
I teach my students that they don’t have to be best friends with each other, but everyone deserves a certain amount of respect. Everyone deserves a hand up when they’re down or a pat on the back if they’re having a bad day. After telling my students the story of Katie and Sally, I asked them about people helping people. Who have they helped? Who has helped them?
One of my fifth-graders, Nico, must have been listening to my advice … just one good friend makes a world of difference in someone’s life. Here’s what he had to say:
It’s always good to have a friend. You always have someone to turn to if you’re ever in a situation. Friends usually always help you. That’s why everyone should have at least one good friend.
It was an afternoon and I was at “Walk ‘n Talk” (recess) and I was going to play. I saw my friend Zack by the picnic tables so I went to hang out. My other friend, Jordan, called my name. When I turned around, BOOM! A bean bag hit me in the face. Zack came running toward me and picked me up and asked, “Are you OK?” I said, “Yes.” So, out of the kindness of his heart he took me to the clinic to get ice.
That’s how Zack, my best friend, truly helped me.
See, even the small moments in life mean a lot.
Then there’s Timothy. He learned his own valuable lesson from not a friend, but a family member.
Let me tell you how I learned my name letter by letter.
Scooby Doo! Scooby Doo! Wouldn’t you be scared if you said one word all the time? That is what I said. It wasn’t fun either.
It was the years 2004-2005 when I said my name in a babyish voice, “Scooby Doo!” Even at restaurants I yelled with glee, “Scooby Doo!” For some reason I thought my name was Scooby Doo. I said it all the time. I now think it is somewhat embarrassing to say something like that all the time.
One day, Uncle Lonnie invited me to his house. After my grandma and I got there, Uncle Lonnie said, “Come here my boy, and sit in my lap. Now let me tell you your name. T-I-M-O-T-H-Y.
“Scooby Doo!” I said.
“No, Timothy. T-I-M-O-T-H-Y,” Uncle Lonnie replied.
“Timothy!” I yelled.
Well, I love my name. Thank you for helping me learn my name, Uncle Lonnie.
If it wasn’t for Uncle Lonnie, I wouldn’t have learned my name – Timothy.
A name is very important to a person.
So, today, readers, both young and old, try doing something nice for someone else, no matter how small. Hold the door open for a stranger. Thank your parent for making you dinner. Sit by someone new at lunch today. Pick up that piece of trash everyone else is walking by. Smile.