As I continue to struggle with some of the objections over the Elementary School Caring School Curriculum I thought it would be a helpful exercise, at least for myself, to go over each grade lesson plan individually to try and sort out where the objections lie.
Mike McMahon has continually updated his email comments on his site to reflect the support and opposition to the plan which is worth a read.
For the Kindergarten plan, I believe that there should be zero objections, but as with most things assuming often gets you the exactly opposite results. So this is what the school district had planned for the youngest amongst the students at AUSD:
Title: Becoming a Welcoming Classroom
About the Welcoming Class Meeting:
A welcoming class meeting is an introductory lesson to help students understand what makes children feel welcome. And, to discover what the effect is of unwelcoming behavior, such as hurtful teasing, name calling and exclusion.
Book: The New Girl…and Me by Jacqui Robbins. The story of the book is, as described on Amazon.com:
…When the new girl, Shakeeta, introduces herself by telling the class, “I have an iguana,” Mia is intrigued. Even so, her shyness holds her back from making overtures; later, though, when a bully bars both Shakeeta and Mia from playing soccer, the pair strike up a conversation about iguanas and the girls become fast friends…
- Name calling
1. Gather in a circle and introduce “Welcome”
Students come with a partner to the circle. Briefly review the class meeting rules. Remind the students that everyone likes to feel welcome and supported at school, whether they are new to the school or not. Also, remind them that no one likes to be teased or called hurtful words.
2. Discuss what it means to feel welcome at school.
Explain that the students will talk about times they’ve felt welcome and the times when their feelings might have been hurt. Point out that this can be a difficult topic to talk about and that you would like the students to focus on listening and responding in a caring way.
- Ask students for examples
3. Discuss what it means to feel unwelcome at school
- Ask students for examples
4. Read the book aloud “The New Girl and Me “
Discuss, asking these questions:
- Have any of you ever been new to a classroom, join a team or go to an event where you didn’t know anyone?
- What did DJ do or say that made Shakeeta feel unwelcome or “not at home”?
- Has anyone ever seen an iguana? What does it look like? Eat?
- What finally made Shakeeta feel welcome?
- Using the writing prompt, “I can help others feel welcome by…” ask students to respond verbally to this.
- Have students return to their desks to draw a welcoming picture.
- Upon completion, bring students back to the circle to share and comment.
- Display pictures around the room or in the hallway.
After all this the teachers will be expected to summarize what the students have said and then go over the importance of being welcoming.
I’m guessing that the majority of people will find this particular lesson plan acceptable and age appropriate. But as once suggested by Chuck Berry, you never can tell.