The 5th Graders at Manning Elementary are leading a school wide challenge focusing on respect. They gathered handmade signs and props they prepared and got in their small groups to head out to classrooms across the building on a Wednesday morning. Many were nervous to lead but there was excitement as they went off to teach. Groups visited each classroom and explained the importance of respect which is one of the pillars at Manning “Be Respectful, Be Responsible, and Be Safe.” They also shared the challenge guidelines which involves teachers and staff throughout the building rewarding individuals and classrooms with ping pong balls for respect. Teachers may not reward their own homerooms though creating more of a team environment for the entire school to be looking for positive examples of respect to name, celebrate, and reward.
This challenge was dreamed up after the 5th Graders participated in a “Snowflake Kindness Challenge” in December. Ms. Pietrzak and the staff wanted to keep the positive momentum of that challenge and seek to continue to help students who are sometimes exposed to unkindness online and in person and need support. Social Emotional Learning is a value of the schools because helping students to develop in all areas- not just academics is key to healthy, thriving students. This is a unique opportunity to partner with students while encouraging them in their leadership skills. Ms. Pietrzak explained, “It is important that we teach and then acknowledge the growth of our students’ interpersonal skills that they are developing and not just focus on the academic growth. The “golden rule” of treating others the way we want to be treated can be carried with us anywhere.” Mrs. Lebeda explained, “the students are in small groups and then they are leading to teach more about respect and they designed creative ways to count the points.”
Some groups had prepared skits and some shared stories and examples about scenarios they see in school and what it would mean to show respect. They also dreamed up creative ways for each classroom to count and measure their progress including handmade cardboard cookies and cookie jars, shiny containers and popsicle sticks, and a cardboard bookshelf with books to place on the shelf for each point. As the students returned to their regular schedule they shared about leading. Derek A. was so excited, “it was so much fun and the kids had great ideas of what respect is!” Raven S. said, “My favorite part is watching the kids be very respectful to everybody and it makes me feel really good that I helped them get there.” Stella S. shared “I like being able to be a teacher and have fun with the kids.” “I just loved how much the students participated,” Julia C noticed they difference it makes when fellow students lead. During the challenge the 5th Graders will check in with each classroom and provide encouragement with the support and guidance of the administration and their classroom teachers and then after a few weeks the challenge will conclude. This challenge is another way Manning is going beyond academics and fostering leadership and lifting up values they want to see embraced more and more by students within their school community.
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