Monday, January 18, 2016

Teaching Empathy with a Buddy Class

For the first half of my career I taught in the primary grades.  (Here in Washington State that means kindergarten through third grade.)  Some years we had a buddy class in the fourth, fifth or sixth grades.

One year there was a fifth grader who struggled at recess, so he became our permanent buddy during our station times.  He bonded with one of my first graders and time in our class kept both students calm.

Later I moved to fourth, fifth, and sixth grades.  I loved the independence of the older students, but I missed the constant light bulb moments of the younger students.  I made it a point to adopt a younger buddy class.  

I would teach the older class the lesson and have each student teach the same lesson to their younger buddy.  Only occasionally did I have an older student struggle to be a good role model in this setting.  (I'm talking three times in sixteen years.)  Usually the older child would remember what it was like to be younger and behave appropriately.

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