This morning, my students and I had a very reflective activity in our Values Education class. The month of October is a bullying prevention month, and we’ve been discussing about bullying and self-empowerment. I asked them to define what bullying is and if they have experienced it themselves. There was a raise of hands here and there eager to give answers. After a number of stories of their own experiences, I asked them why does bullying happen. One of them said, “Because they want to be cool?” and another said, “Because they hate them?” Yes, they might probably hate them. But why do you think they hate other people? “Because they have been bullied also before? They want to get back on other people.” Very good kids. If they have also experienced being bullied, do you think they were also hurt? That is the reason why bullying happens – hurt people hurt people.
“Maybe they were bullied before and now they want to get even with other people. Maybe they were hurt and neglected at home, and now they want attention,” I said. “Class, you may not be aware of it but maybe some of your classmates are hurt at this very moment. Maybe they are going through something: they have seen their parents arguing last night or they fought with their brother or sister , or maybe they had a misunderstanding with their bestfriend. What are we going to do? Are we going to push them along the hallway, or call them names, or tease them for not having high grades? How do we respond to people who are hurt? Do we hurt them more? Or do we empower and encourage them to be strong despite of their situation?”
For our activity, I taped a piece of paper on their back with their name. I asked them what would they tell their classmates with the thought that their classmate is hurt or is going through something. “How do you respond to a hurt person? What would you say to your classmate?” Before we started the activity though, I told them that they would do the activity in a gentle manner. “You don’t want to accidentally push or step on your hurting classmate, right?”
As their teacher, it was a heartwarming scene to see my students forming a train and carefully writing on each other’s back – one student after another. This went on for 15 minutes and I can hardly make them stop as they wanted to write on everyone’s back. After giving them their time to write, I asked them to form a big circle and sit down. We discussed the activity and asked them what they felt during the activity. Some of the answers were: “I felt happy.” “It feels like I don’t have to be afraid because they are my friends.” “I felt like I was not alone.”
(Very good class. You just empowered one another not to be afraid and reminded them that they are not alone.)
It was a very reflective activity and I want to share with you some of the things they wrote on each other’s paper, just because there is so much to learn from fifth graders:
1. Thank you for forgiving me yesterday.
No one is too young or too old for forgiveness.
2. I will like you all the time.
No matter how crazy we can get.
3. Don’t worry, we are here for you.
You are not alone.
4. We can still be friends.
Life is full of many chances. Take yours.
5. I love you. Thanks for being my friend.
You are loved.
6. You have a good house and family.
Sometimes we have to be reminded of the blessings we have.
7. You can do great things in life.
The world needs you. You are important.
8. When I’m sad, you’re there to make me happy.
9. You’re brave.
You will overcome. That too, shall pass.
10. Nice, you will have a beautiful wife here (I saw a beautiful Korean girl).
We all need humor. LAUGH!
Heart-melting, right? :’)
Of course, I was part of the activity. A couple of the things written on my paper were:
“You’re my second mom.” (I didn’t know I am a mom!)
“You inspire me to pick up where I left myself sad. Now I’m happy.”
And of course, I ended the class with a short speech.
Class, by this time, your teachers are already tired. We have many activities and exams coming up. I’ve been feeling tired lately. There were days I was feeling sick and would think of not going to work. But with the activity we had, with what you wrote on each other’s paper and on my paper, you reminded me why I am doing this in the first place. You remind me why I chose to be here everyday. You are my inspiration. Thank you.
Thank you, Grade 5.
With passion and love,