One teacher's tip for finding out which children are being left out is sure to resonate with parents
Sending our children to school, I think to most parents, we worry more about their happiness than we do about their maths and spellings.
I know I sure do.
Which is why I wish every teacher would take a note out of this US teacher's book, with her simple, yet brilliant idea to make sure no kids in her class were left out or bullied.
A while back, mum and writer Glennon Doyle, wrote a blog post about how every week her son's primary school teacher, Cathy Pitt, used a simple piece of paper to gather clues as to which children in her class were being left out, feeling lonely, or possibly even at risk of being bullied.
The post went viral and Pitt, who at the time had been using this same trick in her entire 20-year-long teaching career, was interviewed about her methods and why it works so well.
"I simply hand out an index card to each child," Cathy, who teaches at Sea Gate Elementary School in Florida, told the Today show. Then, she tells the kids, "On the back of your cards, make sure you list someone that you know you want to get to know."
Thus, by form of secret ballot, she has her students highlight an exceptional classmate along with a few names of fellow students they'd like to work with on the next group project.
"When I came up with the idea of simply distributing the cards, it really was to find out which children were belonging and which children were not," she said. Every single Friday, after the students went home, she'd review the cards and look for patterns:
Who is not getting requested by anyone else?
Who doesn't even know who to request?
Who never gets noticed enough to be nominated?
Who had a million friends last week and none this week?
Although the cards made it clear to see the most "exceptional" students, it was the names that showed up the least that Pitt knew she needed to monitor the most.
"It’s like taking an X-ray of a classroom to see beneath the surface of things and into the hearts of students," Doyle explains. "It is like mining for gold – the gold being those little ones who need a little help – who need adults to step in and TEACH them how to make friends, how to ask others to play, how to join a group, or how to share their gifts with others."
When asked by Doyle how long she had been using this system, Pitt, who teaches 4th and 5th grade (10-11-year-olds) answered: "Ever since Columbine, she said. Every single Friday afternoon since Columbine."
The Columbine High School massacre took place in April 1999, and resulted in 15 deaths, including both perpetrators.
"That was the day she realised that kids have to be seen," Doyle wrote. "And they can fall through the cracks."