Boys can be physically aggressive and violent, but mean girls can be aggressive in often subtler ways, and it starts early--at preschool or kindergarten. Social scientists describe this systematic teasing as "relational aggression" or "social cruelty." Relational aggression actually leads to physical symptoms, such as headaches or stomachaches, as well as often have more long-lasting effects than physical aggression.
Unfortunately, these behaviours are often hidden in girl culture, so adults are often oblivious of what's happening.
One common aggressive behaviour displayed by mean girls is exclusion, one of the most hurtful actions for most people, and in particular, girls. These actions lead to problems to girls' psyches and self-esteem, as well as affect their learning and achievement.
Girls are often stuck in a social system known as a yo-yo friendship; in other words, best friends one day, then worst enemies, and then best friends again--and on and on it goes.
Source: Little Girls can be Mean, Michelle Anthony & Reyna Lindert, 2010.
Our PRO-D at Surrey Centre Elementary was on social-emotional learning, presented by Sheldon Franken, a school counselor in Delta and director of Inquiry Adventures.
According to CASEL, these are the five interrelated core competencies:
The workshop had a nice blend of theory and hands-on activities. We started with the Spot It! cards and ULead Cards, which allowed us to quickly find partners and then share based on a picture, question and quote. There were further uses with the cards, but even those three tasks were a great ice-breaker. Another really fun activity was forming a ring with mountain climbing rope/strap and then leaning backwards. That was probably the most interesting as you had to really trust others and work together to achieve a common goal. The Chaos game was also a little frustrating and fun as we had to pick two people and then stand equal distance between them. The juggling game was also interesting, especially when the rubber chicken was tossed into the mix. It shows that more focus is necessary when there are variables are in play. Finally, we also tossed around a variety of thumballs, which gives students both a physical and thinking task to do. Each ball has a variety of questions and topics to engage students to share with others.
I can see with students where these tools would assist and enhance their social and emotional capacities. Sometimes have something shared in their hands is less intimidating than simply staring at each other, face to face, to discuss a topic or question.
Another important aspect of these activities is the debriefing afterwards, to make sure students have an idea of what the purpose/function of the task was. The 3 important questions are the following: 1) What? 2) So what? 3) Now what? Our ultimate goal, of course, is transfer to real life, not simply being stuck in the classroom.
Daniel H. Lee
This blog will be dedicated to sharing in three areas: happenings in my classroom and school; analysis and distillation of other educators' wealth of knowledge in various texts; insights from other disciplines and areas of expertise that relate and connect with educational practices.