Friday, December 18, 2015

FISH Small group

One of the best parts about this role is having the opportunity to meet with students small groups to work on specific skills. During the last few weeks, I have been working with second grade girls on friendship skills and appropriate ways to communicate with others. I named our group FISH- Friends In School Helping. Throughout our 5 weeks together, we created an ocean for our fish and added to the ocean each time.  I connected with the teachers and asked for names of students who, they thought, would benefit from some extra TLC. After getting the names, I sent home permission slips. We met during lunch every week for 5 weeks, this way, they did not miss any class time, and still got to socialize. Here is what we did:

Week 1:Introduction
Set foundation for the group, times, dates, who was involved. We created "ideas" (rules!) for the group and what would help us be the best group we could be. We also made our own personal fish to swim in our ocean.

Week 2: Reviewed the rules, went around the circle and said what their favorite thing to do at recess was. We did a friendship puzzle, where each person got a puzzle piece; they had to work together to put their puzzle together. We debriefed who was a leader, who helped, and what role each person played in solving the puzzle. After, we played "friendship fuss", each person read a scenario of a friendship problem and they had to solve the problem with possible solutions. At the end, we put one starfish each in the ocean, with a friendship quality on each one:)

Week 3: Coral Coping skills! This is such a fun activity that adds so much to the ocean. We drew coral, using our hands- with big extensions for the fingers (see picture), on each finger tip, each person brainstormed 5 coping skills they could use to solve problems with a friend (ie-share, be nice, take turns, use kind words).

Week 4: relationSHIPS!- We started off talking about what relationships are, and who we have them with (family, friends, classmates, animals, etc). Each pair got a "ship", on the top of the ship, they brainstormed ideas about ways to be a  good friend, on the bottom, were traits that were not good for friendships.

Week 5:Inside Out- We watched a few clips of Inside Out, and talked about expressing ourselves. From there, we played charades for emotions. They could not use their voice, only their body to express their feelings.  We also look at who made faces on their original fish. Some change their faces, others keep them the way they are.

I hope you can use these ideas as you make small groups. Having a name for each group helps SO much for organization and camaraderie!

We end each group with a  FISH cheer:)

Swimming away,
Your Flordian chick!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Staff Relationships- why do they matter?

We all know the importance of creating strong relationships with our students. But what about our staff? We run around all day on campus, passing one another in the hallway, slipping papers in and out and our boxes, empathizing with the craziness of our jobs. It is easy to "know" people we work with, but I am often struck with the idea that even though we see one another each and every day, we do not get the chance to actually sit down and KNOW the people we pass each morning.

Outside my work life, I like to participate in Bible Studies, sometimes through church, and other times at my home, in the wee hours of the morning. It is the core of who I am, and I (try to) make myself an example of my faith in what I do. I prayed for a few months about how I could combine the two, and came to the conclusion that if I do not try, nothing will happen...

So I got enough courage to hit the send button 2 months ago (in a non-religious school), and like magic- I got responses! My initial email was to the entire staff, asking if anyone would be interested in a bible study. I shared that this was the only email I would be sending out, and anyone was welcome. I was hoping to 5-10 responses, but God works in crazy ways, and had 21 people respond to me email:) Christians, non-christians, Buddhists, all emailed- and it was amazing to see all the faiths that stepped forward.

We hold "Community studies" on Friday mornings. I bring muffins, and someone might bring coffee/OJ. We sit in an empty classroom from 7:15-7:45AM (before school hours), and I bring a mini lesson. I have been using Jesus Calling, but have been supplementing with other online studies as well, depending on our character virtue of the month, or events happening at school.

After each week, I send out the prayer requests to the 21 people who responded, and let them know what others wanted to share.

It is bizarre to think that 30 minutes can make a difference.. but it is! I have found myself praying and thinking about people from work, and my empathy has grown for these people even stronger. Building positive culture and community can be a difficult thing to do, but it is crucial that we take a minute (or 30!), each week to actually ask- How are YOU doing? How are things going?

Originally I had not thought of school- my workplace- as a meeting place for my faith, but the Lord kept putting it in my head to share with others. The word is spreading and my relationships with these people are growing deeper and stronger each week. I encourage you to think about your own work place...what type of community can you bring to the table? Maybe it is faith, but maybe it is community service projects, or happy hours? Maybe it is a running club or an after school work out videos?

The list is endless, but I have come to realize that if you do not put yourself out there, there is no way we can keep the benefits.

Encouraged to keep growing,

Your Floridian Chicka!