Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Boys Group

I recently started a group for 4 boys from my class. On Thursdays, we play games together for half of recess (Jenga or Twister, so far), then eat lunch together. Ostensibly, the group is for having fun. Really, I started the group to help my on-the-spectrum student gain better social skills and friends. But actually, the group is serving the purpose of teaching all of them social skills, including how to win and lose and take turns and encourage each other, and how to not all talk at the same time while eating lunch. (Really, it is amazing the way they seem to think there is nothing wrong with speaking at the same time that everyone else is talking.)

Last week we had the group on Wednesday because I was out of town Thursday and Friday. This week, every day one of them asks me when we're having the group: Wednesday or Thursday?

Today Ms. Annie poked her head in my classroom at lunchtime to ask if I was free for a meeting tomorrow at lunch. My kids were eating quietly and listening to hippie folkie acoustic music I was playing for them.

"Sure," I said. "I can meet at lunch, I don't have anything going on."

She nodded and left. Tyshaun looked up.

"When are we having our lunch group?" he asked off-handedly. He looked so casual, but I could see immediately what he was thinking.

I told him we'd have it on Thursday, not tomorrow. He was right, I had almost forgotten about it. Sometimes it amazes me the things kids can keep in the forefront of their minds (while so many other things seem to disappear...). And I like it that he likes the boys group so much. They are so different in that small group. Careful of each other, thoughtful, calmer. If only I could always have them in little groups!

PS. If you haven't listened yet, you need to check out the podcast of This American Life from Sept. 26th. You can stream it here, or buy it through the website also. It's about Geoffrey Canada and his work in Harlem, and what he is doing is spot on. Highly recommended.

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