I have been MIA for quite some time now. This summer I took a class about helping students manage crisis. It was an awesome class and inspired me to sign up to be a disaster volunteer with the Red Cross- which I did! I think I’m pretty much done all of the online trainings for that and now I’m waiting for the next step. More on that another time.
As I’m starting to get ready for my internship this fall, I have been brainstorming interventions to use with middle school students. Last summer my practicum was at a high school and then earlier this year I was asked to help with the elementary school counseling curriculum. Now it is time to focus on middle schoolers!
People really dislike middle school/middle school kids. Whenever I tell someone I want to work in a middle school I typically get reactions like “WOW!” “Those kids are crazy!” and “It takes a certain person to want to do that!” It is true that the middle school years can be a tough time period for a lot of people. Part of that includes the social aspect of middle school, which can be pretty brutal (i.e. bullying, gossip, rumors, aggression, name calling, exclusion, etc.)
One intervention I keep seeing is using a tube of toothpaste to demonstrate that once something is said out loud, it is difficult to take back. I like that analogy but it isn’t exciting to me. Recently, I’ve stumbled across a couple different versions of lessons that use glitter to demonstrate the effect of gossip. Below I’ve added my own spin on some of the ideas that I’ve read.
GLITTER & GOSSIP
Who doesn’t love glitter?! Just kidding- a lot of people don’t love glitter! I’m almost too afraid to ask any teacher to allow me to do this lesson in their classroom because of the glittery catastrophe that is bound to happen. BUT it’s such an awesome lesson, I think anyone would understand and get over it.
I would begin the lesson by getting the students really pumped up. Kids are super competitive and energetic. This lesson can easily be done as a demonstration but presenting it as a challenge and getting all of the students involved may help relieve them of their built up energy. I would divide a classroom into groups, either in teams of two or in smaller groups sitting at tables. Then tell them you have a challenge for them and start betting that they won’t be able to do it- promise to give any team that is able to complete the challenge a pizza party or a week of no homework (trust me- they won’t be able to do it so it is ok to go crazy with your wagers.)
One person on each team will be given a pinch of glitter in their hand. The challenge is that they have to pass all of the glitter, every last speck, all the way down their line or around their circle in 3 minutes. Every person on their team must have a turn passing the glitter, no glitter is allowed to remain on anyone’s body or on the floor, and nobody is allowed to leave to wash their hands. Obviously, this is impossible to do since glitter inevitably gets EVERYWHERE! In fact, it seems like the more you try to contain glitter, the more it spreads.
Next comes the meat of the lesson: How is glitter like gossip?
1. It sticks with people.
2. It is hard to contain.
3. It can easily go where you didn’t intend for it to go.
4. It can seem fun but turn into a mess.
5. Once it is spread, it is hard to get back.