Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Community Circle Time and _My Princess Boy_

In my classroom we do regular community circles. This is a great time for students to talk with one another, get to know each other better and become a community. It is amazing to see how far they come in accepting one another and being comfortable talking with each other over time. Todays circle was a day that showed us just how far we have come.

In the past we have talked about bullying. Actually, we addressed a case of bullying that was happening at school. One of my boys (who has long hair) has been being teased for his hair. Kids were calling him a girl, making fun of his hair etc. As a class, we had a few long talks about this, and the bullying stopped in the classroom.

Today, though, I decided to share a book with my students called My Princess Boy. This is a non-fiction book about a young boy who likes to wear dress up clothes and how his family accepts him, as well as about being teased at times. The students were all very respectful and had insightful things to say about the story.

The story also brought up more issues of teasing. Quite a few of the girls talked about being teased for playing "boys sports" at recess. Other students talked about being teased in the past for how they dressed or for looking or acting "like a boy" or "like a girl."

I had been considering reading this book on and off for a long time, but was not sure how my 4th grade class would handle it. Honestly, I was worried about having issues from some of my students parents. My student population is quite diverse. The class is around 90% free-reduced lunch and has a combination of new immigrants (generally from conservative families from Mexico and Central America), white students, African American students and Somali immigrants (mostly Muslim).

My students can sometimes handle more than I give them credit for. The conversation was amazing and thoughtful and was a great community building time.

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