Students come to school with sets of values they may not be able to identify themselves but will show when they work with their peers. Problem solving, cooperation, and collaboration are all developed in the classroom. As they interact with one another, they discover the roles they will play with one another. Utilizing role playing activities gives students a chance to practice social skills as well as discover what is important to their lives. “It explores how values drive behavior and raises student consciousness about the role of values in their lives and those of others. A direct effect is greater understanding about and empathy with differences in values as people interact.” (Calhoun, Weil, & Joyce, 2015, p. 258). Students figure out how to cooperate with one another and overcome obstacles. They begin to learn how to operate in a group and how best they can use their strengths.
In the kindergarten class I work in, we have a weekly “class meeting” where we sit down and discuss any issues that need to be addressed. The teacher writes down student problems or concerns on a paper flip chart and discusses each one by one (see image below). Students practice listening to one another and find ways to peacefully solve problems. They are held accountable to the solutions and are referenced back to them if needed. As the solutions come directly from the students, they carry more weight and have greater impact then the teacher simply telling them what they need to do. Students work with one another in class meetings, examine what’s important to them, and learn lifelong social skills they will use in future grades.
Calhoun, E., Weil, M., & Joyce, B. (2015). Models of Teaching. (9th ed.) Boston: Pearson.