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Young Writers Society
Exclusion in the Middle Grades
Wed Nov 16, 2005 4:24 am
I'm doing some research on exclusion in early adolescence, ie, grade seven to nine. I'd like to know if any of you have any thoughts on the kids who are generally thought of as the "outsider" or the "different" one. Often these kids will have very low self-esteem. Is it a good idea to do things that should make them feel special, eg making them the student of the month in the class, or would that only serve to single that student out even more and make the child feel like an even bigger outsider?
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Wed Nov 16, 2005 4:36 am
I kind of think that making outsiders feel special will only have short term effects. A better strategy would be to get them to feel normal, by gradually involving them in a group. They don't have to necessarily be important, they just have to be part of the group.
Moderator Emeritus (frozen in carbonite.)
Wed Nov 16, 2005 6:07 am
If it happened to me, I would be embarrassed because I would feel even more excluded, plus all eyes would be on me. If you're an outsider, you generally do your best not to be noticed. Because when you do, people begin to think you're a teacher's pet, so you get excluded even more. It sucks.
Ubi caritas est vera, Deus ibi est.
"The mark of your ignorance is the depth of your belief in injustice and tragedy. What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the Master calls the butterfly." ~ Richard Bach
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Wed Nov 16, 2005 6:33 am
Oh God, don't single them out. Every time I won a writing contest or won the geography bee or something the taunting got exponentially worse. And, getting the outsiders to participate in group...no...also bad. The only thing that helped me was finding other kids who were also different or oursiders. Safety in numbers. Once I learned there were others who felt like me, others who were different, I became o.k. with being different. Now, I celebrate my geekiness. Bow down before the queen of the nerds. Ok, maybe I went too far. My point is, the outsider is only going feel more like an outsider when singled out, it also reminds the bullies of the existance of the outsider (who probably wants to be invisible).
I reject your reality and substitute my own
Wed Nov 16, 2005 7:06 am
This is what I do in those kinds of situations...
Number one, Carmina is right, DO NOT SINGLE THEM OUT. Classmate of the month is about the worst thing you can do for them. But, don't exclude them either. If you're gently teasing other classmates (in a way that is clearly joking), then you should gently tease all classmates.
The most important thing that can be done, actually, is for the teacher or adult leader to show the reculusive classmate that they actually know his/her name. Often times those students in the back think that the teacher does not know who they are.
Number two, find a situation in which the student isn't so quiet. Everyone is different, and that student may just feel uncomfortable in a large group setting; splitting into small groups can often make a quiet person very talkative. But, for all people, it's different. I've known a few who were only talkative when they were speaking directly in front of the entire group.
Number three, make the student feel appreciated; a smile and a pat on the back can go a really long way. It's often a very good idea for the adult leader to take time to talk to the student about stuff not related to the session, such as asking what they did yesterday.
All in all, the most important thing to do to draw a student out of the back is to make that student comfortable with the teacher. For the teacher that means establishing a strong rapport, and to be very open and amiable.
Of course, this is more for the seventh and eighth grade levels. Once you reach high-school (or the equivalent thereof), it's very different. But it's all always very important for the student to know that the teacher knows their name, and the best teachers know all the students names by the end of the first hour of class (not to brag or anything, but I'm able to memorize eighty-three names in one hour, and not forget them
But, it's also important to keep in mind that being an outsider is not a bad thing. Some people are only content when they are with other people, and others are only content when they are by themself.
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Tue Dec 20, 2005 3:43 pm
Addition to Deceased Topic
I'd like to add that while the small acts of kindness are certainly neccessary (i.e. pat on back), they really must be small. If another child notices that this is the only kid getting a pat on the back, it again singles him out and they taunt him again. So instead you pat several kids on the back out the door and tell a couple of kids goodbye on your own way out the door, including that student.
Sometimes I'm terrified of my heart; of its constant hunger for whatever it is it wants. The way it stops and starts.
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