Brookside students know a visit to the principal’s office can be a good thing

bis-fairness-kids

Sheffield Village/Sheffield Lake

By Michele Murphy

Last Wednesday morning, 60 students at Brookside Intermediate School (BIS) were called to principal Dan Rahm’s office. They were not in trouble. They were recognized by Rahm and their teachers for demonstrating fairness.

How did they show fairness?

Several students among those honored explain.

“It’s allowing others to be able to do what you are able to do,” stated Max, a fifth-grader. Aurora, a third-grade student, offered an example. “If you have just one piece of gum, don’t use it because they (those around you) couldn’t have a piece.”

Multiple answers bubbled up when asked what they would do if they saw something they thought was
unfair. “Stand up for that person, “ declared sixth-grader Alyanna.

“By speaking up,” adds Max.

“Show them some ways to handle it,” chimes in Aurora. Tyler, a fourth-grade student, says. “I’d tell them to come with me if they weren’t being included in a group.”

When asked if grown-ups were fair, Alyanna asserted, “Adults are the same as kids, some just aren’t fair.” They gave examples of adults not allowing kids to play on the beach with them when there weren’t enough toys to go around. Several agreed it was unfair when an adult cuts in line and added that when they did this while driving, it was also unsafe.

The monthly asset word program was introduced this year by Rahm. In addition to fairness, monthly feature words have been “decision-making,” “respect,” “responsibility” and “caring.” The program is meant to complement classroom lessons delivered by the school counselor and other schoolwide programs that promote pro-social behavior like the playground “buddy bench” that encourages kids to play with someone sitting on the bench and lunchtime “no one sits alone” program.

Bridgette Boehm, a fourth-grade teacher, has integrated application of the word into her writing classes. She will ask students to brainstorm about the meaning of the word, explaining it is important students have a developmentally appropriate understanding of what the word means and how to identify those behaviors.

She will then have them develop a poster or complete a writing assignment to ensure students consider how to apply it in their lives. This month she had students write a paragraph about how they show fairness at school and another about how they show fairness at home. She said she was particularly pleased at the number of students who wrote about the importance of fairness when working in groups – working with partners, sharing responsibility and the workload and not letting just one person do all the work. She remarked that knowing this will serve them well their entire lives.

Boehm was also impressed several acknowledged those less fortunate and talked about donating things they don’t want or use anymore. She also commented some families are participating in these learning
activities together.

Why bother? The students had some thoughts to offer. “So people don’t start being mean to you.” “So people are fair back to you.” “Help you make a lot more friends.” “So it doesn’t start bullying.”

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