Stand Up For A Friend: A Social Emotional Learning Activity

January 18, 2020

Stand Up For A Friend is a social emotional learning activity I used with my homeroom to help build empathy among students and show them that they are not alone in some (if not all) of the feelings they have.
One of the changes to our school’s schedule this year was to build in additional time for homeroom. Previously students had a 20 minute window of time to arrive, unpack, and report to homeroom before first period began. But because of issues with buses running late, many times half of our students weren’t arriving until 15 minutes into our first period.

This year our leadership team made some changes to our arrival procedures, buses are generally running on time, and we have a 15 minute period where all students are present so we can accurately take attendance and handle other homeroom business. Most mornings I put on CNN10 for students to watch and at least once a week, I do organization checks to help students keep their binder and folder in order.

This homeroom period is also dedicated to holding class meetings and implementing our school wide anti-bullying program (Olweus). Many of the class meeting activities I do are short and informal. For example, at the start and end of the week, I try to do a quick check in and check out. During these, I will ask questions about what they are looking forward to over the weekend, something they are proud of from the past week, something kind they did for someone or someone did for them that week, something they are struggling with in the transition from fifth to sixth grade, etc.

A more structured activity I did at the start of the year was called “Stand Up For A Friend.” First, students numbered a piece of loose leaf from 1 to 13. Students were instructed not to put their name on these papers. Then, in response to a series of statements (13 in total), students put a check mark next to each number that they agreed with. Statements included things like “I was nervous on my first day of sixth grade,” “Sometime I feel like I don’t fit in,” and “I worry about the future.”

Once students marked off all of the statements they agreed with, everyone crumpled up their paper into a ball and at my signal, tossed their papers to the front of the room, retrieved another paper, and returned to their seats. Then as I read each statement, students stood if it was checked off on their paper. After all of the statements were read, I asked students if they noticed anything, if there were statements where many or few students were standing, if there was anything that surprised them. Following our discussion, I shared with students how I would have responded as a sixth grader and how I responded as an adult (I did participate so my paper was one of the ones in the mix).

My hope is that activities like these will help build empathy among students and show them that they are not alone in some (if not all) of the feelings they have. If you’d like to try out this activity with your students, click here to make a copy of the Google Slides presentation I used.

Stand Up For A Friend is a social emotional learning activity I used with my homeroom to help build empathy among students and show them that they are not alone in some (if not all) of the feelings they have.

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