Every day, I have bus duty after school. I work with another teacher, and we wait until everything has quieted down outside, and then we let the buses go. Today, I waved at the buses to let them know that they could go, and one bus driver called me over. She said that she had a group of Grade 8 students on the bus that were very concerned because one of the students, Adam*, was not on the bus yet. This student is autistic.
He just started taking the bus, but he’s always arrived on time for it. The students knew that they couldn’t leave without him. I said that I would go into the school to page him when I saw him coming around the corner. I called his name and told him to hurry because the bus was getting ready to leave.
It was then that another Grade 8 student got off the bus, ran up to Adam, held his hand and said, “Come on. We have to hurry. The bus is going. We can do it!” Then he made sure that this student made it safely onto the bus. I was almost in tears watching this happen. It was so nice to see all of these students coming together to make sure that Adam was safe.
After school, I was talking to Adam’s homeroom teacher, and I mentioned how impressed I was with the actions of her Grade 8 students. She then said that she actually had another student in the building that realized Adam was running late for the bus. This other student helped Adam get dressed: even making sure that he had his mittens and hat on and his coat zipped up. It’s incredible to think that this whole Grade 8 class came together to look out for this one student that needed the extra help.
It’s clear to me that this Grade 8 teacher has spent time “building a community” and teaching about the importance of “acceptance.” Students have not just learned about these concepts, they are also applying them. This makes me think about how the students got to the point where they are not just people taking the same class, but people that genuinely care about and support each other.
How do you build a community in your classroom? How do you teach students to be accepting of others regardless of differences?
*-Please note that for the purpose of privacy, this student’s real name is not used in this post.
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Aviva Dunsiger taught Junior Kindergarten to Grade 2 for 11 years before moving to Grade 6 this year. She’s passionate about using technology in the classroom to support student learning, and she’s presented on this topic numerous times both online and offline.
She enjoys maintaining her blog, Living Avivaloca: My Many Musings on Life and Learning. Aviva’s reflective writing about her professional practice inspires communication between educators, administrators and parents.