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Calm, Cool, & Consistent

Keeping Civility in the Classroom
Published: June 19, 2020

Recently, a group of five girls in Monica Taylor-Fitoussi's second - grade class were playing the You're My Best Friend, and You're Not My Friend game, and one of them had written a note that said We Hate You. Obviously, the situation was disturbing the class, says Taylor - Fitoussi, who teaches at Jackie Robinson Academy in Long Beach, California. She shepherded the girls to the room's quiet corner and instructed them to talk it out and come up with a solution to the disharmony.

"It was amazing. Normally, students go to the quiet corner, spend a few minutes, resolve the problem, and come back to class," she says. "This little group was there for 20 minutes, and there were tears and recriminations."

Taylor-Fitoussi helped defuse the situation among the feuding girls as she does with just about every student behavior conflict she encounters. "When there are problems, generally the students are expected to work it out on their own, or they must write letters of apology, and they have to say what they did wrong and come up with an action plan as to how they are going to go about changing their behavior," she says.

With the group of girls, she let them do "some critical back and forth, and I said, 'Now you have to find solutions.'" With her guidance, the girls set their goals for getting along and being courteous to one another, exchanged apologies, and stated how they'd treat each other differently in the days to come. "I don't know if just getting it all out was enough or not," she says, "but they've all been playing well together since."

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