Four years ago, a maths teacher’s ingenious idea first went viral and this amazing story is still popping up everywhere online. An American school teacher, Kathy Pitt, used one simple tactic to help her better understand the dynamics of her classroom.
Kathy asks her students to write down the name of a classmate who has excelled themselves that week, as well as the names of other classmates that they would like to sit next to the following week. Why does she do this? At the end of the week, she reviews the cards to see if any particular patterns show up. She is looking out for four main things:
Who is not getting requested by anyone else?
Who doesn’t even know who to request?
Who never gets noticed enough to be nominated?
Who had a million friends last week and none this week?
Kathy is not hoping to find the most exceptional or most frequently requested student. She is actually trying to find out who is lonely, who might be struggling and who might be at risk of ‘falling through the cracks’. She might even try to figure out who is being bullied and who might be doing the bullying.
Once she knows this, she can monitor certain students and work to make everyone feel included in the group. It gives her an insight into what is going on below the surface so she can focus on those who might need a little extra help. All this is done in secret, meaning the students never know the true meaning behind this strategy.
How long had Kathy been doing this? 20 years. Every Friday since the Columbine school shootings. She felt it was important to prevent children feeling so disconnected that they might resort to violence, by showing them that they are seen, noticed and valued.
This brilliant trick was originally shared on Momastery, the blog of American author Glennon Doyle, whose son was taught by Kathy Pitt. Doyle describes her as ‘saving lives’ by doing what she can to fight violence ‘early and often’.
Now read: 11 teachers give their advice to parents with kids starting school in September
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