With the comments on here and on FB on my post Are we asking kids to sublimate their feelings? I’ve spent a lot of time lately thinking about this. Something new occurred to me during these discussions. While I don’t want to ever “force” kids to play with someone they don’t get along with they do need to learn to coexist.
My first summer home from college I followed a friend to working at a local day care. We both worked in the school age room. The school age kiddos had one lead teacher and the kindergartners had a different lead teacher and the two did not get along at all!!! It was miserable, between that and I’m sure some of the other issues regarding the way the center was run my friend left partway through the summer and got a different job, more power to her. I didn’t necessarily like the job and it got worse for me after she left because then I went on all field trips and was subjected to the whining, moaning, and complaining by one teacher about the other, I didn’t want to find another job, honestly it for me was a fear that future employers wouldn’t look kindly on my leaving and the fact that while it was stressful the hours weren’t all that bad M-F day time only.
I ended that summer really glad to go back to school;) and feeling like I’d learned something. I’d learned to tough out a bad situation, I’d learned to coexist, to make do. Now looking back it would have been nice if I’d learned to speak up and gone to the director to explain the situation. Apparently some parents had picked up on it and complained as well as the director’s son being in the room and my last week all of us (the teachers in the room) got called on the carpet in the director’s office. It sucked.
Now though in my classroom I use the Kagan Cooperative Learning structures and my students work in teams. I’ve had students complain about their teammates and I use it as a learning experience. Sometimes you have the option of leaving and finding a new team/job/situation other times you have to stick it out. I know there have been teachers I’ve worked with that I didn’t get along with but we had all signed contracts and were stuck with each other for a year so we learned to coexist.
I think this is an important skill for kids to learn. Yes it’s ok to be mad, it’s even ok to not like a person sometimes personalities just simply do not mesh, but you must be able to work in the same environment and coexist. Mind you I’m not saying that kids have to do this with bullies, but simply with kids that aren’t their best friends. They still need to report and stand up to bullies whenever possible.