Have you ever had one of those days where every single child in your class feels that they must to tell you every single, teeny tiny, itty bitty problem that has happened throughout the course of the day? Have you ever felt that if you hear a child say your name one more time you might explode into a million little fragments?
I had one of those days a couple of months ago, and instead of pressing the self-combust button, I miraculously came up with a new solution to all of the tattling. It amazes me that some of my best ideas come when I am frustrated. Does that happen to anyone else?
I would like to introduce to you, the heart pillows. Two years ago I bought the heart-shaped pillows with arms from Ikea and they were used to cuddle up with, while a student was reading. In my moment of frustration, I decided that these heart-pillows were going to have more power in my classroom. They were going to help the children solve all of their problems, and mine!
I decided that if a child had a conflict between another child, they should invite them to take a heart-pillow and bring it to a quiet place in the room or the hallway. They would take turns sharing how they felt and explaining the reasons for their reactions. They were going to work together to find a solution and apologize if it was needed. To explain the new and improved heart-pillows I did lots of silly role-modeling, where I was the problem causer and another student invited me to the heart-pillows.
At first the students in KB were a little heart-pillow happy. Every single problem had to be solved on the heart-pillows and I still needed to help mediate the conversations. Now a few months later, I am amazed by the students’ abilities to communicate their feelings and to listen to the other person. They compromise, empathize, sympathize and solve their problem independently. Rarely do they require my assistance any more. Although I find it very entertaining to listen in to their conversations.
The best part is that they are starting to realize that the heart-pillows don’t have any magic powers. They can solve their problems without the heart-pillows and that is just what they are starting to do!