Today, I had the pleasure of spending my day with the 4th-7th graders at Pohatcong Township School in New Jersey.  This is my fourth visit to the school in recent years and it’s so awesome to be invited back again and again by a team that is truly dedicated to social-emotional learning in addition to traditional academics.

Last year, I spoke with kiddos about how the small, daily acts of kindness that they do in school are the most powerful way to bring an end to bullying.  We also talked about the difference between rude, mean, and bullying behavior and how to best respond to each one.

This year, we got into even more of the gray area and nuances of peer interactions, talking about the key differences between kidding around with friends and the kind of teasing that creates hurt and upset feelings.  We were all on the same page with the fact that we like to laugh with our friends and that joking around is fun!  Because they could so easily agree that kidding around is one of the best parts of being friends, the kids did a great job at thinking through and identifying when a joke crosses the line into being offensive or unkind–and how to prevent this from happening whenever possible.  We talked about what to do when we have inadvertently crossed the line and made a list of topics that should never (read: ever) be joked about.

With the younger students, I also shared the story, Just Kidding, by Trudy Ludwig.  The kids loved it!  I got to share this autographed copy of the book (courtesy of the author) with one winner of a random drawing, which was a great keepsake!

I taught eight back to back classes and loved every single one of them.  Great kiddos with fantastic insights and lots of say.