in the morning, we all drew our own self-portrait (the teachers included). in the afternoon, we all began with our own picture. We then rotated pictures one person to the left. i then told the children that they had to crumple the paper they now held. They looked mortified. None of them wanted to, but for the purpose of the lesson they did. We then rotated left once more and crumpled the pictures again. Afterwards, we gave the pictures back to their owners and I told the children to smooth out all of the crinkles from their pictures. None of us could.
i explained that our words are like the crinkles in our pictures. What we say cannot be taken back, whether kind or hurtful. if our words are hurtful they create crinkles in our friends. No matter how we try to smooth out the hurt, it's still there. Saying sorry is a wonderful thing but it cannot take away our words.
i explained that i noticed that none of them wanted to ruin their friends' pictures and hurt them, so why would we want to say hurtful words? They agreed that we wouldn't. We agreed that we would be careful of our words to ensure that we weren't "crinkling" our friends, moms, dads, or siblings.
The lesson became rather emotional and some of the children did cry. i was told by many of them that they hated this lesson. i had to tell them that i did too. it was a difficult conversation but a necessary one.
i explained to the children that they are all wonderful, smart, beautiful students and that i know they are friends. But sometimes we just need reminders. When the lesson ended, one of the third-grade boys asked if we could read the notes from the friendship box (students can write notes about the kind things their friends and classmates have done or said).
On Thursday, we made new self-portraits to display in our classroom.
On Friday, whilst the littles were in art class, i put all of the pictures on the wall with a banner that reads "NO MORE CRINKLES". it was amazing to see them all file in after art; once they saw that i'd hung up the pictures they frantically looked for their own. They found all of their friends and complimented the hard work that they'd put into their pictures.
it was beautiful. Those are the moments that i love. The small moments that i know will last. The small moments that make a great change. They're beautiful.
our crinkle-free pictures displayed on the wall