Gossip, gossip, gossip hurts someone
So if you teach Middle School and you tell others, there is a similar theme in their response. It is along the vein of, "Oh, it takes a special person to teach middle school." With that, they mean there is a lot more a middle school teacher needs to navigate than just curriculum and classroom management. It is the time in a student's life where their identity is truly starting to form. However, with that budding personality are areas where students can fall victim to the pit falls of growing up.
In my 5th grade class this past year there was a lot of drama. That's an understatement. However, the root cause of drama often is gossip. My co-teacher and I realized we needed to deal with the issue head on. From experience, lecturing at students does not yield the best results. Often time constructive understanding of an issue will drive home the teaching point. Who knows when, but I had epiphany, well an idea. In order to teach my students how gossip gets misconstrued, students should play telephone. Everyone knows how with the classic game, the original saying never is the same when the last person hears it. Just like gossip, the first person's version of a story is never the same when the 5th or 6th or 17th person shares it.
I was blessed to have time in the morning that is devoted to social and emotional learning in my schedule with my homeroom. While it was incredibly short, my lesson was quick, but lasting. That day, I launched the lesson to say that we are playing a game. I split the class up and explained the rules of Telephone. I let them play and watch how frustrated they became when the original phrase was not the same by the time it made its way down the line. I then started a class discussion with the students about how this relates to some of the problems our class was experiencing during recess or at lunch. I never used the "G" word, but students were able to draw the connection that what was happening during the game was also happening when gossiping. I allowed them to discuss the impacts and how to avoid gossip and its effects. To wrap up the lesson, I repeated everything that the students volunteered and how to stop gossip.
While I would not claim to cure the world of gossip, it was refreshing to see the impact of the lesson on my class. It was also a great anchor point, when further down in the year students were getting caught up in drama or rumors, I would remind them of the lesson. It was a refreshing reminder to students to see how their loose lips can manipulate the truth.
1. Divide class into groups.
2. Explain rules of telephone. Student is given a phrase or sentence and then passes it down the line. Last person repeats what they heard.
3. Give first student lyrics or a song/sentence/phrase, have students read them and whisper them to next person. Eventually it gets passed to last student.
4. Have students discuss how the activity felt.
5. Reorganize student order.
6. Repeat 3 & 4 one to two times depending on time.
7. Come back together as a whole class and discuss how this relates to gossip and what happens when you start talking about something you heard.