I had my penultimate class with the MHS 8th graders today. I have taught most of these students since the 4th grade, and it is crazy to think of how much they have grown.
This time we talked about the value and characteristics of friendship. We started off by filling out a questionnaire about their beliefs on a wide variety of topics (questions like, Agree or Disagree: “A man should always hold the door for a woman” or “I like to camp” or “I think teens should have a curfew”).
After responding to those statements, the students had to go around the room and find other students that disagreed with them. A lot of the students were surprised that many of their friends had different opinions than them (the implication being that even though we may have different opinions we can still be friends and respect each other).
After that, the kids broke into small groups and talked about the following questions:
- What makes a good friend?
- Are there different or additional qualities that make a good boyfriend or girlfriend?
- What are your dealbreakers for a friend or a boyfriend/girlfriend?
Finally the groups went through four scenarios about typical teenage situations:
- You have a friend that you think only hangs out with you because of you cute older sibling…
- Your boyfriend/girlfriend gives you a hard time every time you hang out with your other friends…
- You think you’re good enough to earn an athletic scholarship, but your BFF is kind of a knucklehead and always getting you both into risky situations…
- You’re worried about a test and want to spend some extra time studying, but your friend wants you to blow it off so you can go to the mall…
The kids talked about how they would feel in those situations and how they would handle themselves.
We all need to evaluate our relationships from time to time and assess if we are surrounding ourselves with good relationships or if we have developed any that could be hurting us. Additionally, are we being a good friend back? If the kids can take a little time to think about these questions, they will probably make better decisions overall, and they will have better relationships throughout their lives.