I've known a lot of kids over my teaching career, both individually and collectively. It's funny how a group takes on a personality of its own; any teacher will tell you it's true. At the end of last school year, rumor had it that we had a good group coming up-- the fifth grade teachers reported that these were the nicest kids they'd ever taught.
And they ARE nice. I sat in the theater this afternoon as 200 sixth graders listened and asked questions about the IB Middle Years Programme that we have at our school. They were very polite and eager to participate; they asked terrific questions that showed they were listening and engaged. Before that, we had our first class meetings of the year in my English classes. We use Glasser's model, and the counselor comes in to facilitate a student-directed agenda. The first session is usually taken up by guiding the students to set rules for the group, but every meeting includes compliments and the chance to identify topics to discuss.
In each class, I looked around the circle and listened carefully to each of the comments, not just its content, but also the spirit in which it was offered by the individual student. I tried to observe how the comments were received by the group as well. These kids were super-positive-- it was great to hear how happy they are with the school, and their teachers, and each other, too.
I'm curious though: how does that happen? How does one group develop characteristics different than another, even though the members of each are very similar? Where does a group dynamic come from? Not that I'm complaining, mind you.