ARCANUM — Two Arcanum-Butler first grade classes recently learned a lesson on respect.
Arcanum-Butler Local School District Elementary/Middle School Guidance Counselor Ashley Matheson goes into the classrooms and teaches kindergarten through fourth-grade-students Character Education traits.
“This may be the only time some of these kids hear these things,” she said. “Hopefully, here, they can learn some of these life skills. They are character traits, but they are life skills they can take throughout their lives.”
Some of the traits are: responsibility, perseverance, caring, self-discipline, honesty and courage. Respect is October’s character trait. Respect is defined as showing high regard for an authority, other people, self and country; understanding that all people have value as human beings, and should be treated accordingly. Matheson hung a big sign spelling “RESPECT” in the front of the class. Each of the letters meant something.
“Who can read the first letter?” she asked the students. “‘R’ – recognize that everyone is different. Look around you boys and girls. Look at your classmates; what do you see? Does everybody look the same? Everyone looks, thinks, acts and smells differently. In order to show respect, we need to recognize that everyone is different. Is that ok?”
“Yes,” the students said.
“Can you imagine if we walked in here and everybody looked the same?” Matheson asked. “That would be super boring, right? It is good that we have differences.”
The letter “E” in respect stood for empathy.
“Empathy means you are able to listen to someone and connect with them,” Matheson said. “How many of you have ever lost a pet? Look around at the hands up – there are several people. Because we lost a pet, we can understand how each other feels.”
The rest of the letter definitions were as follows: “S” self monitor, “P” personal space, “E” earn trust through actions, “C” cheer others and their successes on and “T” treat everyone as an equal. Matheson broke the students up into pairs and asked them to give examples of respect.
“How would you practice respect if someone on the bus was saying unkind words to another student? she asked.
“Tell them to stop,” a student said.
Matheson explained that a person who stands up for someone else is called an upstander. A bytstander does nothing, she said.
“If someone is treating someone unkindly, you need to be an upstander and stand up for that person,” she said.
Another lesson for the students was how to greet people in the school hallway. She told them when greeted, to look at people and respond accordingly. They took turns learning how to shake hands.
“A lot of times I will be walking down the hall, I will say, ‘Hi’, and people ignore me,” Matheson said. “Does that show respect? We need to respect each other by acknowledging them.”
The students finished up with a dice game that explained more details about respect. Matheson said she is lucky that Arcanum-Butler has more than one school counselor. It allows her to have more time with the students. She also enjoys the variety.
“I like that my job is never the same from day to day,” she said. “I never know what to expect.”
First Grade teacher Diane Bowman said she appreciated the respect lesson for her students.
“I don’t think basic manners seem to be taught anymore,” she said. “Sometimes this could be the only place they learn it. They seem to need some of these social graces. After class today, we teachers will remind the students of what they learned on a daily basis. We will ask them, ‘Does that show respect?’ “We try to carry it on.”