Invite the student to play together and embrace fun.
The student does not get along with his or her peers. Is it a bad hair day? Are there exams? is this an exception because we see this student relating positively most of the time? So we do not jump to conclusions. But if the low score persists, we can start to explore what might be going on.
A low score does not necessarily mean that the student is a loner. They might be part of the gang or team, but as far as they experience it on the inside, it is not easy or enjoyable. They are not feeling relaxed or accepted or they are always thinking that others are better. The sideways glance of the adolescent is always prone to comparing. Who is smarter? Who is smarter? Who has more friends? And that can make “other people” into hell, as the famous philosopher said. So what can we do to help a student who signals to us through MyScore that being with others is not going well.
There are two ways we want to highlight. One is to invite the student into more playful and fun settings of group activity and less into competitive or achievement status projects. When students experience learning as play, and fun, they relax that inner voice, that inner censor that is always comparing, and they become kids again, free, uninhibited, energized. Do your interactions with the students add the fun factor? Do you create play for them, even if its just in a smile or a joke, or a friendly comment in the corridor. An AmeriCorps member is not a teacher or a parent so he or she can sometimes be ridiculous and whimsical, without anyone getting mad.
At Project CHANGE, we always want our members to remember that its not how the student experiences them as AmeriCorps that matters so much as how the student experiences the member experiencing them. You might want to read that again. There is a double loop of learning here, so that a child is always gauging the reaction as a response to who they are. Are you happy when you see me? Are you always distracted when I speak? Are you experiencing me in such a way that you are giving me back as flawed, or less than, or a pest, or a burden?
What is the member mirroring back to the student? And that does not have to be in words? Am I saying to Tomasina or Gerard, you are fun, you are smart, you are valued, your words matter, and that you are capable and responsible and creative.
Think again of Collaboration as not a static quality that inheres in a person but rather as being in- between, or in a network. What is the group experience like that makes a student say they do not get along with others that well. It might be that the student is being bullied, or has not found the right sort of friends. So at least one thing a member can do is make that effort to get along with the student who is saying she does not get along. That way, you create an exception to the rule and reflect back to the student that indeed, he is someone people can enjoy having around. You do.