What should recess aides do? Here’s a job description from a Google search:
Supervise students and maintain a cooperative atmosphere during recess.
Circulate among students and attempt to resolve minor problems as they arise.
Assist in organizing various play activities and games as provided by building administration and/or PE teachers. Supervise the dismissal of students from the playground.
A great percentage of the problems that kids coming to my social groups have been out at recess.
An elementary school boy is taunted day after day for being “infected” as kids run away screaming and he goes home crying every afternoon. Why is this happening?
A 5th grader who is a provocative victim (looks like a bully, but isn’t) and who has a 1:1 support person at recess is constantly in trouble for acts of aggression on the playground. How can this happen if there is 1:1 support?
A group of mean girls repetitively targets and excludes another girl who just wants to play with them. When she hides behind the school, sobbing, she is the one in trouble for leaving the playground. Why are these girls getting away with this?
I think there are many reasons. We may think that kids need to work it out for themselves. We may believe a child is a tattle-tale. We say the child is sneaky and does things when no one is looking and we can’t prove it happened.
I think an important question is ARE we looking? Working with kids is really hard, and I don’t minimize the difficulty of keeping an eye on everyone at all times. I also know many recess aides that do an INCREDIBLE job with kids. You know who you are and I am grateful the children have you out there.
I also have observed recesses where the adults are in a clump with each other (a natural human instinct) and may miss what is going on or realize an intervention is needed when it is too late. I have given professional development workshops for recess staff and been completely ignored and listened to other social plans being made while I was speaking.
Adults are the MOST important people on the playground. And more than that, we have so many wonderful opportunities to guide children and teach them how to resolve conflict, give kids they aren’t getting along with space, prevent meanness before it mushrooms, and teach kids (borrowing this phrase from a friend) to be good social citizens.
Certainly, if all is going well, the adults here in my group will sometimes chat with each other. If you were here, you would notice we are all face forward, watching the kids at the same time, with our social radars up to intervene early, and ready to leave the conversation at a moment’s notice to support a situation, or listen to what a child needs from us.
Children are not born with social skills. We are such vital role models, those of us work with them on the day-to-day. If we circulate instead of clump, we will not miss those opportunities to do all the incredible things we are perfectly positioned to do.
Leave a Reply