When kids come to me and say “it’s not fair” my response, in the nicest possible way, is “life’s not fair.”
I just added a new chair to my classroom, it’s a teacher rolling chair. And I already hear kids saying “It’s not fair because Billy has gotten to sit there twice and I haven’t gotten to sit there at all.” They are right. It isn’t fair. Because my classroom is not fair. The only way my classroom would be fair would be to get back all the desks and chairs. Then every students gets a chair and a desk and it’s fair. But that isn’t what kids want.
I’ve determined that when students say “It’s not fair” what they mean is “it’s not what I want” or “I didn’t get my way.”
The best way I can think of to work with this “its not fair” phenomena is to continue to talk to my kids about how our classroom is a community and we want to work together and help each other. So if I get to sit in the new rolling chair today, I should be considerate of my classmates and not sit there tomorrow. This is definitely developmentally advanced for my third graders, but it is a necessary life skill that I hope to at least plant a seed of.
My students learn early on that my classroom is not fair. And that unfairness is in their best interest. In my classroom, fair isn’t everyone getting the same thing. Fair is everyone getting what they need in order to be successful. This unfair concept also applies to my students with special needs or on plans. I don’t want them to be embarrassed that they need a test read aloud to them, or to get bombarded with questions from other kids about why they get to use an iPad and nobody else does, or if they have to leave the room to see a specialist.
We do not do this perfectly by any means, but my kids are 8, and that’s okay. We’re working on it.
This is a great illustration to use with the kids to explain this topic.
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