Try this to encourage tolerance in middle school students!
Middle schools can be tough places. Students are changing and often trying to figure out their place in the social chaos of school. Students might avoid classmates who are different because of preexisting biases and assumptions. Just like adults, it can be scary for students to have to talk with and work with classmates they don’t know well. Anything teachers and schools can do to help students see that every classmate is a human being who deserves to be treated well is a good thing.
In 2002, Teaching Tolerance came up with a simple way to get students to interact with classmates who they normally wouldn’t: Mix It Up Day.
Roosevelt Middle School partnered with Power Up, Speak Out! and the Red Lodge Area Community Foundation to sponsor Red Lodge’s second annual Mix It Up Day on October 25!
Travis and Sam (and Brooke from RLACF) led an assembly skit helping students see that differences can be cool. We also led activities throughout the day that asked students to interact with classmates from different grades and different peer groups. These included games to help the students get to know each other better. Plus, we shared a great video by Kid President, “Making New Friends.” In addition, we posted large quotes around the school about empathy, being good friends, and celebrating differences.
Students were asked to wear mixed up clothes – this included outfits that were backwards or inside out as well as mismatched pieces. Students also had to Mix It Up during lunch – each student received a hand stamp that told them which table they would sit at during lunch. This breaks up the usual friend groups and cliques. We’re not going to lie: some students hate it and some students love it. But, overall, the students had fun!
Students from the school choir also planned and participated in a flash mob of the Harlem Shake during lunch. A community volunteer, the principal, and a student put on an expert Oreo Panel where students saw that there’s more than one way to eat an Oreo cookie. And students and teachers were interviewed throughout the day about what they learned. The middle school will use the footage all year to help encourage staff and students to remember to treat everyone well!
For more specific ideas of the games we used and the ways we partnered with our school administration, give us a call or shoot us an email – we’d love to talk to you! You can call our office at 406-446-2296 or email Travis, email@example.com, or Sam, firstname.lastname@example.org. Or you can visit the Teaching Tolerance website.