Oh boy, did I have a doozy of a day! I have two little darlings who are both vying for the top spot in our classroom. Both are extremely bright, opinionated and sociable. In short - 2 queen bees in one hive. Never a good thing! For about a week now things have been brewing. Petty sniping at each other, tattling, one upmanship etc. I tried ignoring it. I tried separating them, I tried punishing. Nothing worked.
Today was the last straw. On the way to the library these two little ladies started at each other again. I sternly reprimanded them and in fact gave the whole class a bit of a talking to, because they were getting lax in following line procedures. By the time we got to the library we were actually late and didn't have time to have the librarian read to us. I informed my class that they were to sit at carpet IN PROCEDURE while I turned in our books, and their behavior would dictate whether we could check out books today. Well, I look over to see two of the girls crawling on their knees, changing spots. Definitely NOT procedure! I asked what was going on and it turned out that one of my Queen Bees convinced another girl to switch spots with her so she didn't have to sit next to the other Queen Bee.
That was it! I had had enough! I informed my Queen Bees that they would not be getting any books today since they couldn't get along. In fact, since they couldn't get along, they also weren't going to get recess either. Actually, (I was on a roll!) since they couldn't get along, I was going to put them together at every opportunity. I believe my actual words were "Every waking moment until the end of the year!" Yep, I even changed seating arrangements on the spot so they sat at the same table. I told them they had to be the last two in line every time we lined up, just so that they could stand by each other. Basically, they were to do everything together.
We left the library and went back to our room where it slowly sank in that I was serious and they really did have to sit together and get along. As we lined up for lunch Queen A refused to line up - wailing that she couldn't stand it and her day was going to be horrible because she had to stand next to Queen B. I took her by one hand and Queen B by the other and marched down the hall to the lunch line. Queen A wailed the whole time, refusing to even get a tray. I decided that since she wouldn't choose something to eat that she would just get whatever Queen B was getting - down to the chocolate milk and two scoops of fruit salad.
When we got back to class Queen A refused to sit in her seat - wailing at the top of her lungs about how miserable she was and how she wouldn't eat because Queen B had made her tray. To their credit, everybody else managed to ignore her and eat, although they were shooting me bewildered looks, trying to figure out why I thought this was a good idea!
By recess time, Queen A was still in an uproar and wouldn't put on her coat to go outside. I told her she had two choices - go outside and walk the track OR stay inside and spend more time with Queen B. Contrary little thing that she is, she stayed on the floor, refusing to put her coat on! So Queen B got to stay inside too! I told her, "Look! Queen A wants you to stay inside and read to her!" Queen B sat with me and read to me (while Queen A groused in the background "I'm a better reader than she is!") For twenty minutes Queen A fussed and wailed - flipping up the corner of the carpet, pushing our rolling book rack out of place and generally acting like a 2 year old. Queen B and I continued reading aloud, ignoring it all. (At this point I was feeling pretty bad for Queen B who was taking it all like a champ).
Eventually - after a total of 50 minutes of continuous fussing, Queen A began to wind down. She went over to our Perler beads and snuck a glance at me. I watched out of the corner of my eye to see what she would do - I was almost to the point of throwing in the towel and admitting that this had been a majorly bad idea on my part.
Queen A took out a tray of beads and a dolphin peg board. I told Queen B, "Look! Queen A has a great idea, let's all make a bead design!" I brought her over to the table and plopped her down in the seat next to Queen A and waited to see what would happen. Queen A looked up, slid the tray of beads over to Queen B and went back to work on her dolphin. So Queen B and I started working on our own boards. Soon Queen B noticed that Queen A needed red sparkly beads and passed one over to her. Queen A muttered "Thank you." but kept her head down. I pretended I was absorbed with my beads and not paying any attention. A few moments later Queen A returned the favor by finding Queen B a blue bead. Next thing I knew we were all happily making our designs, passing beads back and forth and chatting calmly about colors and patterns.
A few minutes later the rest of the class came back from recess and I waited to see what my Queens would do. Queen B said "I'll put away the books we were reading Mrs. Knopf. Come on Queen A!" They quickly straightened up the classroom (including everything Queen A had messed up during her fit!) and then walked hand in hand to the carpet and shared a square. For the rest of the day they worked together, sharing crayons and chattering like magpies. When we went to our Student of the Month assembly they held hands down the hallway and sat next to each other in the gym, occasionally going so far as to lean against each other.
I have to admit, I did not expect it to turn out THAT well, and I am not sure if this change in attitude will last through next week, but boy am I glad it worked today! It was totally worth 50 minutes of screaming and crying to have them make such a dramatic turn around. The rest of the class is now convinced that I am a miracle worker and Queen A now knows that I can outlast any fit she cares to throw. Myself? I'm chalking it up to the magic of Perler beads - I am buying more this weekend - especially the red sparkly ones!