“He doesn’t play well with others.” This was the phrase I overheard a teacher utter to a colleague in a workshop this week. Though she was referring to one of her new students, with the residual effects of the pandemic still lingering, I’m guessing most teachers are seeing this concern with many of their students.
I understand this problem, personally. I was socially awkward had horrible social skills when I was younger. I had very off-putting behaviors – and since we never see ourselves the way others see us, I was completely unaware of my skill deficits. To make matters worse, I was (and remain) an extrovert. So my behaviors were on full display for all to see.
Fortunately, as I have gotten older, my social skills have improved. In fact, I’d venture to say that the deficits of my youth have become my strengths as an adult. As most of my workshop participants will confirm, striking up conversations with people I don’t know is really not a problem for me.
Teachers, as you are aware, the pandemic really set kids back with regard to their social development. Not having had many interactions with peers for over a year created skill deficits. And just as it takes differing amounts of time for kids to master academic skills, so too is the case with social behaviors. Be patient; improvement will happen, but for some, it might be a long time before change is evident.