Miss Chen's blog: Learning to negotiate

Little J & Big Cuz is an animated children's series that follows two Aboriginal children who live with their nanna and lovable dog. The 13 episodes explore the unfamiliar world of school and how, with the help of their teacher Miss Chen, Little J and Big Cuz navigate their first years of school life. In this regular blog, Miss Chen will be sharing some of the F-2 resources she's been using in her classroom, which are all available to download for free via the Little J & Big Cuz website.

Hi, my name is Miss Chen and I am a primary school teacher. Teaching is one of my greatest passions in life. In fact, my goal is to have my students enjoy school as much as I do! I'm the only teacher in my school so I have to work hard to ensure my F-2 program is dynamic and based around the children's interests.

While my father was born in South East Asia, my mother's family have been in Australia for generations. My mum taught me a lot about the land and the importance of Aboriginal culture but I still have lots to learn, which is why I love working closely with Indigenous elders and other families in my community.

On this blog I'll be sharing some of the exciting resources I've been using in my classroom that are all free to download on the Little J & Big Cuz educator resource page.

In today's activity, the students in my class learned the art of negotiation.

As I'm sure any teacher of young students will attest, working with children means you often have to be a mediator. Young children are still identifying their own strengths and achievements, and building their identities. Often that means that we need to explicitly practise accounting for our own and others' feelings when making decisions in the classroom.

In today's lesson, I asked the Year 1's to share stories about their experiences of sharing ‘spaces' at school and at home. For example, in the playground when one group of students want to play a game that requires more space than is currently available. How do these students negotiate with the other students to share the space?

As part of a whole class discussion, the students came up with quite a range of different ways to resolve a situation like this, and were able to suggest ways that all the children could get the space they needed, to play the games they wanted to play.

We then discussed the following scenarios, and I asked the students to work in groups to come up with their own peaceful resolutions for each of them.

  1. I woke up late one morning and needed to get to school on time but my sister was in the bathroom, and I needed to clean my teeth before leaving the house. She wouldn't let me in the bathroom. How do I get my toothbrush?
  2. My friends and I are playing in an area of the playground, but another group of children wanted to play ‘Red Rover' in the area where we are playing. For them to play their game, we can't play ours. There is nowhere else to go. How do we find a way to work together?
  3. A new student arrives in class and sits next to me. They spread their belongings all over the desk and take up too much room so that I can't do my work. What should I do? I don't want to hurt their feelings on their first day.
  4. My little sister is being read a story by my Auntie, but I need a hug, NOW! How do I share my Auntie?
  5. We are travelling to my grandparents' place and it is a long drive. My brother keeps moving across to my side of the car which annoys me. I ask him to stop but he doesn't. What should I do now?

Discussing each of these dilemmas gave me such a wonderful insight into how they would like to resolve issues in their world. They showed real maturity in the way they considered each other's feelings and came up with some diplomatic resolutions to each of the problems.

More importantly, this activity provided a great foundation for another lesson I have planned next week where we'll be discussing the concept of (native) land rights.

We'll be seeking to identify the difference between ‘owning land' and ‘belonging to' the land. I hope that our work today will help them when considering the issues involved in land rights' claims, and how the two sides could negotiate the issue.

The resource mentioned in this blog post is directly related to Little J & Big Cuz Episode 12 ‘Territories’. It is recommended that your students view the episode before engaging in the activities listed in the resource.

Visit the Little J & Big Cuz website to view the full suite of resources for each episode in the series.