William F. Natale Jr.
The most widely used tool in this wit is the teacher-led group discussion; in fact, the teacher is the key. In discussion things get out in the open. Just knowing that others feel as we do can sometime make us feel much better. Children often tend to think in a “one against the world” way. It helps for them to see that others might have the same problem or fear (fear of darkness, of a father who drinks, etc.). As stated above, the teacher is the key to these discussions. He has the choice, he can hide all of his feelings, he can cover up or he can be open and honest about his emotions. He sets the pattern, if he allows and encourages openness the children can be open about their feelings. However, if the teacher disapproves of strong feelings, the children quickly sense this and the lid is on. No anger, no fear, no anxiety, no joy.
In addition to large group discussions, many small discussions or what I call small guidance groups can be formed within the classroom to deal with specific incidents. Such incidents as poor attendance, moodiness, quarrels, etc. can be dealt with in these informal talks. These groups would probably be much more conducive to self-contained classrooms than departmentalized ones.