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Bob Sullo

The Responsibility Myth: Asking Kids To “Own” Our Choices

Adults rightfully want children to take responsibility for their actions. I'm guessing the following scenarios are familiar to you:

  • Cassandra, a 2nd grade student, is doodling rather than completing her work in class. A competent student, Cassandra frequently squanders time and has been spoken to by her teacher on numerous occasions. Today, her teacher says, "Cassandra, I see you've chosen not to go out for recess with your classmates today."

  • DeShawn frequently disrupts class. Today is no exception. His teacher has had enough and announces, "OK, DeShawn. I guess you've decided you want to spend some time with me after school today. I'll see you for thirty minutes after dismissal."

  • Jocelyn has been told repeatedly to clean her bedroom. Her mother believes it's reasonable to require a 13-year-old to keep her room tidy. After repeated warnings, Jocelyn's mother tells her, "I can see by looking at your room that you've decided not to go to the dance Friday night."

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Bob Sullo

Dealing With Students Who Bully: Part II

Once I've reminded myself of my role and goal, I'm ready to deal with Jon, the student introduced in my last post, "Dealing With Students Who Bully: Part I (The Essential First Step)."

The next few sentences are a challenge. I'd like to write something that my audience will like. And I know what many of you want: a recipe for dealing with kids who bully. The "right" thing to say. Some of you may be wondering, "What's the choice theory formula when faced with this situation?"

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Bob Sullo

Dealing with Students Who Bully: Part I (The Essential First Step)

Note: Just as I warned about the dangers of identifying kids as "victims" in my last post, I try to avoid calling kids "bullies." So even though it's faster and easier to label a kid as a bully, I prefer to say "a kid who bullied another." It might seem like a subtle difference, but I think it dramatically changes our perception and behavior.

After reading "Standing Up to Bullying: Refusing to Be a Victim," a reader from New Hampshire asked me to discuss how I would handle a student who bullies another. The following scene (or something like it) happened to me more than once during my time as a middle school administrator.

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Bob Sullo

Standing Up to Bullying: Refusing to Be a “Victim”

Note: The issue of bullying is serious and multifaceted. I am in no way suggesting that we don't intervene. I am in no way suggesting that we "blame the victim" and withhold necessary support. My goal in writing this piece is simply to make sure that our attempts to help don't result in exacerbating an already horrendous problem.

A teacher in Florida wrote and asked me to address the issue of bullying, specifically asking how we can help kids stand up to bullies. First, I encourage you to read "Getting at the Roots of Bullying," an article I wrote for the Virginia Journal of Education a couple of years ago.

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Bob Sullo

Helping Students Succeed in the Middle Grades

It's no exaggeration to suggest that the middle grades represent a critical time in the education of our students. Over the years, I've seen countless students do wonderfully well as elementary school students only to crash and burn in the middle grades. As we try to structure classrooms that offer academic challenges that are both rigorous and realistic, it's helpful to keep in mind some of the things that characterize middle grade students and what we can do to maximize their chances for success both academically and socially.

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