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?"
In this video, cyberbullying expert Justin Patchin defines cyberbullying and provides tips for schools on appropriate prevention and response practices. Use this video to start a discussion with your staff about what cyberbullying is and which policies and strategies are most effective for disarming it.
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.
What was the key takeaway from this year's Bullying Prevention Summit, hosted by the Department of Education?
It's not a revelation that we need to focus on the big picture, not just the incident. We need to be deliberate about influencing the environment and culture that allows bullying behavior to take place.
All educators want to improve what they do for kids, but they need help doing so. On a daily basis, we’re thinking, planning, and taking steps to improve school climate and culture, provide high-quality curriculum and instruction, be leaders, assess meaningfully, engage our families and communities, support our own professional development, build staff capacity, and more. How do we balance these multiple school improvement priorities in our schools and with one another?
ASCD conducted its second Whole Child Virtual Conference in May. This free conference showcases schools, authors, and research about implementing a whole child approach for a worldwide audience. View and share archived session recordings, presenter handouts, and related resources at www.ascd.org/wcvirtualconference.
Gain further insight into ways to support a caring and positive school climate through these presentations:
A couple of weeks back I wrote about “The Unknown Students" and outlined a simple process for discovering which students are flying under the radar and are unknown by adults at the school. In discussing solutions such as having adults linked to students as mentors to get to know them, it was made clear that the key factor is that the students believe that their teachers and other adults at the school know them. It’s not enough that we may think we know them—it has to be from the students' perspective. In this situation, the students' perception is their reality.
But, this doesn't automatically mean that teachers need to do more, engage more, or try more. For some teachers, it means that they should actually keep doing what they are doing, but be more aware of what they are doing and why it is being done.
"Today educators are interested in the whole life of the child. They are aware that experiences in school affect not only the child of today, but also the man of tomorrow. No longer is 'book learning' the total aim of the days and years of classroom attendance.
There is also the recognition that the health of the child determines his ability to deal with his school tasks. The next step toward understanding man at his various stages of development is being taken by recognizing that only the mentally healthy child can make full use of the tools for living handed him in school."
This quote is tailor-made for our look at what it means and takes for children to be mentally healthy. It was also written 63 years ago, in May 1949, by Dr. Mabel Ross, director of Prince George's County (Md.) Mental Health Clinic in ASCD's Educational Leadership magazine (read the article [PDF] and the full issue).
Despite the rumors, school improvement is hard. It's not about a single passionate leader. It's not about "fixing" teachers and teaching or parents and parenting. It's not about poverty. It's not about money. And it's not about standards. It's about all of them. And more.
In this column, I'll take on the real deal of school improvement—for all schools, not just certain kinds. And for all kids. Because it's not about quick fixes or checking off the instant strategy of the moment. It's about saying, "Yes, and...", not "Yes, but..."; no matter what our circumstances are. It's about asking ourselves the best questions.
The best questions are those we ask ourselves. Personally. Individually. They are not the rhetoric-laden, subtly fault-finding or responsibility-avoiding calls to action that permeate Twitter posts and website headlines, but the first-person singular translations of those thoughts. What will I do? What do I do? How will I change? Although we find comfort in collective action and group activities, the real change, the real progress, and the real meaning comes from individual action based on individual reflection.
In a teleseminar recorded earlier this week, Molly McCloskey, managing director of ASCD’s Whole Child Initiative, was interviewed by ASCD author and Rutgers University professor Maurice J. Elias. McCloskey shared information about specific initiatives and examples of how a whole child approach ensures that each child, in each community, is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.