Courage is fire, and bullying is smoke.
Our schools are wonderful places for kids to learn and grow. We work hard to implement a curriculum that is both challenging and engaging and provide a variety of extracurricular activities that ensure that every child has a way to connect to the school outside of the classroom. However, our first priority is always student safety. This means that we have changed the way guests enter our buildings, instituted new safety procedures, and run disaster drills with our students. Additionally, we have made it our goal to address bullying in our schools head on.
As is our practice, we devote our first early release day to addressing bullying and relationship issues. We provide students with anchor activities at each grade (5-8) that serve as a jumping off point for further conversations throughout the year. Our fifth graders focus on the definition of bullying and building new relationships; sixth grade focuses on the formation of cliques and being inclusive to all. Seventh grade’s focus is on cyber bullying and keeping oneself safe online, and 8th grade addresses issues of gender based bullying. As you can see the presentations and activities are developmentally appropriate for the age level of the kids and allow for some amazing conversations.
This proactive approach to addressing bullying in our schools goes way beyond the legal requirement which dictates schools address bullying after it has taken place. Our belief is that we must give kids the skills and tools to engage in positive relationships so that bullying doesn’t occur. As I walked from classroom to classroom yesterday, I listened to the conversations that were taking place and confirmed that this program was having a positive effect. The kids in our schools are so thoughtful and really understand how detrimental bullying can be. Additionally, we have a student and staff Bullying Task Force (BTF) that works to address relationship issues and keeps these issues on the forefront. Both of these programs allow kids to be in the driver’s seat to make our school a more positive place. While the adults put the structure in place, our students are the ones who make the change. Thanks to all the parents, teachers, administrators, and especially students who make these programs possible.
One of our students at the junior high was so moved by this work she created the video below. Again, this is a great example of how caring, thoughtful. and proactive our students are.