Bullies Beware

 Last week our staff and students took a stand against bullying. As with any research, students and teachers took time to review statistics, videos, newsletters, photo stories and media resources to define their understanding of what bullying looks and feels like at a variety of ages and in different scenerios. There were some brilliant discussions taking place, and a tremendous amount of trust-building occurred in the process. (Looking back, I’m quite certain these discussions did not take place when I was on the other side of the classroom. Bullying happened, talking about it seldom did. Is this a comment on a societal shift to share more?)

Then another cool thing happened.

Students were invited to share their learning with the school.

Much like last year’s character education assembly, we gathered in the gym to present our take on the issue. I’d been working with a grade 8 class on making Animoto vidoes and they were encouraged to create something personal in this format for the assembly. Here is an example of student work. A grade 6/7 class also took a stand, and in an incredibly short time frame came up with an iMovie, which, scripted with their own phrases and blended with facts from their research, created a pretty powerful production as well.

The message I share with my students, (and with my own children, for that matter), is that we need to BE THE CHANGE. When the Northwestern Health Unit did a workshop with our students, they were asked to stand on a value line across the room, (strongly agree -> strongly disagree), and respond to the following statements:

  • I have been bullied
  • I have been the bully
  • I believe that bullying should not happen
  • I believe that I can make a change

What we saw was, of course, that in the first three statements most students veered to the “strongly agree” end. On the fourth statement, there were clear differences. More girls than boys believe they could make a difference. The younger the student, the more strongly they believe they CAN make a change.

As adults, we continue to see bullying happen. (I challenge any educator to say that it doesn’t happen, in one form or another, in their own staffroom.) The beautiful thing about diversity is that we all have varying thoughts, opinions and values, as well as a myriad of human emotions. We have feelings, and they get hurt. Our words matter. Actions speak louder than words. Often, what isn’t said, speaks louder than what is. All truths.

So, as educators, we clearly have lots of work to do. The conversation continues. The work can not end at the end of anti-bullying week. But, from the looks of these video productions, we have some wonderfully well-equipped partners to work with- our kids are awesome.

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