Thursday, January 31, 2013

Peace Promise

A few months ago, bullying became a buzz word at my school.  Our AA and I heard it all of the time.  We brought in a bully show from a local community theater group, and I had done various lessons on bullying in classrooms, so the kids had been hearing the word “bully” a lot.  A lot of the notes I received from students was thus about “bullying” situations.  One thing that stood out to me was that when I followed up with the letters students were writing me about being “bullied,” many actually turned out to be more about conflict resolution than bullying.  Some of the students just didn’t know how to get along w/ each other when there was a problem and resorted to understanding the problem from the language they had been hearing around the school: I have a problem, so I must be getting bullied.  Others it seemed really did have bullying situations going on, and my AA and I felt at a loss for how to stop it all. As a school, we all needed to understand and be on the same page about the definition of bullying, what it looks like and how we can choose to be a peaceful school.

So, I got together a plan to teach our students and teachers the definition of bullying and invite a discussion on how to bring peace to our school.  However, there is only one of me and I didn’t think it made sense for me to switch up my curriculum in the middle of the year to do a bullying lesson in each class.  Instead, I used an app on my ipad called Educreataions and created a digital storytelling video to define bullying.  (Educreations allows you to create videos that are basically like a digital white board.  I used pictures and recorded myself talking and writing.)  I emailed the video out to all teachers (with admin’s blessing) and asked that they find a time to show it and reflect the discussion following the video in their lesson plans.  After they watched my video, I directed them to a skit of the Juice Box Bully that I found on YouTube.  If you have never read this book and you are interested in promoting peace to end bullying then it is a MUST read J  I really liked that at the end of the skit, the kids all signed a Peace Promise saying that they would not stand by and watch bullying happen.  

So, of course my students needed to sign a peace promise too!  I put up a bulletin board with facts about bullying surrounding the Peace Promise and asked my teachers to have their students all sign it after lunch the day that they showed the videos.  The students loved it—and it has been a great tool to help students recognize that bullying isn’t cool or funny, but terribly hurtful and rude!  I think it is such a simple thing, but has brought a visual of peace and community to our school.

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