Saturday, February 28, 2015

Bullying in Schools -- #oklaed Chat 3/1/15

When I taught I took pride in my attempts to create a safe climate…a classroom of mutual respect where mistakes were learning opportunities, where we worked together, asked questions, and accepted each other. I loved standing in the halls between classes and dubbed those kids who were not in my class, “Hallway buddies.”

I tried to be alert to those troubling undercurrents in class…the sidelong glances, the arch smiles. The clenched fists, the fierce stares. I tried to address behavior that could be seen as intimidating immediately.

I tried. I read, I studied. I attended workshops about how to identify and prevent bullying in the classroom.

The last few years of my career, online bullying became a huge issue that spilled into the classroom…and since I’ve left, it has only gotten worse. The stories my high-school and middle-school Grands tell me curl my toes. Fake instagram accounts, Twitter used to harass.
Crimes committed away from school become school issues when victims and perpetrators…and their friends…all attend school together.

Earlier this school year, my Grand’s high school, Norman High, was rocked by conflict involving young women who had to attend school with the young man who raped them until he was withdrawn and arrested. The girls were stalked by the young man’s friends, called names, and forced to navigate a double degradation. They felt as if their attempts to reach out to school officials were unsuccessful.
Yes AllDaughters was born as a grass-roots advocacy group supporting the girls, and NPS responded to the subsequent rally by establishing a task force to insure the safety of all students.

I wrote about school bullying in response to this event, and was contacted by a representative of an online company who sells protection packages to school districts. I’m not sure this is the answer…but might it be an answer?

Very recently, attacks on girls from Moore, also off campus, have brought this issue to our attention again.  

In this current Legislative Session, there are several bills dealing with professional development, with curriculum in elementary classrooms, and with response programs. Griffith and Floyd’s HB1362, Denney’s and Griffin’s HB1684 (Erin’s Law), and Denney’s and Shaw’s SB303 will all affect our work in the classroom if passed.

My frustration with my inability, and schools’ inability to keep students safe, emotionally and physically, spurred me to volunteer to moderate an #oklaed chat. I want to combine the wisdom of parents, teachers, administrators, citizens. I want to learn what works and what doesn’t. I want to compile a list of resources school districts have found helpful in their efforts to identify, prevent, and respond to school bullying.

We all know society will not miraculously change, become a kinder, more accepting, more supportive place. We all know nearly a quarter of our children live in grinding poverty, with all the uncertainty that brings into their families. We know children come to us in the public schools with all the baggage of their young lives. But we know our mission is to educate, to give students options, to keep them safe, to model a positive way to face and overcome conflicts. We know policy makers will expect more and more from us, but we must continue to seek ways to make our schools safer for all our students, not because a Legislator thought it would look good to his constituents, but because it’s the right thing to do for our students. Because we’re educators.

With that as my goal, here are my questions  for the #oklaed chat tomorrow…If you plan to join us, please bring ideas about helpful resources or books or links or policies or products. Our expertise is vast, and we can help each other if we combine our forces.

#Oklaed Chat 3/1
School Bullying

1.      Please introduce yourself, tell your connection to #oklaed and  your current position
2.       How does bullying in schools affect you in your role as parent, teacher, administrator?
3.       In what ways do conflicting points of view between educators and parents complicate all our efforts to prevent and deal with bullying?
4.       What procedures does your school have in place to work with bullying children and bullied children? How well are they communicated to all stakeholders?
5.       How do you deal with bullying that begins OUTSIDE the school and affects school climate, such as bullying on social media?
6.       Two recent cases in Norman and Moore have made the news, with sexual assaults outside of school affecting the education experience of students. What plans does your district have in place to prevent or respond to such emergencies?
7.       What are your concerns and your hopes related to the proposed legislation concerning bullying prevention?
8.       Share a success your school has had working with families of kids who bully or are bullied. Or share a success your family has had working with schools. 
9.       What resources have proved successful in dealing with bullying in  #oklaed? I will compile our list and share.

So join us Sunday night at 8pm on Twitter, and help find solutions. Use the #oklaed hash tag to participate in our conversation.

I’ve begun a list of resources and books here…and am eager to add more.

Queen Bees and Wannabes, by Rosalind Wiseman
Odd Girl Out, by Rachel Simmons

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