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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Response to Comment-Ideas worth sharing...

This comment was left on a post concerning bullying.
Anonymous said...

Mrs. Thomas,
I must say I really enjoy the blog! I was reading this blog and the newspaper article about bullying and I was not really clear about an issue that involved tattling. I noticed that reporting or telling that you are being bullied is encouraged but not tattling. Well for younger children and older children really how do they know the difference? If students do tattle and are told that they shouldnt would that not lead the person bothering them to believe that it is okay to continue and wouldn't that eventually in some cases lead to bullying. When students report that they are being picked on or hit and is considered a tattle taler then that encourages students to not tell anymore regardless of how often they are picked on because after all who wants to be labeled a tattle taler. I personally think a tattle taler is a student that constantly tells Ms. Doe hes looking at me, hes touching my arm, he tapping on the desk, etc. but not a student that tells that they have been attacted physically or called names. I personally teach my child if someone hits you "tell the teacher" and I really dont expect him to be ignored or called a tattle taler. I am sure if I told him everytime someone hits you or call you a name you hit them back or call them a name back that would lead him right to the principals office. So where do we draw a line for our kids to know when it is okay to tell and when it is not, I think that that needs to be clarified for both students and parents. Thanks for your response, A concerned parent
Dear Concerned Parent,
This in an important concern and one worth pondering. With such a seasoned faculty and staff, they each have their own method for distinguishing between simply telling on someone to "get them in trouble" versus telling on someone to keep them out of danger (Suzy is jumping OFF the monkey bars) or keep themselves from danger (Suzy is hitting me). 
     What I have discovered in my 28 years in education is that often students want to tell you what someone else did, but leave out their part in the scenario. This is where my comment about knowing the students, their names, families, etc., and watching children comes into play. I call it WITHITNESS or as some folks say, the teacher must have eyes in the back of his/her head. A child should never hit another child...period. This is our policy and the school system policy, too. That is a definite TELL THE TEACHER incident. 
     It gets fuzzier when addressing verbal bullying. Children have different levels of sensitivity and what one child blows off as good natured teasing, another may take to heart. The key is teaching children how to socially interact with  peers, how to bond as friends, and how to be aware of other people's feelings.  Conflict resolution is an acquired skill that evolves as children grow and mature. Adults sometime miss out on this skill depending on their own childhood experiences. 
     A one time incident with two students might mean they need a chance to talk things out, but a continued reoccurrence between two children could be a bullying situation. We do not want any child to feel powerless while at school. Often we run into situations where children talk to parents (which is a great thing), but do not share their problems with the teacher or any of the 31 other staff members we have at Young. This makes it difficult because the problems need to be addressed as soon as possible. 
     We have made some changes at Young to address this issue. I keep a basket outside of my office for children to put notes. I value and address their concerns as soon as possible. Teachers send children to me that need to work things out among themselves. This allows them to continue teaching and instructional time is not lost. Teachers in several grades have a TRUTH Book to let children record concerns. Some teachers have a box that children can slip notes if someone is bothering them. A big effort to empower children, especially the bystanders, has been implemented. Teachers at the beginning of the year address the code of conduct, especially items that address physical, verbal or cyber bullying. Reminders of the expectations are given throughout the year. 
     We have seen an increase in children stepping up to share problems they are having with another student. Some have not developed the skills to work through a problem with another child. This is where we can help. Our school system has a licensed family therapist who serves the district, a interventionist through D.H.R., a counselor on staff 3 days per week, and a loving faculty and staff. Each morning during announcements, I share a character education quote and thought for the day. Being proactive and making it important to grow as young people will pay off in the future. There will always be bullies in the world, but when children gain confidence and knowledge on how to maneuver through life and difficult situations, they will be happier and more successful. 
R. L. Young is a good place to learn and grow, BUT it is also a work in progress. Our faculty and staff continues to grow not only in their abilities to teach and reach all students, but also in their skills to help children feel safe, loved, and valued.  We do not want anything that distracts children from learning what they need to know academically. In society there will always be those who put others down, tease, call names, and/or mistreat people around them. The most important thing for parents, educators, and schools to do is help build our children's confidence, give them the skills to handle and reason through difficult situations, teach them it is OK to seek adult help, give them the avenue to receive assistance, and be alert to children who mistreat others.
     It has been said that elementary educators teach character education all day. This statement is so true because each year 20 + children with varying levels of maturity, academic abilities, social skills, and values are meshed together to form a classroom. The most amazing and beautiful thing is that R. L. Young teachers  do a superb job creating a happy community of learners.  This occurs because of the close connection we have with students AND parents. This does NOT happen in all schools across the nation. We are truly blessed at Young!

Thanks for the comment and the opportunity to share my thoughts on the subject. 

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