Nurturing a Safe, Just and Caring Community

Overview:

As a part of Bullying Prevention Awareness Month in October, we held our school-wide Olweus Kick-off event. This event is designed to bring our school together in a shared experience to focus on bullying prevention and to remind everyone of our school’s anti-bullying rules which are:

1. We will not bully others.
2. We will try to help students who are bullied.
3. We will try to include students who are left out.
4. If we know that somebody is being bullied, we will tell an adult at school and an adult at home.

After reviewing the results of our OBQ (Olweus Bullying Questionnaire), we decided as a school to focus this year on how to empower students to support their peers and to intervene when a classmate is being bullied. Some refer to this behavior as “upstanding.” A recent article in the October 2015 issue of Kappan states: “A central component of a positive school climate is an emphasis on nurturing not only student academic and intellectual growth but also their social, emotional and character development (Cohen & Elias, 2011). The article continues by highlighting the importance of fostering a positive school climate, which both supports and encourages “upstanding” behavior among children. This is our focus this year at Lawrence.

School-Wide Kick Off:

In our school wide kick off event on Friday, October 23rd, 4th-8th graders presented scenarios to their K-3 peers in individual classrooms. The older students then led discussions, some with the whole class and some in smaller groups, with the younger students focused on how they could respond to various situations that were presented to them.

Situations focused on social dynamics at recess, in the cafeteria, and in the classroom, such as how do you respond when one student calls another student “stupid?”

Results So Far:

At the end of their time together, classes engaged in a “Headline” routine, a thinking routine that encourages students to think about the big takeaway of the activity. Classes completed posters that captured their ideas using the sentence stems: “You can say…” and “you can do…” These were shared at our K-5 Community Meeting on Friday, 10/30 and in 6th-8th Advisories as well. Some of the ideas that students shared as part of this thinking routine are outlined below.

We Can Say…. We Can Do….
That’s not fair. Tell a teacher or other adult at school.
Can you please stop? Help each other
Hey, that’s not true. Tell an adult at home
You shouldn’t call people ______. Walk away
Sit and/or play with other classmates

Please continue to communicate with your children about what they can say and what they can do in various situations. Children benefit from knowing that the adults at home and at school are working collaboratively to ensure that they are learning and growing in a safe, just, and caring environment.

Laura Horst
laura_horst@brookline.k12.ma.us

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