27 Jan 2015

Bullying- Week 4

It is hard to believe that we are in week 4!  On one hand, it feels like time is flying by (almost at the half-way mark!).  On the other, it is hard to imagine that we were mostly strangers only 4 classes ago when you look at the community and the sharing that has been happening.  Trust the process, indeed.

Today’s topic was about Bullying- examining the successes and challenges of various programs.  We used the following articles as anchors this week:

Required Reading:

  • Swearer, S. M., Espelage, D. L., Vaillancourt, T., & Hymel, S. (2010). What can be done about school bullying? Linking research to educational practice. Educational Researcher, 39(1), 38-47.
  • Guerra, N. G., Williamson, M.A., & Sadek, S. (2012). Youth perspectives on bullying in adolescence. The Prevention Researcher, 19(3), 14-16.

Supplemental Resources:

  • Carrera, M. V., DePalma, R., &Lameiras, M. (2011). Toward a more comprehensive understanding of bullying in school settings. Educational Psychology Review, 23(4) 479-499.
  • Walton, G. (2005). “Bullying widespread”: A critical analysis of research and public discourse on bullying. Journal of School Violence, 4(1), 91-118.

This was also week 2 of our students taking the reins as community co-creators (shout out to Kristin Reimer for these titles!).   Once again, they were amazing & I will try to do their work justice below.  Here is the run-down:

Learning Intention: Students will explore the question of bullying. So that we can frame our responses around the subject

Success Criteria: Literature circles- You will know you understand when you can highlight the key issues from the readings and state your own position/provide critique.

Opening Circle (student-run):

We started with slam-poetry To This Day Project.  We were then asked if we wanted to share our own stories of a time when we were bullied.  Although this was originally supposed to be an online survey, it turned into a circle sharing.  I felt honoured to listen and share in this experience.

Put Yourself on the Line:

In response to our work last class, I wanted to address what was happening at  Dalhousie (trying to get the right pronunciation in my head!) University in the Dentistry Faculty.  I showed a short clip of the University President announcing the suspension of the 13 male students and the University’s use of restorative justice from the CBC.  From here, I asked students to weigh on whether they thought the use of restorative justice was appropriate for this case by putting themselves on the line- literally standing along an imaginary line where one end represented ‘strongly agree’ and the other ‘strongly disagree’.  Even though we had many students clumped around the middle range, there was some disparity.

From here, I did a Fold the Line, where one end snaked around until the strongly agree and strongly disagree were across from one another and each student along the line had an opposing partner.  To clarify- this was not to be a debate.  This was a discussion- a chance to hear another person’s opinion and reasoning.  As such, I used the Paraphrase Passport strategy-  student A (one side) would speak for a minute, then student B would paraphrase what they heard.  Then roles would reverse.  There was no chance to argue positions.

Once back in the circle we discussed the challenge of listening to someone’s position without jumping in, paraphrasing others’ positions and deeply listening (especially when it is very noisy).  This is a great activity to share different opinions (you would eventually keep rotating down the line to get a multitude of positions) and learn to paraphrase/listen.  It also can sometimes be enlightening to hear another person’s argument and see how that may impact your own position.

Many students shared that they didn’t hold a position as they did not have all the facts in this matter; something that doesn’t seem to be a problem for many commentators to various websites.  I do respect the various positions that have been shared in the news and it is certainly a complicated,  interesting & messy situation.  I look forward to watching this unfold.  For more information, check out:

Restorative Justice- Dalhousie University site

Emma Teitel: When restorative justice isn’t enough (Maclean’s)

The Avalon Sexual Assault Centre’s letter to the Dalhousie President

Dalhousie Students condemn restorative practice in Facebook scandal” (Jan 6. CBC)


Literature Circle #2:

The topics of our lit. circles were the readings and from my facilitator stand-point- there was some excellent discussion going on.  I find it quite amazing that I have absolutely nothing to do at this point- I am really not needed at all!  The points shared by the groups were excellent and really cut to the heart of the readings and some of the issues raised around ‘bullying programs’ and the missing discussion on context- impact of social ecological considerations.

Energizer: Who is the leader?

Sitting in a circle, one participant is chosen to leave the room (or cover their eyes).  A member of the circle is chosen to be the leader.  They begin my making a movement/sound (clapping hands).  All participants copy the movement.  The object is for the person in the middle to figure out who is the leader.  They have 3 guesses.  [Amazingly- each centre person was able to spot the leader- not usual for this energizer!]

Guest Presenter: George Singfield, Principal of Symmes Junior High School & D’Arcy McGee High School (WQSB)  School Website

George has been my mentor, administrator, colleague and friend (even drama troupe member!).  He shared his personal experience and philosophy with regards to bullying with the class.  In particular, he clarified the difference between pillar and program in terms of how a school deals with bullying.  He also discussed his view on the various definitions of bullying and shared the various way he and his school are trying to build a culture of kindness, empathy, caring and respect.  George shared the ways in which the students are engaged in the process and how, as a school, student voice is fundamental.

This video was created by students for the Not in My School – Pink Tuque launch.  So powerful!

This book is on George’s reading list:  Student Voice: The Instrument for Change by Russell J. Quaglia and Michael J. Corso.

Student voice

Students were also introduced to the awesome polling tool that can be easily integrated into their classroom: www.poll

There were lots of questions, lots of stories and I was reminded, once again, about how lucky I have been to have had the chance to work in a school with George as my principal, with colleagues so dedicated and inspiring- and students that make Symmes and D’Arcy such fabulous schools.

Closing Circle: (student led)

In order to shift the energy to end on a more positive note, we had a student (a certified yoga instructor) lead us through a few breathing and stretching positions (nothing too strenuous!) and it is amazing what this can do to the mood.  There are lots of great resources to help build mindfulness in the classroom (60 second breathing).  We then enjoyed some up-beat music and formed inner/outer circles with blank papers taped to our backs and had the chance to write a compliment on the backs of 5 of our community members.  I didn’t have a chance to read mine until I got home and set up my computer, and it was certainly nice to have a little blast of positivity in that particular moment.  It was a great way to share some of the positive gifts we bring to our class community.

Looking forward to next week.



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