4 Feb 2015

Week 5- How are schools responding to bullying?

Another great week- it is actually quite difficult to imagine that this community has only known each other for 5 weeks.  The level of trust and sharing is remarkable- a testament to the students who have chosen this class, but also to some conscious decisions on how to build community among us.  Trust the process…I do.

Before I get started on the recap, I have noticed how I keep returning in class to the fact that this is an elective course.  As such, I suspect the students chose the class titled- creating healthy, safe and supportive learning environments- because they want to do this in their professional practice.  We seem to share a similar philosophy and there is very little overt resistance to the ideas being thought through.  I like that students are questioning the readings and the discussion points and thinking about the practical application of some of the ideas to build community.  Would this be the case if it were a mandatory class? I wonder about the process and how much work it may take to develop this level of community if more resistance were present.  This would definitely reflect a typical staff- a mix of different perspectives and approaches to discipline, community and curriculum.  It would certainly be a challenge for the instructor and one that I think would be interesting to observe, reflect upon and learn from.    That said, I wouldn’t change how things are this year- what a wonderful group of people that I get to work with and learn from every Monday.  Here is what we did this week:

Required Reading:

  • Olweus, D. (2003). A profile of bullying at school. Educational leadership, 60(6), 12-17.
  • Walton, G. (2011). Spinning our wheels: reconceptualizing bullying beyond behaviour-focused approaches. Discourse: studies in the cultural politics of education, 32(1), 131-144.

Supplemental Resources:

  • Olweus, D., & Limber, S. P. (2010). Bullying in school: Evaluation and dissemination of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 80(1), 124-134.

Learning Intention: Students will explore the work of Olweus..So that we can further build our understanding around anti-bullying programs.

Success Criteria: Literature circles- You will know you understand when you can discuss the successes and shortcomings of these programs.

Opening Circle:  Something Good in Your World

Using my globe squishy ball, we did a circle go-round sharing something good in our lives.  This is a great circle activity to remind students to focus on the positive in their lives- especially in times of tension/stress.  I know that we are half-way through the term and likely work is starting to pile up.  As such, it is important to remember what/who makes you happy and feel supported in times of struggle.

Circle Activity (student led):  What is your ‘superhero’ word to combat bullying?

The co-community leaders did a great job focusing on what we bring to the classroom as teachers or ‘superheroes’ in order to address bullying.  We were each given a coloured circle and were asked to write one word that would represent this superhero power to combat bullying.  There were a variety of words shared and reasons behind that choice as we did our circle go-round- the group compiled all the words into this image:

Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 1.40.47 PM

Four Corners:  Dove, Fox, Lion & Deer

In the 4 corners of our classroom, I posted the pictures of the above animals.  I then asked students to think about the following questions- one at a time.  They would go and stand by the animal that best represents them for the first question, share with those who chose the same animal and then choose a spokesperson to share their thoughts with the class.  It is always so interesting to hear the different interpretations and reasons for selecting their animal.  Of course, there is no ‘right’ animal and no ‘better’ choice.  I find these activities continue to provide insight into how we may respond as a group to conflict in a classroom/home.

1. Which animal represents you best when you are in or around conflict at work/school?

2. Which animal represents you best when you are in or around conflict at home?

VARIATIONS:  You can use any image such as scenery (mountains, river, meadow, ocean) or even words (strongly agree, agree, disagree, strongly disagree). You can provide students with an opportunity to move once they have chosen their corner or update their reason for selecting this corner.  Embedding content into the questions makes this strategy more powerful.

Here is one for Mathematics: OAME; History: Facing History; a description of the activity: Humber

Energizer:  The Community Handshake

As a class, we were asked to take our relationship to another level and develop a class handshake.  In pairs, we worked to develop a simple handshake that we could use when greeting one another outside the hall- building a sense of belonging to something unique.  After the pairs had finished creating their handshake, we joined another pair and shared our handshakes.  Then, as a group of 4, we had to select (or combine) one handshake to share with another quad.  This went on until we selected one handshake to represent the class– in the end we did a bit of a combo- Let’s see who remembers it in 2 weeks’ time…  wiggle, wiggle (snapping)/ hand slap, hand slap/ up high, down low/ and butterfly wings moving up to an ‘aaahhhh’ sound.  Am I right?

Life Maps: 

This is one of my favourite activities to further build inclusion and influence.  As a teacher, I always share my life map first and then ask students to spend some time putting down the key markers of their life.  It is not about being artistic or creative- it is about sharing key events with your small community.  Even if you write something on your map, you do not have to share it with the group.  I find this is so powerful to provide further opportunity to learn a little more about what each group members bring to the community.  I chose to do this at the half-way point because I felt we had developed our relationships enough to move deeper in our sharing.  Here is my life map that I shared with the class- please excuse the crude drawings:

life map


Literature Circles:  Since this is the first time I have done this in an adult learning setting, I am very pleased with the level of thinking and discussion that is happening.  It remains hard for me to stay out of the discussions, but I am enjoying reading the notes, the probing questions and the reflections on the process.  It has become clear that students need more time in their lit. circles and we have added music playing in the background.  The feedback is crucial to making this process meaningful to the class.  The area I continue to struggle with is trying to balance taking up their group discussions and not having the time to open it up to full group discussion and/or my own response to the readings.  Have to still iron this part out.

Closing Circle:  Trust circle lap sit

We had an opportunity to do a simple trust game when Micheal Montgomery came to visit on week 2– This week, the group challenged us to move our trust into another level.  We were to form a tight circle and sit down together- resting on each others’ laps.  To move it into another level, we were asked to start moving around circle together.  Here is a posting of another group doing this team-building activity:  Trust circle sit

It was important that the group provided the opportunity for group members to pass on this activity and it was really great to see that we were able to accomplish it (it is a big class!) although only got a few steps in….

See you in 2 weeks…




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