Spread Love, Not Hate

Spread Love, Not Hate

So today is the day! Thanks for joining the bloghop as we speak out against bullying!

I called the last post Perfect Timing, meaning that it was great that I had found the link for this idea at the same time our school was celebrating No-Name Calling Week.  But maybe I should have used that same name again today, as we had another great conversation about what’s been going on with bullies in our classroom.

First, though, a reminder of what happened a few weeks ago.

After that conversation, we made these for our school’s KROB news broadcast to promote No-Name Calling Week:


Dominic tells about a time when he was picked on for his size.


Doniya says she’s sorry for what she’s done.


Kelsey comes clean and apologizes.


Taylor speaks her mind about bullying.


Lauren and Molli talk about the changes that can happen when friends talk and problem solve together.

So, today, as we have for the last few weeks during our class meetings, we came back to the topic of respect and bullying and how we’ve been doing with this.  It seems that all is not perfect in our 5th grade world.  While many in our class wanted to believe that one meeting could change things forever, today we had more concerns bubble up related to how some of us have been speaking to each other in a less than respectful way.

I kind of have a love-hate relationship with this topic lately–I love that they are willing to continue to come back to the table (er, carpet) to talk about it, but I hate that they have to.  I, like many friends in my room, wish it was as easy as saying once that we’ll all change our ways and be friends forever.   Obviously, though, it’s not that simple, and it’s something we’ll continue to work on all year together.

Our meeting was pretty intense at times today, with questions and concerns coming up about some of the same things we dealt with at our first big meeting.  In the end, there were several one-on-one conversations that sparked from it, and we had to just agree to change some pretty big things in the way we deal with our classmates.

As our closing circle, I asked the class to tell me what they would take away from our class meeting today.  I was glad they said what they said; I think they’re reflective like me: at the moment it may not seem like they’ve “gotten” it, but after they have some alone time to process, they come up with some pretty great stuff!  Here’s what they said they learned from our conversation today:

  • I learned we dwell on the past. (Many people mentioned things that had been done to them weeks ago, rather than today or this week.  They were holding on to things that had already been apologized for or that were no longer being done to them.  Many of us were holding grudges and not believing that certain people were changing.)
  • I learned that we should assume positive intent. (I taught them this phrase last week, as a way to work together in a more positive way.  It’s a norm that the teachers in our school work under, and is based on the idea that if we assume that our friends have positive intentions–even if they look or sound like they’re being mean or ugly–we can often avoid problems or confrontations.  We can, after all, only control our own actions, not the actions of others.  We should give our friends the benefit of the doubt, not always assuming that they’re trying to be mean.  Maybe they’re just having a bad day.)
  • I learned that we should say something when someone does something we don’t like, instead of just ignoring it. (Today lots of kids mentioned that they were fed up that others continued to annoy them or do mean things, and they admitted that rather than tell that person to stop, they had continued to let it happen, or responded in an equally mean way.  Eventually, when they were really mad, they’d tell the teacher or bring it up in a class meeting, rather than dealing with it immediately.)
  • I learned that just because someone’s saying my name doesn’t mean they’re saying bad things about me–it might even be a compliment. (Maybe–just maybe–they’re laughing about something completely unrelated to you.)
  • I learned that if someone comes to me and tells me that my friend said something about me, I should go to my friend and find out about it instead of just being mad or doing something mean back.  (Getting the truth out and finding out what really happens helps to clear up misunderstandings.  This is soo much better than being mad at your best friend for what ends up being no reason.)

I can’t decide if I like that class meetings are on Fridays or not.  Sometimes I wish that they could come back the very next day and start working again on getting along and fixing the problems we discussed at our meeting.  But at the same time, I appreciate the space that is afforded us by the weekend.  Being allowed to talk about issues and work through them together, and then have some time (and space away from each other) to continue to think about it on our own before we come back together helps us to be ready to act differently once we see each other again.   Kind of like the “time heals all wounds” idea, a topic that was really hot on Friday can simmer down a little by Monday so we can better respond–rather than react–the very next day.

I love this group of kids I work with this year.  They have their struggles (but what group of people who spends 8 hours everyday closely together doesn’t?), but they are still so willing to work through them.  Deep down they really just want to get along, and they try so hard to figure out how to make that happen.  Even though it’s hard and messy, and sometimes it seems like we’ll never get there, so far we’ve come to some better understandings of each other.  I hope that the lessons we’re learning about relationships this year are ones that will stick with them long after they leave the safety of our Rm. 201 community.

So now it’s your turn:  tell us what you think about our life lessons.  Or tell us about a life lesson you’ve learned lately.  Do you have any advice for us about how to work together or how to work through a conflict?  What advice do you have for us as we tackle bullying head-on?  We’ve love to hear from you!

 

 

As a String Pulled Tight

Ok, before I start, I have to warn  you that what I am about to tell you about is really so incredible that any words I choose to use won’t really do it justice, but since that’s what happens here, I’m going to give it the old college try. 🙂

There is a big long back story I could tell you about life in our room lately–the not-so-pretty part that I don’t usually post about–but I’ll just state it simply:  we have a problem with bullies in Rm. 201.

So today at lunch I made the decision, with the help of my good friend and teammate Melissa, to have a meeting about it.  We decided it was time to lay it all out.  To sit down and hash out our problems together.

I have to admit I was a little nervous about it.  I wasn’t sure we’d come to a solution today.  I wasn’t sure how long it would take.  I wasn’t sure if I’d have all the answers I needed, if kids would be willing to share, and I really wasn’t sure how the bullies would react to the conversation.

But–like I have done on many other occasions in my teaching career–I had to put that aside and take the risk.  Jump in the deep end.  Go for it and trust that we would figure it out together.  And what happened next was nothing less than remarkable.  I’m going to borrow some words from my friends’ blogs today to help tell some of the rest of the story:

  • I think this resent class meeting was amazing never been better. I’ve never seen my class mates be so cooperative and helpful. Every one was amazing. I hope that the next class meeting is no different than the one today. I think many shout out’s have been given and I hope that everybody knows how absolutely outstanding it was.
  • YYYYYYAAAAAAYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We had an awesome conversation today about bullies!!! I don’t know bout you, but I don’t like  bullies! But our class is so much more… fun,happy,nice, and friendly! I have never seen anything like it! it’s amazing!!! I am not scared to leave my things  out. We discovered who the bullying was.  So nice to know what was going on but now we do good bye bully’s!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:)
  • Today after lunch Mrs. Bearden pulled the entire class to the carpet in a circle to talk about bullies. The tension in the room was so bad, it was like I was a string being pulled really hard. We handeled it soooooooo well it was amazing! Mrs. Bearden said to tell names which no teacher has ever asked me before. It was scary I was afraid that if I said anything to someone, that they would get mad. But when the brave people in our room stepped up, It was amazing everyone was great. And it got even better when a friend of mine stepped up and said that she would like to say sorry to every one she had hurt.

             That broke the string.

                After that we talked about apoligies and eventually came to saying that we will start fresh.    Right   now as I am blogging well you probably not reading this as I am typing it, but as I am I hear people who would not usually laugh together, are. Every thing feels great in here. Especialy after we all had 2 billion pounds on our shoulders when we were talking about bullies.

  • Today, are schedule changed after lunch/recess–a lot. Wait! Let me say that again–a lot.Here is how it went…We stopped in the familiar 3rd grade hallway on our way to room 201. Mrs. Bearden announced that when we walked into the classroom, we would not be sitting on the carpet facing her rocking chair, but in a circle. We were all very confused, but did it anyway. We all sat on the carpet in a circle. Mrs. Bearden sat with us and said “We have some bullies in our class” Everyone’s eyes paced around the room, searching for the bullies. Then, Mrs. Bearden said that this was just like a class-meeting, except we would be mentioning names. Silence. That was when the action happened.Everyone said something about how they have been bullied and who bullied them. When I was done with mine, I cried. I was so scared because I didn’t know what the bully would say to me about me sharing the scene when I was bullied. But everything was fine. The bullies said sorry in a serious, emotional way–they even got an applause. The one who bullied me came to me privately and said sorry. Everyone was so happy after the hour-and-twenty-five minute meeting.
  • People in my class are so nice. They tought me not to take that anger out on them just because my brother did that to me.  And they didn’t do that to me. They are just trying to help me and be kind and try to be my friend. I really thank Evan for been a really good or really really great host. I am so sorry. Tomorrow a new girl is going to be walking in this class and is going to hang out with people a lot. I said that stuff from my heart. I had almost cried when I heard all the people say my name. It was like a radio going. I was like “I really did this stuff to these people.” I was so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so sorry. I really think Evan can be a great host.  The show can be called “The Evan C. Football Player Show”. So thank you everybody and I am sorry for what I did. I am so sorry for calling you a big elephant head and sorry for being mean all the time. And I mean all the time. Sorry. Bye!

This meeting, which was not structured like our usual class meetings, was a truly amazing scene.  I wished that I had taped it, so you could really see and hear what happened.  I was beyond impressed and proud with how bold and brave and honest everyone was.  They were so respectful and real while they calmly aired their grievances and talked about how they felt.  There was a natural leader that arose, and he did such a super job of synthesizing, restating and clarifying what the group was saying.

After about an hour-and-a-half, we got to a place where we clearly understood 1) what the problem was, 2) why some of it was happening, and 3) what we were going to do about it.  The feeling in the room was calm and relaxed and we knew that everything was (and is) going to be all right.  Obviously we didn’t solve all the world’s problems during that session, and we know it’s not going to be easy, but we have hope.  We know what we’re capable of, and trust that we will do what say we will do.

Time will tell, but I believe we’re on the right track. I think we’re at a fork in the road, a turning point.  We grew together today, had a shared experience that we can use as a benchmark for the future.  We’re closer, and we care more for each other.  So many people left with such great energy that I know it will affect us in a really meaningful way.

Remember all the times I’ve said my kids were amazing?  More proof today of how that statement is true.

What stories do you have about bullies in the classroom?  What advice do you have for my students about how to deal with bullies?  When have you had a scary conversation that ended up better than you’d expected?  We’d love to hear from you!