Cyber-bullying programs at St. Julia Billiart Catholic School in Toronto’s Markham area Tuesday May 6, 2014 made an impact on staff and students. The message was about Responsibility and Respect and how Cyber-bullying would not exist if we all took the responsibility for our own actions and made up our minds to live with complete respect. Of course we’re all human, but I like to look at the positive side.
St. Julia students and staff proved to me they are already incredibly respectful and responsible. That’s probably why our cyber-bullying prevention message was so well received. They were interactive and totally tuned into the songs about respect and cyber-safety. They were wide-eyed as they watched the videos. Discussion about bullying and cyber-bullying revealed that Continue reading →
Yesterday we visited a Toronto Catholic School where the topic of bullying in elementary school is definitely taken seriously.
Georges Vanier Catholic School Principal, Ms. Silvana Reda, is obviously passionate about the topic of bullying as well as child safety. She has discovered many ways to help stop bullying in her elementary school as we were to learn during our visit.
Happy Students: If students feel happy and respected, bullying in elementary school is diminished. That is certainly a belief that I personally share. After presenting hundreds of anti-bullying programs, I have come to the conclusion that one way to reduce bullying in elementary school is to make sure students feel respected, appreciated and happy. There are a number of ways to do this, and I’ve talked about them some of my other blogs. However, students tell me that one of the things that make them feel happiest in school is simply having a sense of belonging. Children want to feel safe, they want to feel included, and they want to feel a sense of importance. Students want to feel empowered in their environment. When you think about it, the same thing is probably true for most of us as adults. Don’t we want to feel safe included an important in our workplace? Don’t those things help us to feel valuable and empowered? I believe the answer is an emphatic yes.
Happy Teachers: I believe the following statements to be true in many cases:
Happy teachers are productive teachers.
Happy teachers generate happiness in their students.
Happy teachers get along well with other staff members.
After meeting thousands of teachers and visiting hundreds of schools, I really believe that a powerful way to reduce bullying in elementary school is to make sure the teachers enjoy coming to their jobs. One person who can help make this happen is the school principal. She or he can create a working environment which puts teachers at ease while at the same time resulting in a productive and creative atmosphere.
Activities: There are many activities which can take place during the school day to remind students about the virtues of respect, kindness and consideration. These activities can certainly help to reduce incidents of bullying around the school. Principal, Silvana Reda gave us a tour of George Vanier School Catholic School pointing out many activities her students had done which were related to respect and bullying prevention. Caring Tree– In the front hall area is a caring tree which reminds everyone in the school about acts of caring which take place at Georges Vanier. Bulletin Board Display– Each class creates an anti-bullying poster monthly which is displayed on the board for all to see. A monthly anti-bullying theme keeps it interesting. Posters – Throughout the school are anti-bullying posters featuring students from Georges Vanier. The messages and designs of the posters were created by students for students and have been reproduced on professionally looking hard board and then permanently mounted on the walls. Murals – The library features a colourful mural around the room on the wall near the ceiling. This mural is very inspiring and makes the room come alive. Announcements – Play song clips, read catchy slogans, or have a ‘respect’ word of the day. Contests – Get everybody involved in contests by offering fun prizes or even giving the winning class celebrity status with the school mascot for a week. If your school mascot is the cougar for instance, have a stuffed cougar which spends time in various classrooms or locations in the school as part of the award system. You could run a poster contest, a write a catchy song contest, a slogan for a month contest or even a math or science contest. Your imagination is your only limit.
So the three key ways to help stop bullying in elementary school are:
1/ Ensure students feel respected, appreciated and happy.
2/ Help teachers be happy in their roles
3/ Bullying prevention and respect activities
How can we truly change the climate in our school? Can we actually re-form opinions that students and staff possess? Is there a way we can change a negative or mean-spirited school climate into one where cooperation, kindness and consideration abound? Can respect activities actually make a positive difference?
Many Respect Activities at St. Sofia School
The short answer is yes; these kinds of changes can be made. In fact there are schools in our own jurisdictions that prove this fact. Attempting to define the actual system or step by step list of procedures to achieve these goals could be a challenge, but it is safe to say that some basic respect activities can go a long way toward making a difference. Here are some tips to get started.
First of all we must define what we are actually trying to achieve. Many people would agree that we are trying to achieve a climate of respect within the walls of the school. In my opinion respect must start from the top and sift its way down. If the administration, including all the teachers, all support staff and even custodial staff live respect in their day-to-day work at the school, then others will begin to take notice. By others I mean students and even any parents that may be in the school. Many teachers use model respect to their students daily and many teachers use specific respect activities in their classrooms in their day-to-day teaching and have done it for years.
If your older students in the school show respect to each other, younger students will definitely begin to take notice. As younger kids began to learn from their older role models, they will begin to see respect as the norm. Situations and incidences which do not show respect will begin to be seen as highly unusual and unacceptable. All of these steps, of course, take time to initiate. In some schools it may take months, others may take years, while still others could possibly take decades in order to make these kinds of profound changes.
There are a number of tools which can help speed up this change so the transition can begin to take place sooner. The following activities will help to grow respect and to compound the effects:
1/ Form a student group which focuses completely on posters, announcement reminders, and other methods of awareness to help remind students and staff about the goal of achieving respect.
2/ Run special spirit days throughout the year which will help you get people on board in a fun way. Examples are: pink shirt stand up for respect day, be kind to someone day, pass on a smile day or respect activities workshop day.
3/ Special assemblies can also be a great way to help lift the spirits of the student body, and get everyone working in the same direction.
The above ideas for respect activities are only starters, but once you begin, I believe you will be moving toward a most worthwhile destination — achieving a climate of true respect in your school.
To conquer bullying, let’s strive for less conflict in the world. How to do that … self-forgiveness. (Read on to learn how we can calm the bullying epidemic by learning the concept of self-forgiveness).
When you are comfortable with both your strengths and weaknesses, you radiate simple, unaffected humanity. Self acceptance, total self acceptance, means self-forgiveness. When you forgive yourself and stop judging yourself, then you won’t judge others, and there will be less conflict in the world.
Bruce Langford is an anti-bullying advocate and speaker/presenter. www.brucelangford.ca telephone: 905-233-2102
This song I wrote about confidence can get in your brain like a jingle you can’t forget. It will help you develop confidence because it has real advice which can work for anyone. Remember, you can be your own best coach. Encourage yourself and remind yourself you are doing fine. Listen to your own positive, upbeat encouraging words about how you are doing. Trust in yourself, focus on what you CAN do and LISTEN to you!
Confidence Song – Copyright 2004 Bruce Langford
1. Confidence, confidence,
no matter how bad it gets confidence.
Determination – it can get you through.
Absolute belief in what you do.
Certainty and trust can do it for you.
Hang in, trust in yourself.
2. Confidence, confidence,
no matter how bad it gets confidence
Give yourself credit for what you do
Don’t be so concerned about win & lose
A new experience is another chance for you
Focus on what you CAN do!
3. Confidence, confidence,
no matter how bad it gets
Don’t expect perfection in all you do
Remind yourself your best is awesome for you
Tell yourself you’re doing fine, you’ll get through
Listen, listen to you!
Bruce Langford is an experienced teacher and presenter of school programs on bullying, respect and confidence. Book him for your school – Stand Up Now Productions www.brucelangford.ca or 1-800-901-8831
Listen to the Confidence Song here:
Michaelle Jean Public School Vice-Principal, Heather Levitt was impressed by the ‘stellar’ performance of Presenter, Bruce Langford at the ‘Stand Up For Respect’ assembly which was a kick-off to the school’s character education program earlier today. Music, videos and role-play were all used to leave a lasting impression with the students.
Michaelle Jean student actors were extremely energetic and passionate during their performances for the school during the assemblies.
The students offered this tip as a way to keep respect in the school:
“Teachers should always try to make school fun! That will make students want to be respectful when they are at school. The teachers at our school almost always make learning fun!” Above Comments by a Grade Three Student Actor
“The Stand Up For Respect performance by Bruce Langford was absolutely stellar! The assembly involved the kids in a fun, realistic way and thoroughly covered the topic of respect.” Heather Levitt, Vice-Principal, Michaelle Jean Public School, York Region District School Board
Stand Up Now Productions presents assemblies at schools across Ontario.
Melody Northrop, Principal at Guthrie Public School in the Simcoe County District School Board believes that Character Counts. That’s why she was instrumental in arranging to have Character Counts t-shirts for all staff members to wear on the
Character Counts T-Shirt - Guthrie Public School
first day of school, Sept 6, 2011. Three Character Counts assemblies helped to emphasize the theme with students and staff.
As guests in the school presenting ‘Stand Up For Respect’ assemblies (part of the Character Counts campaign), we were presented with t-shirts in front of a gym filled with junior students. Ms. Northrop said that character education is an on-going effort at Guthrie. “Every year we have some kind of character ed shirts to help get the message out,” she explained. The message on the shirts was reinforced with posters and banners on display in the school.
The students we talked to definitely agree that Guthrie Public School is a great place to be. They talked about teachers that make learning fun, plays and dramas, sports and the ‘really nice’ principal (Mrs. Northrop).
Get students and staff excited about building great character – undertake a character counts campaign!
Bruce Langford – Teacher/Presenter of Character Education and Bullying Prevention programs (www.brucelangford.ca)
Just visited Grenoble Public School near Toronto, where we performed a Safe Schools Concert before a whole gym full of enthusiastic students. We sang about ways to support and encourage each other in every-day situations. Students learned real life examples about how to encourage others and end up having a safer school. Cyber-safety and the internet was one of the concert themes as well. The song ‘Stay Safe’ explains that computers connected to the internet need to be in a central place in your home, like a kitchen or family room where everyone goes. It also teaches that personal information should not be published on-line. Here are some of the song lyrics:
Your address is personal information, stay safe, stay safe;
Your phone number and your school name too.
Do not share personal information.
Not in on-line conversation.
Keep things private, no hesitation,
Stay safe, stay safe, just some friendly advice.
At home play computer in a central place, stay safe, stay safe;
A kitchen or a family room where everyone goes.
Share what you’re doing with your family.
Work at the screen where all can see.
Then you will have help when a problem comes up,
Stay safe, Stay safe, just some friendly advice.
Remember to work together and do the right things to make your school a safer place.