Thursday, December 30, 2010

As Schools Confront Bullying, No Easy Fix on Horizon - The Boston Globe

Jennifer Mitchell’s students participated in a lesson in antibullying at the Ivan G. Smith Elementary School.
(Photo by Suzanne Kreiter/ Globe Staff)

As I read this article, a few questions came to mind:
As schools confront bullying, no easy fix on horizon - The Boston Globe

"A mother told of the night her teenage son went to a school dance. Her son suffers from autism and was intimidated by the social setting, but nonetheless ventured onto the dance floor. Unknown to him, a classmate videotaped him and posted the video on the Web. Come Monday morning, the teen was met with a barrage of insults and taunts about the video."

1. Why would any of our children want to be any part of this? By this, I mean videotaping, posting, (watching the clip), insulting, and taunting. Do we want to be a culture that enjoys making fun of people who look or behave differently?

"The week before Mitchell convened the meeting in her classroom, a group of Smith students had organized a recess group modeled on a popular television show. The group voted students out of the group, and then barred them from watching the proceedings."

2. Why do so many TV shows consider public humiliation "entertainment"?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Prevention, Reporting, and Intervention

It is true that we need to report and investigate carefully all alleged bullying incidents. I know what it is like to have someone systematically and consistently victimize my child. I know that feeling of helplessness because I am not in my child's school and I cannot be there to help.

Yet, reporting, investigating, and consequencing bullying behaviors is just one component of creating a safe school. Effective intervention is very complicated. As grown ups, we need to stand up for those who are easy targets. Sometimes, they also need help seeing how they provoke or annoy others. Yet, there is the balance of not making them feel that they cannot be true to themselves.

We need the silent majority to be positive bystanders. They see the bullying and they can be empowered to speak up. They can also scoop up and include the child who is at risk. When not isolated, (s)he is much less likely to become an easy target. When the bystanders come to us, we must pay attention. Very often, children stop reporting bullying because they feel that we either don't listen, or we are ineffective in stopping it.

Lastly, we need to teach our children to be powerful in the right way. To be able to control someone or elicit an emotional response from someone is a powerful experience. Everyone can be tempted to try this behavior on for size. Sometimes the same child may be victimized and targeting another child at the same time. So when the school calls, it is really important to work with the teachers closely. When parents and teachers work together, children feel safe and supported and work hard to change their negative behaviors. Consistently consequencing negative behaviors while replacing them with positive ones is the best way to redirect a misguided sense of power. We have to inspire our children to find power in acts of kindness such as picking fair teams, inviting someone in the peripheral to join the group, or simply walk away and take others with him/her when someone is acting like a bully - refusing to participate or give audience.

Burlington school leaders confront bullying head-on - The Boston Globe

Monday, December 13, 2010

Shopping for the Holidays

Many of us are holiday shopping for our children. Another generation of elementary age children will have cell phones, iPod Touches, and other electronic devices with internet access. Although I am a techie at heart, as a parent I too, have struggled with helping my children be safe and responsible with their use of technology. Rosalind Wiseman, my all time favorite author, is moderating a panel called "Generation Mobile" with the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) tomorrow. While reading up on the event, I found this resource page.

Please feel free to check this out:
Resources for Parents at the Federal Communications Commission website. At first glance . . . not bad . . .

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Friendships - We All Need Them

Oprah Winfrey surprised the six friends when they drove onto the stage of her show on Sept. 13. (George Burns/Harpo Productions)

Moms are very busy people. We bear a great deal of stress. We carry worries which flow into our dreams. We are not very good at taking care of ourselves. Friendships, true friendships, give us a place 0f belonging. According to Maslow's hierarchy of needs, a sense of belonging is a must-have before we can attend to our need for esteem or for self-actualization. I, too, have a group of friends with whom I spend a long weekend every year. It is a safe place where we can be honest, open, and vulnerable. A place where we can count on someone to tell us when we are wrong, remind us when we need to hang on, and reassure us that we are loved no matter what.

The link below leads to a story on the front page of today's Globe. It is a heart-warming story~

Oprah honors 6 longtime girlfriends from Mass. - The Boston Globe

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Saturday, October 30, 2010

We Are Overloaded with Candies - HELP!!

Getting ready for a pumpkin-carving party at home today and thinking about all the candies that are coming our way . . . what to do, what to do . . .

Great article for helping our children manage their candies:
Tips for Dealing with Halloween Candy Overload

And here are some tips for the grown ups courtesy of "GaGa Sisterhood"; for the complete article visit "9 Tips to Tame Your Halloween Candy Monster"
  1. Buy Halloween candy you don’t like. You’ll be less likely to eat it.
  2. Buy the bare minimum you think you’ll need for trick-or-treaters. Halloween falls on Sunday this year. Since it’s a school night, you’ll probably have fewer visitors.
  3. Don’t buy the candy until October 31. It’s often on sale then, too. If you must buy it sooner, don’t open the bag until Halloween night.
  4. Count the empty wrappers. If you’re popping fun-size bars in your mouth, you can lose track of how many calories you’ve eaten. If you leave the wrappers out, it will remind you how many you’ve eaten.
  5. Give away the leftovers the day after Halloween. Don’t bring it to work and tempt your co-workers with sweets they don’t need.
  6. Plan a conscious indulgence. If there’s a time of day when you crave sweets, wait until then and savor the moment. I like to suck on a Tootsie Pop while I’m watching television. They last a long time, have chocolate in the middle, and they’re only 60 calories per pop.
  7. Avoid the post-Halloween candy sales. It may seem like a good bargain, but you know you’ll regret it later.
  8. Write down the things that trigger your indulgences. If you skip a meal, for example, you’ll be more likely to crave sweets.
  9. Commit to yourself and a friend. Make a pledge with a friend that this holiday season will be a healthy one and list three reasons why.

Friday, October 1, 2010

October Bullying Prevention Month

In just a couple of weeks, our students in grades 3 through 5 will have spent 4 weeks deepening their understanding of bullying. We are taking time to carefully define bullying; clearly identify the aggressor, target(s), and bystanders in situations; and courageously consider how we can activate the power of the bystanders.

Please take a look at this VoiceThread addressing some of the myths around bullying.

Although not a personal fan of Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network (I am definitely a PBS girl), I am so pleased to see programming in support of October Bullying Prevention Month:

Also check out Stop Bullying Now - a favorite!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Sound and Sensible Advise

Dr. Steven Schlozman discusses kids, homework, and parental guidance - The Boston Globe

Feeling Overwhelmed?

The goal was to update the blog as least once a week; more for my own growth than for anyone else' benefit. The guilt of missing a week was putting me at risk for an ulcer. The good that resulted was a desperate search for some way of climbing out of this immense sense of being overwhelmed - quite normal for educators and parents in September.

Here are some great tips I found from Peter Bregman. For more information - check out his blog entry "A Practical Plan for When You Feel Overwhelmed." Clicking the "publish post" button will cross one thing off my list - Hooray!

  • First, spend a few minutes writing down everything you have to do on a piece of paper. Resist the urge to use technology for this task. Why? I'm not sure, but somehow writing on paper — and then crossing things out — creates momentum.
  • Second, spend 15 minutes — no more — knocking out as many of the easiest, fastest tasks as you can. Make your quick phone calls. Send your short emails. Don't worry about whether these are the most important tasks on your list. You're moving. The goal is to cross off as many items as possible in the shortest time. Use a timer to keep you focused.
  • Third, when 15 minutes are up, turn off your phone, close down all the windows on your computer, and choose the most daunting thing on your list, the one that instills the most stress or is the highest priority. Then work on it and only it — without hesitation or distraction — for 35 minutes.
  • After 35 minutes, take a break for 10 minutes and then start the hour-long process over again, beginning with the 15 minutes of quick actions.
Now . . . where are those shin-guards?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Children of 9/11

I will always remember coming home from the "Water Tower Park" with my toddler, stepping through the threshold and seeing the look in my husband's eyes. We were not yet a cell phone connected family and we had just spent the most serene morning with friends sliding down the big, big slide. The days to follow were life changing for all . . .

But as an elementary school counselor - these are the children who have been on my heart the most through the years. Today, let's send them our collective good wishes by practicing one, two, three or more acts of kindness.

For children of 9/11, answers are slow - The Boston Globe

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Cab Ride

We live very hurried lives in New England. We are efficient and mostly effective. I hope that as the school year opens, we will take some time to do what is important and not always what seems urgent. I got this from a friend. I love the spirit behind the story~ That we need to take the time; but also that the elderly among us are precious!

The Cab Ride

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Please Get Us out of the Bedrooms!

Our children know how to make and post videos using webcams, phones, cameras etc. This is a good skill as many of them will have multi-media resumes. However, they may not make the best decisions all the time. To further complicate things, level of supervision and computer access vary from house to house. So, let's make a pact and keep our computers in public spaces in our homes to allow for appropriate guidance and supervision. Here is an article from Rosalind Wiseman that prompted this reminder . . .

Jessi Slaughter: A Cyberbullying Case None of Us are Taking Seriously

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Have You Filled a Bucket Today?

A class project by Mrs. Skaar's 2nd Grade Class via Lisa Thumann. I think I Care Cat is going to read this book to our students this year~

Friday, August 13, 2010

Building Community is the Key

It's common sense that building community is the key to preventing and combating bullying behaviors. Nevertheless, it is encouraging to be supported by research. Caring School Community - here we go!

There’s Only One Way to Stop a Bully
Published: July 22, 2010

Thursday, August 12, 2010

New Website Makes Education Data Easier to Find and Use | U.S. Department of Education

Since I did not have the morning paper, I played with this instead. We are warned that data element definitions vary across the states; it was still fun looking at the comparative chart for % students who took AP exams.

New Website Makes Education Data Easier to Find and Use | U.S. Department of Education

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Getting the Gadget to Work

Parent: Mmmm I really like the way this website lists where to find her on Twitter, LinkedIn etc. Why can't I get the gadget to work on here?
15 Year Old: Let me see. [highlights info, right clicks on highlighted info] Oh she got it from here. [shows me the site where the gadget comes from] You know, I learned all this playing Neopets when I was little.

Yes she did, yes she did . . .

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Shift in Our Teaching

This is a shift from what we have been teaching. It is true that we want to inoculate young hearts with respect, "the golden rule", and empathy. However, amidst the occurrence of a bullying situation, do consider Rosalind Wiseman's advise in "5 Ways to Prevent and Stop Cyberbullying".

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Stop the Presses

Mitch Resnick makes the comparison between literacy as education understands it and technological literacy. If we define literacy as having the skills to read and write, then our children cannot just consume media, they must also produce and collaborate through the use of technology. As parents, we cannot remain overwhelmed, fearful, or naive. After all, if we lived at the time when the printing press was invented, we would not be afraid to open a book . . . or would we?

Technology is not evil, just as cars are not evil - sign them (and us) up for some tech-ed! Here are some of the resources I collected at this year's Building Learning Conference hosted by November Learning. Check out Dean Shareski's bookmarks on internet safety. Using Delicious is a simple example of collaboration through technology!

Tip: don't forget to keep bookmarks of families and friends' links private; I know that if I shared photos of my children with you, I wouldn't want them shared without my permission.