HOW TO AVOID BULLIES
If children do not understand how to recognize bullying behavior, how can they stop it? Here is a quick lesson you can use to help your students avoid bullies.
Materials: Graphic of web worksheet for each child. Chart paper, white board or electronic whiteboard.
- Create a web on chart paper, white board or electronic whiteboard with “HOW TO AVOID BULLIES” in the center and the outer circles empty.
- Ask the students to come up with ways characters in film or literature were able to defeat/avoid bullies peacefully. Write ideas in two bubbles.
- Instruct students to share more ideas with partners or in small groups. They should agree that all ideas are peaceful, win-win, solutions.
- Once partners or groups agree that solutions are non-violent they fill in the rest of the bubbles.
- After a few minutes share the responses. Groups present their webs to the class while the teacher leads the class in a discussion of which ones were the most appropriate. For example, if one group wrote, “Tell the bully she’s ugly,” the class could then debate about whether that would be a good choice.
- As an extension, students could sketch a cartoon, poster, or painting of positive ways to avoid bullies.
I know, we teachers are busy. We barely have enough time to teach the required standards much less add anti-bullying lessons to boot. So here’s a lesson that incorporates both writing standards and peace education. Here the learner will become familiar with the format for a friendly letter while empowering him/herself to confront an imaginary bully. Materials: Lined paper, pencils, chart paper, white board or electronic whiteboard. Sample of a friendly letter. Procedure:
- Go over the parts of a friend letter:
Friendly Letter Format
heading: Contains if mailed. Just date if not first line – street number and street name second line – town or city, state and ZIP code third line – the date greeting or salutation: Dear So-and-so, (remember your comma!) introduction: Here there might be questions about how the recipient is, etc. body: This is the main part of the letter. It gets to the point of why you’re writing. Change paragraphs and indent each time you change the topic you’re talking about. This is the longest part of the letter. conclusion: Wrap it all up. Be clever. closing: Choose an appropriate closing like “Sincerely, Yours truly, Your friend.” Make sure this lines up with the heading. Only the first word is capitalized. signature: Usually in cursive. Goes directly under the closing.
- Ask students to give examples of a time they were bullied in the past. List on the board.
- Ask students what they would want the bully to know, if he/she could talk to them today. Make sure that all responses avoid name calling, revenge, retaliation, or violence. The goal here is to ask for empathy from the bully.
- Explain that they will be writing a letter to a bully of the past. If they cannot think of a prior situation they may invent one.
- Model how to write the letter on board.
- Students write their own letters.
Evaluation: Were the students able to follow the proper format for a friendly letter and share feelings in assertive yet nonviolent ways? Follow up: This could be considered a rough draft and the students could revise for figurative language use, more in depth detail, or any off-topic sentences. They could also edit for mechanics. Let me know how it goes!
As I read over articles about key thinkers who advocated peace in the classroom I immediately began to examine my own practices. When was I modeling peace for my students? How could I go further? Where could I implement new strategies that kept a balance between learning, calm, and honoring the child? I still am processing all of these ideas but have found inspiration in Dewey, Freire, and Montessori.
Montessori advocated a learning environment that followed the interests of the child. In Montessori classrooms children are given choices to develop their intellect, moral sense, and fine motor skills. As a former Montessori teacher, I found that facilitating good choices is a healthy way to help children learn to self-correct behaviors. Not only is it peaceful, but it is empowering for the child. I use Montessori language in a traditional setting to help children make positive choices with phrases such as, “You may walk,” or “I’d like to remind you all to use gentle voices.”
To take this further I created a zone for peace. It contains a bulletin board with a small display beneath. At the top of the bulletin board is a poster of Dean Bernal swimming with JoJo the dolphin. In the center are three posters. One says, “What do friends do?” The second says, “What do bullies do?” The third, and most important asks, “What have I done to resolve conflicts peacefully today?” Below these posters is a small table with the Peace Cards I designed and discipline cards. Peace cards are index cards where children write and draw positive choices for conflicts. After creating the card the child has the choice of keeping it as a reminder of good choices, adding it to the class box, or sharing it with the child he/she has had a problem with.
My discipline cards also have a positive component. During the first week of school, my students write their names on the back of a 5″ by 7″ cards with drawings of those things that bring them joy. That way, whenever a child needs redirection he/she is reminded of those parts of him/her that are unique. If a child does need disciplining they fill in three columns on the opposite side: date, problem, and what to do positively next time.
I have found having Peace Cards next to discipline cards creates a place for children to feel calm. It is here that they know they are safe, respected for their individuality, and empowered to make good choices.