The first graders typically meet with their 6th grade Book Buddies every week, but we took one such opportunity for the sixth graders to share with their younger counterparts their own difficult experiences growing up: situations that they have found themselves in, strategies they've used, and how things were resolved:
G/L: We were good friends in Kindergarten. We argued over a box of jewels. Both of us liked purple and we had a fight about it. It got to the point where we were saying mean things. We realized that it is not worth fighting over little things.
H: Related a story in which a student called another student “fat.” This child got other people to call the student “fat,” and they all thought it was funny. It’s going to come back to them in some form. Put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Be careful what you do. Some people might take it personally. If it IS a joke, you’ll be able to see it in the person’s face [the person saying“fat”].
T.B.: Related a story re: playing basketball, and the difference between being competitive or being a bully: good vs. bad competition. Are you competitive on the court or competitive everywhere else?
Myles: First grade, when do you get competitive?
T.: When we play [the game] Aggravation.
H: Talked about “persuasive bullies”: In my old school in 3rd grade, there was a popular kid who was always telling people what to do and what not to do. He would say, ‘If you don’t do this or the other, I’ll punch you.’ That’s threatening. Discussed an incident in which this student bullied him about a shirt he was wearing. H. got punched and then had to tell the principal.
There was some discussion about what blackmail is: embarrassing information about someone. All agreed that if that happens, you need to tell someone.
W: A friend came back from winter break and started being mean and began calling me names. I used humor to stand up to him. Show the bully that you aren’t bothered by them. They want a reaction. Humor worked, and he stormed off.
D: Be careful, though. You might make them angry and they’ll hit you.
W: You need to pick the right time to stand up for yourself.
L.A.: What if they’re blocking you?
W: You can always scream and shout.
A: I had a friend who used to tell me, "Don’t tell on me, I’m your friend." If they’re doing bad things, you need to tell someone.
H: If you get bullied, don’t take it personally. Try your best not to cry. The bully wants to see you in a miserable condition. Show the bully that he doesn’t have the right to do that to you. Remember what you think about yourself. Keep your opinion of yourself straight.
S: Most of the time, when people are being bullies, they’re not sure of themselves. They feel a pain or discomfort, but don’t let them put that on you.
T: The bully might feel shy and upset and wants everyone to feel the same way. But sometimes you do feel that if they do it to you, you should do it back. It’s fair.
H: If you feel that way, take something that doesn’t matter, like an eraser, and throw it.
M: Write your feelings down to get the anger out of you. It allows you to figure out what’s going wrong.
S: Use kindness so that you don’t add to this bad situation.
B: Just be kind. Another way to react is just to ignore the person. I was an outcast in my old school. They used to call me names. Some people are mean without even realizing it.
E.: What if they use contact on you? [6th graders agreed it would be important to tell someone]
Along with these stories, the sixth graders offered up these strategies
that they'd used successfully in handling difficult situations:
· Talk to the person first
· Tell them how you feel
· Use humor and kindness
· Ignore bad behavior if you can and just walk away
· Write about it
· Exercise (to get rid of anger)
· Tell a friend or a teacher
· Remember that not everyone is a bully - it can be hard to control impulses
A so-called bully just might be someone who:
· has strong feelings that haven't been dealt with
· might not know how to handle difficult situations/feelings
· might not know how to control impulses
· uses physical means to control their environment and to make him- or herself noticed or heard
· is not communicating well
· is out of connection
· is not aware of how actions have consequences or how they affect others
Today in class, the first graders reviewed the difference between someone who is truly a bully and someone who just makes bad choices every now and then. They worked together to come up with a new term or a new way to address these other, non-bullying situations:
What is the difference between a bully and someone who is making a bad choice?
N: Bully means hurting constantly or being mean constantly.
What’s another word for someone who makes a bad choice once in a while?
O.P: A tattle-taler.
S.: A trouble starter.
N.: A party pooper.
Remember the person who is making the bad choice is also hurting. What’s a word that would make the person who is making a bad choice feel better?
D.B.: A mischief maker.
Is there a non-judgemental word that we can use for reporting?Maybe a code?Cat Henney talked about using codes when she came in to talk to us about creating body movement patterns.You needed to remember the right pattern for the code to be let into the “Secret Spy Club.”We have codes here at the school to let us know when the school is in danger – we have one code when there’s a storm, another code when there is a dangerous situation on campus…maybe we could think of a code to let teachers know exactly what kind of difficult situation you might find yourself in.
N.: Code Rainbow, for when someone is being mean to you.
E.: Code Yellow means someone is dis-including someone.
D.B.: I don’t think Code Rainbow [would work] because it’s cheery and happy.Maybe Code Gray.
L.: Code Blue, because when you’re feeling sad, you’re blue.
I.: Code Mix. Their feelings are mixed.
O.: They’re being bad and good at the same time.
K.: Code Red, when’s someone’s hurt.
Should we pick one of these to start trying?
D.: I know why gray should be it, because gray is like humiliation.
While this conversation generated a lot of silliness, at close, the children began to think more about how different colors convey different emotions, while as the teacher, I could see that using a color code that was closely linked to a corresponding emotion could be a helpful tool to allow teachers to address whatever situation arose in a more strategic and direct manner. Code Red? A teacher would know that there was a physical alteration and/or injury. Code Blue? You would be able to quickly surmise that there was a situation in which a child’s feelings were hurt and could help mediate the issue accordingly.
We will try testing these two new codes out and see if the overuse of “bully” as a term will subside as we try to move beyond being too quick to judge.