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September 2011 Archives
September 29 - Liz
Post Date:September 29, 2011 | PermaLink
I heard an interesting story on the radio last week about an author who wrote a book along with 70 other authors called Dear Bully – 70 Authors tell their stories-(By Megan Kelley Hall and Carrie Jones). The book is a compilation of letters written to those people who bullied the authors or to the people that the authors themselves bullied. I was very interested, and ironically the next day our school librarian was telling me all about this great book that she just got “Dear Bully”.
Though I haven’t had time since hearing about the book to read the whole thing, I skimmed through and read several of the letters. It was so interesting to hear how “grown-up” people still have such vivid memories of their experience of being bullied. The more interesting part is to see what they have done with those experiences. For some it made them stronger, more creative, and in the end taught them how to be confident without paying attention to negative criticism. Yet for others the memories still made them cry. It was hard to let go and they had problems trusting people. It was very clear to me that the affect of bullying is lifelong.
It made me wonder, what if I took the time write a letter to the people that were mean to me? In 8th grade I was not popular. My mother dressed my like a middle aged woman (I was the oldest, she didn’t know any better), I was taller than every boy in my class, I was clumsy, un-athletic, and a goodie two shoes. I was a good target for jokes. I was never bullied to the point many in the book experienced. I never considered transferring schools, and I was never physically abused. However, I was often excluded, and few memorable times, words or actions did hurt me. Would writing a letter be a healing experience for me? I think that it would be.
On the other hand, what about the times that I remember being mean? I am certainly not perfect, and there is one girl in particular that I wish I could apologize to. If I ever ran into her I would certainly say that I am sorry. Thinking of my actions towards her caused me to consider where my own insecurity came from. Despite my own pain, to know that I hurt another is awful. It is harder for me to heal the guilt that I feel for being mean than it is to heal the wounds of being bullied myself. Getting my words onto paper and outside of my mind is a healing experience.
If you’re a “grown-up” who was bullied or was a bully, perhaps you could take the time to write a letter to someone you hurt or that hurt you. Perhaps you know a young person being bullied that would benefit from reading your letter. It can be a powerful thing to know that someone has felt the same way you do, has experienced the same things you have, and has made it through.
How powerful it can be to take our times of struggle and weakness to help others through in their moment of need. I think “Dear Bully” is a great idea and hope that it inspires others to be honest and open about their experiences of bullying.
September 29 - Heather
Post Date:September 29, 2011 | PermaLink
I love my long training runs, especially on the cool, crisp mornings in the fall. During this hour or two I am able to set aside all the roles I play, daughter, friend, sister, wife, mother, teacher, writer, student, and colleague, to clear my head and focus solely on me. Thoughts are free to meander into my mind without interruptions, and during this time I can plan, wonder, dream, and work out any troubles life has thrown me. Every step I take reminds me how alive I truly am and how grateful I am to be me. It wasn’t until these past couple of years that I realized the power of running and the impact it plays on keeping me both physically and mentally healthy.
Volunteering as a “Girls on the Run St. Louis” coach has allowed me an opportunity to share my passion for running with third and fourth grade girls at my school I teach. Girls on the Run (GOTR) is an experiential learning program for 8 to 12 year old girls that combine training for a 5K running event with life-changing, self-esteem enhancing, uplifting warm-ups and workouts that encourage emotional, social, mental, and physical development (curriculum guide). Now into my third season of this ten week program, I, along with other volunteers, utilize running as a vehicle for learning activities focused around individual topics in three distinct areas: self, teamwork, and community.
A very powerful lesson I taught last week helped girls distinguish between comfortable and uncomfortable emotions. Emphasis was placed on relaying that those uncomfortable emotions such as anger, sorrow, and frustration are not bad or unhealthy and can be dealt with and expressed in healthy ways. We explained how important it is for the girls to talk with someone when they are upset and that these uncomfortable emotions are not bad at all. What matters is that the girls do not hurt on the inside or hurt others by not expressing or handling these emotions well.
After lessons of talking and learning about the basics of cooperation (being a good listener by not interrupting and really working to hear and understand what friends are saying) girls learn how to recognize bullying behaviors and what to do if bullied or if witnessing bullying. Girls don’t realize that the bullying we see in movies, cartoons, or t.v. shows where an older kid is pushing a younger kid around is not the only type of bullying happening every day in our schools. Girls are surprised to discover that name calling, teasing, putting others down, and spreading rumors are examples of emotional bullying. It’s this kind of bullying that can be more hurtful than the physical type. We teach them ways to stay calm, to tell the bully they do not like what is going on, and to tell a trusted adult. We give them suggestions for helping someone who is being bullied and remind them they never want to be bullies themselves.
Before working on our service project, we discuss the importance of communities and ways that we can impact them. This program is not complete without a lesson helping the girls become more aware of the negative ways the media may portray girls. We help them begin to develop the critical thinking skills needed to push aside the negative messages to become kind, strong, healthy, and educated young ladies. Last season our girls received the second place award for their project called “Caring for a Cause” Candy Grams. The girls on the team decided to help a family from their school that was in need. They sent a letter home to all school parents to let them know what the GOTR team had planned for their community service project. For $.25 any student, parent or faculty member could send a “Candy Gram” to anyone in the school. The coaches donated a lollipop to every student in the school because the girls didn’t want anyone to feel left out if he/she didn’t receive one on the day of the event. The girls gave up their recesses to cut, tape, and sort the candy grams before delivering them to each classroom. They collected $191.00 for the family they were helping. At a GOTR practice the girls made a card that said “We Care About You” and included the money. The family was very touched and thankful! We were so proud of how the girls used their talents to make a difference!
Because I truly believe the GOTR program significantly impacts many young girls, and I value the power of running, I recently joined the SoleMates team, the charity running leg of Girls on the Run. While pursuing my own goal of running in the ING New York Marathon this upcoming November, I am raising money to ensure a girl a lifetime of self-respect and healthy living. And as I continue my long training runs in preparation for this race, I can’t help but smile knowing that the many roles I play are what keep me focused, alive, strong, and healthy, ready for anything that comes in my way!
September 6th, 2011 - Kay
Post Date:September 06, 2011 | PermaLink
Blame. Blame is an addiction that the vast majority of our society is addicted to. When something goes wrong, no matter the significance, we want to blame. Bullying. Bullying is an epidemic. That might sound extreme, but answer me this, in what place is bullying not an issue at some level. If you have an answer to that question, you are either not being realistic or I want to move to your community asap!
So, whose fault is bullying? Is it the bully? I think it is fair to say that they have to factor in the equation at some point, they are the one committing the action. But why is the bully a bully? I am not a geneticist, with the exception of some extreme anger management disorders, I don't think we can make the claim on a wide scale that bullies are born bullies. So then it must be the parents. The child was born angelic and at some point something went wrong. The trick is that "something" can be any number of things. In my 43 years as an educator, I have seen young people of all backgrounds turn to bullying. Some children have every material they could hope to want, but lack the attention at home and act out to gain that attention. Others have loving parents but lack the material needs and act out due to anger, "why don't I have that? I deserve it". Physical abuse, learning disorders, behavioral disorders, you name it, it can be the "something". So let's blame the schools. Any why not? I mean these are trained men and women who should be able to deal with this, right? With an hour a day they should be able to mold the entire lives of thirty young people, right? This is why we have school, right?
My answer, everyone needs to stop with blame and work together to address bullying. To those who bully, I know that you are likely not doing this as a recreational hobby, I am sure you are lashing out due to some form of hurt. I challenge you every time you look to bully, to read the story of Megan Meier, as a reminder of how deeply your words can hurt and how far the consequences range. To the parents, I realize that more are the challenges and higher are the climbs today. You each face unique and legitimate challenges in raising your children. I challenge you not to be so quick to dismiss your children’s behavior as "just the way they are" or assuming the bullying is a response to someone else, "someone else must have started it". I further challenge you to set the example and not bully amongst other adults. One saying that I think is totally accurate is that children, no matter what the age will duplicate observed behaviors. Don't give your children bullying as a duplicatable behavior. And, for the love of God, your children should NEVER see you bully one of their peers. One Lori Drew is quite enough. Lastly, to my brother and sister educators, resources and growing less, classrooms are bursting at the seams, the obstacles are everywhere. My challenge to you is don't forget your role as a role model. Your voice is heard loud and clear in the vast majority of your students, even if their actions do not support it. Don't give up on these kids, don't just allow bullying to become a standard within your school, you have a voice.
In summary, we are all responsible. Accept your role. Join this wonderful movement to bring simple peace to our schools and communities. Make a difference today!