Don’t you just love it when things work out the way you want them to? When that happens I think just like Emeril and want to say “BAM!” So, here is how it all came down....
I have had to deal with a number of “meanness” complaints” this week from one of my grade levels. Of course it is kids who are “old enough to know better”. Fortunately, I had a girl who was tired of the mean behavior and wanted something done about it. I visited with her to find out that a group of kids in her class (the boys) were saying mean things about other kids, mainly about their size or what they looked like. My first reaction was that I am beating my head against the wall with what I teach and they don't get it but then I thought, “No, someone just came in to tell me this wasn’t right!” YESSS!!!! So I rallied the troops and had the 6 girls from that class come in. Guess what? They were all sick of it! YIPPEEE!!!! Well, we talked about our options:
1) tell the teacher and principal and have him deal with them
2) learn how to stand up to them
I was glad to hear that THEY wanted to handle it. We talked about the fact that it isn’t easy to stand up to kids when they are being mean. They said they might be made fun of or that they will become a target also. I told them that could in fact happen. I told them we need to put “Operation Stand UP!” in place. We role played different situations they have been having and practiced having one person say something like, “Hey, that was mean.” and having others back them up. They decided they needed to have a code language if it was happening in class when a teacher wasn’t within earshot and someone said something mean and they needed “back up”. They decided to if they needed back up they would say “OSU” and another girl would know that they needed to go and stand up for the person who was being targeted. Well, today was Day 3 of Operation Stand UP! Our guidance lesson was a continuation of last week and we were talking about making fun of others using Michael Pritchard’s Stepping on Up to Character. During our discussion some interesting things came up. First one, what if you are around some kids and someone says something mean about another person who isn’t standing there? The first reaction was to go tell that person. My question was “How would that help?” It took awhile and some prodding to get them to realize that telling the person they were talking about what they had said would only make her/him feel bad too. I was finally able to guide them into knowing that stopping the talk by saying something like, “Hey, that wasn’t very nice” and having another person agree with that would help more. I also suggested that when kids respond with “Well I was just kidding!” to let them know that it isn’t funny.
Next down the hall to another classroom---same lesson. In this class I had the teachable moment occur during our discussion when the teacher walked out of the room. I said in a kind of “whispery” voice, “Hey, have you guys noticed Mrs. Runia’s new haircut?” They all nodded. Then I proceeded with “Don’t you think she got it cut too short?” One girl said, “Well I like her color” and I continued with “Oh, that isn’t so bad but the style is way too short for her. It doesn’t really work for her kind of hair don’t you think?” One of the kids said, “Hey, I think she is in here.” I said, “No, she just walked out so it’s okay for us to talk about her. But don’t you think it is too short?” All of a sudden on boy said, “Mrs. K, that is mean what you just said.” Immediately I asked him, “What did you just do?” He just sat there with a red face and was thinking he was in trouble so I said “Did you see what he just did? He stood up for Mrs. Runia!” Then I asked him how he felt before he told me it was mean. He responded with, “I was mad you were saying it and I was kind of nervous to say something to you.” I told the class that was exactly how a person feels when they stand up for someone, mad and nervous or scared. I really praised him for his courage and that it was it takes to stand up to someone: COURAGE! When I asked the other kids what they thought when I was talking “about Mrs. Runia” they responded with:
* ”I couldn’t believe you were saying something so mean.”
* “I didn’t think you would do something like that.”
* “I didn’t like what you were saying.”
After lunch recess my “Operation Stand UP” girls came in. They said it is still happening but they are figuring out ways to stand up and back each other up. They want to make t-shirts and start teaching others about their cause. WOW!!!! We may start a whole new movement here! Way to go girls! Way to go Carter for standing up to an adult when she was saying mean things about your teacher. Let’s just keep this whole thing moving!!!!!