by Shaun Knittel -
SGN Associate Editor
GLSEN's No Name-Calling Week is scheduled for January 19-23. This year, according to GLSEN, schools in our community are increasing their efforts to prevent bullying and name-calling by including resources and tools designed to promote kindness in the classroom.
A hashtag has been set up for social media: #NNCW15.
'We believe in celebrating kindness while working to create safe schools free of name-calling, bullying and bias,' GLSEN officials say on the advocacy group's website www.glsen.org. 'Motivated by this simple, yet powerful, idea - and supported by over 60 national partner organizations - No Name-Calling Week is celebrated each year in schools across the nation.'
In short, GLSEN wants to help you put a spotlight on name-calling and bullying in your school if you are a student, educator, or GSA chapter.
According to GLSEN, because most bullying happens outside of classrooms, No Name Calling Week is most effective as a school wide project.
Though classroom activities are at the heart of the program, making your entire school instead of an individual classroom a name calling free zone will strengthen the program message and dramatically increase the safety and well-being of students,' say officials. 'A school wide No Name-Calling Week means school wide involvement from students, administrators, teachers, family members and staff. The next few pages will take you step by step through the process of engaging and involving your entire school community in planning a fun and effective No Name-Calling Week at your school.'
If you are a teacher or guidance counselor, you will probably need support from your school's administration and/or another leadership body in order to move forward with a school wide No Name-Calling Week.
'School leaders will likely want to support a program aimed at improving school health and safety for all students,' says GLSEN. 'Still, they might have some concerns about whether the program will detract from required curriculum, how much work it will require from faculty and staff, and whether an anti-bullying program is even necessary at your school.'
GLSEN recommends that before meeting with your school principal or other leaders, you should give some thought to your vision of No Name-Calling Week at your school. What exactly will take place?
Below is a brief list of ideas for your school's week, all of which are elaborated on within the pages of a free online guide GLSEN offers to people that sign up for NNCW 15.
" Class lessons and activities about
" Name-calling and bullying
" Essay and poster contest
" School newspaper article
" School assembly
" Library display
" Peer education program (students educate and support younger children)
" Discussion/support group (guidance staff lead small groups of students in an exploration of feelings and ideas about verbal bullying)
" Support staff training (cafeteria, security, transportation, and recreation staff is trained in bullying intervention)
" Family event (a speaker or panelists inform family members about the effects of bullying and ways to cope with and end it)
GLSEN advises that when you approach your school administration and colleagues for support, your request should demonstrate a need for No Name-Calling Week, while showing that it will promote school goals rather than detract from them. Follow these steps in order to encourage a productive discussion and garner enthusiastic support for a No Name-Calling Week in your school.
GLSEN says you should gather data. 'Use the statistics listed in the introduction, or consult some of the complete studies to get additional facts about the epidemic of name-calling and other forms of bullying, and their effects on young people. School guidance staff may have additional literature to share. Presenting data from reliable sources demonstrates how verbal bullying is a concern for students, educators, and parents everywhere,' say officials.
GLSEN also says to gather anecdotal evidence. 'You have probably witnessed verbal bullying among students in your school, or may have heard about incidents of name-calling from teachers, parents, staff, or students. Record these stories (keeping individual identities anonymous) and share them when you seek support, as they demonstrate a need for anti-bullying education in your particular school,' advises GLSEN.
It is important, say officials, to anticipate concerns because there are a few key reservations that may come up during your conversations with administrators and colleagues. GLSEN says that being prepared with statistical and anecdotal information will go a long way towards assuaging doubts about the necessity of education on this issue.
Consider these common concerns and possible responses to them:
School is for academics.
" School is undoubtedly the place for academics, but those who experience bullying or live in fear of being the next target are frequently distracted from their academic work. There is a strong correlation between bullying and poor academic achievement for both the targets of bullying and the bullies themselves. Share the statistics that demonstrate this with your colleagues, and emphasize that a program that discourages bullying may result in improved achievement among students. In addition, encourage colleagues to peruse the No Name-Calling Week curriculum, which is heavily grounded in reading, writing, and critical thinking experiences that can be integrated into a variety of subject areas.
There's no time for a No Name-Calling Week.
" Again, refer to your statistics. Bullying results in high absenteeism among those who experience it and reducing incidents of name-calling in school means more instructional hours for those students. In addition, time spent in the short term increasing empathy and effective ally behavior among students will save every one time in the long run as disciplinary problems, fights, guidance interventions, classroom management issues, and other problems diminish. No Name-Calling Week is a great first step in opening a dialogue that can eventually change a school's climate, and taking that first step now can save valuable time later.
We don't have a name-calling problem in our school.
" Collect and share specific anecdotal information with administrators and colleagues to demonstrate the reality at your school (see Student Survey: Name-Calling and Verbal Bullying). Remind them that most bullying occurs outside the classroom and away from the watchful eyes of adults. It happens in the hallways, the cafeteria, the schoolyard, the locker room, and on the bus. Often, this bullying goes unreported because of fear, embarrassment, or pressure not to 'tattle.' Though many teachers and staff members are able to effectively stop bullying in the classroom, they have little control over what happens when the bell rings. Meanwhile, students suffer the effects of being bullied, including lowered academic performance, heightened absenteeism, and emotional problems.
Know the bottom line.
" Be prepared to brief your administration and colleagues on the anticipated costs of the program, both in dollars and labor. If there will be significant costs, suggest fundraising or donor possibilities.
GLSEN is asking everyone to celebrate kindness through lessons and activities. They have plans for elementary, middle, or high schools.
GLSEN has even gone so far as to advise students on how to be kind throughout the year and have a lasting impact.
'If you only have a minute, catch someone being kind. See a friend being kind? Take a pic and tag it with hashtag #CaughtBeingKind. Your pic might end up on GLSEN's Instagram, @GLSEN_official,' say officials. 'Do a random act of kindness. If you have your phone on you, take a pic, and share it using the hashtag #CelebrateKindness and/or #NNCW15.'
Anyone interested in signing up for NNCW 15 can do so here:
http://action.glsen.org/page/s/no-name-calling-week-registration. Registering for No Name-Calling Week ensures that you receive all the newest information and allows GLSEN to keep an accurate count of how many participants there are each year. Questions about registering for No Name-Calling Week? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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