Sunday, October 25, 2015

Bullying

(photo courtesy of www.uk.gov)

October is Bullying Prevention Month. I've found though my years working at the elementary level that there are many misconceptions about what constitutes bullying. Because the topic has garnered so much attention in recent years, the word "bully" appears to be used more and more as a means of characterising behaviour that, in some instances, is kid-typical and developmentally appropriate. According to the website stopbullying.gov, the definition of bullying is as follows:

 "Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. In order to be considered bullying, the behavior must be aggressive and include: 
  • An Imbalance of Power: Kids who bully use their power—such as physical strength, access to embarrassing information, or popularity—to control or harm others. Power imbalances can change over time and in different situations, even if they involve the same people. 
  • Repetition: Bullying behaviors happen more than once or have the potential to happen more than once. Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose." 
I was fortunate enough to incorporate a lesson on bullying into the fourth grade PYP unit of inquiry, which asked the students to examine various societal issues as they related to art work. I showed them a brief power point slideshow, and then asked one of the classes to complete an activity. Please feel free to view the slideshow that was shown to Mr. Peto and Ms. Mollie's classes! (PDF version available here). The girls particularly liked the videos that depicted what bullying can look like in addition to hearing testimonials from their favourite celebrities from www.bystanderrevolution.org.

In a follow-up lesson, I asked the girls to use some large paper to draw a girl...any girl...and give her a name. Next, they were asked to write as many negative words/comments they could think of on the body of their drawings. Here is what the girls produced:

Negative Words



After the girls had written the negative comments (which included words like "stupid," "ugly," "fat," & "loser"), the papers were crumpled in order to represent what bullying can do to a person's self-esteem and self-worth. They were then instructed to draw an outline again of the same girl. Once they were finished, the class was asked to write positive comments. Note the difference in care girls went to in drawing their "girls."

Positive Words



Though this was only one activity, these fourth graders seemed to better understand the impact of bullying and how it can damage a person's sense of self. Because this is such an important school and societal topic, the conversation about bullying will carry on to ensure that students are able to both prevent its occurrence and in hopes of encouraging bystanders to intervene.


For more information about this topic, please feel free to visit any of the following websites:


~Ms. Carnright

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Getting to Know You

As a new teacher here at Seisen, I experienced typical hesitation/nervousness about what the “settling in” process would be like. How will the students respond to me? Will they accept me as their counsellor and seek me out for advice/guidance? Will their parent’s be supportive? After only a few days, I could answer  each these questions with a resounding YES! I has been truly wonderful getting to know the students, staff and teachers that make up the Seisen community.

Initially, it was important to make introductions and visit each classroom in order to explain my role as a school counsellor. What does a school counsellor do? How should each student contact me when they need to discuss a problem? What are the “rules” surrounding privacy and confidentiality? 

HOW STUDENTS CAN CONTACT ME

THE “RULES” AROUND CONFIDENTIALITY

With grades 2-4,  I was able to use items as metaphors to explain my role. Students were asked to think about how specific items could relate to the school counsellor’s job duties. Here are a few examples that were utilised: ERASER, LOCK, COMPASS, COLD PACK, TISSUES, BANDAID, HEADPHONES and paper HEART.  I was very impressed with their level of understanding and ideas!

Grades 5-6 were given a fun, multiple choice quiz about the role of the school counsellor. I thought it was a great way to gauge their knowledge about my job duties and previous experiences working with the counsellor. I went a bit further with grade 6 and asked them to use sticky notes to answer the following questions:


...and some of their responses were...


                  

I decided to use this exercise to gain a better understanding about what the girls in the elementary school are presently coping with and to elicit some ideas about which kinds of counselling groups I may want to start in the near future. So far, it seems as though stress/anxiety and friendships are primary social-emotional concerns that have been reported by the students. These are also topics that will be addressed through the Primary Years Program (PYP) and via classroom-based lessons.  I am looking forward to working closely with the girls (individually, in small groups & in classrooms) to help them to expand their "toolbox" for how to cope with life's ever-increasing demands.