For some reason, I don’t care too much for the terms bully, anti-bully, or bully awareness. While the behaviors associated with these terms are serious and demand our attention, the word bully and its associated terms have become cliché, commodified, and often minimized in social contexts, especially among youth.
Even so, focusing on school climate and positive interactions is a priority for our school community. We recently held a Bullying Awareness Week within the district, during which, I shared with our teachers the following list of activities that they could utilize to promote positive peer interactions.
NEWSPAPER REPORTS OF KINDNESS: Scan local newspapers and find reports of kindness. Cut out articles and create a collage on poster board. [The media center can provide newspapers and magazines for this activity].
DEFINING KINDNESS: Project the word kindness on the board. Ask students to write for 10 minutes about kindness. After 10 minutes of nonstop writing, ask for volunteers to read their ideas of kindness. As different students share their ideas of kindness, write descriptions of kindness on the overhead projector or on the board. Students should participate by creating kindness diagrams of their own.
Consider this extension activity. Cut and paste all the descriptive text collected during the activity into Wordle [www.wordle.net] to create a word cloud. Based on the word cloud, ask students to reflect on the words that best describe kindness at WHS? Is this an accurate description of our community? Do all students see our community this way? If not, why?
SHOWING EXCEPTIONAL KINDNESS: Students draw numbers as they enter the classroom to determine order of presentations. Students should be given 2-3 minutes to present reports on people in their lives who have shown exceptional kindness. After all presentations have been given, ask students to write what kindness means to them. Take student definitions and type on large index cards and display cards around the room or on a kindness bulletin board. Source: http://www.randomactsofkindness.org/.
CONSIDER THE IMPACT ON YOUR HEALTH: It has been shown that doing “for others” can benefit the volunteer as much as the recipient. Read the following quotes to understand how this could happen. Then, answer the question at the end. Source: http://www.randomactsofkindness.org/.
From High School Student #1
I got involved after I was required by the court to do community service. Funny thing is, I was good at it. In fact, my supervisor asked me to stay on and start a program to get other youth involved. They gave me a desk, a phone, and a small budget. I started a phone bank where neighbors could call in to get some help with chores they were unable to do themselves. Most of the requests came from elderly people and single parents. I believe that youth can make a difference if we work together. In the end, I realized that I am not a bad person, and I am capable of incredible things if I take advantage of the freedom within myself. By giving away my time and myself, I got back a whole lot.
From High School Student #2
Whenever my buddy (a child at the family shelter) knows that I am coming to see her, she waits at a certain corner. As soon as she sees me, she runs to me and gives me a huge hug. I can relate to the relationship I have with my buddy because I had no brothers or sisters, and when I was young my father traveled 70% of the year. I would have really valued a relationship similar to the one my buddy and I have. My buddy is not the only one benefiting from this program. I also feel needed and appreciated.
In 1 or 2 paragraphs, tell why you agree or disagree about the following statement: Performing Random Acts of Kindness or volunteerism may make me feel better or help me to live longer and happier.
5th Period –THINKING BIG: Pick a quote which best describes your feeling about doing a Random Act of Kindness. Then tell why you picked it. Explain what it means to you. Source: http://www.randomactsofkindness.org/.
- We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. -Winston Churchill
- I am certain that after the dust of centuries has passed over our cities, we, too, will be remembered not for victories or defeats in battle or in politics but for our contributions to the human spirit. -John Kennedy
- Our culture is at a critical cusp-a time that requires that we define what it means to be a citizen in a democracy. Within our nation we need to foster a greater sense of collective responsibility. -Robert Bellah (author)
- For whatever befalls the Earth, befalls the sons and daughters of the Earth…Man did not weave the web of life; he is merely a strand of it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself. -Chief Seattle
- Everyone can be great, because everyone can serve -Martin Luther King
6th– Period – JUST WANTED TO SAY…:Read the following passage. “We’ve all been in situations where we have been the giver or receiver of unkind words. We may have even been in a situation where we have done something unkind or had something unkind done to us. Many times we don’t realize how something we say or do makes others feel. Other times we may do things intentionally out of anger or frustration. Often we don’t get the opportunity to take these words or actions back.”
Ask students to write a reflection on a time when they may have said or done something, either intentional or unintentional, that may have negatively affected another student or adult in their community. They could have been directly involved or it could have been a situation where they were a bystander and saw another person get hurt, but didn’t do anything. Ask them to write about how they felt then and how they feel now about the situation. What has changed? How they might act differently, if given the opportunity? What would they say to that person now, if they had the opportunity? Ask students not to name the person or themselves. Source: Jacey C., SADD Member.
WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU HAD $50,000: Ask students to write an essay on the following. “You have just received a grant for $50,000 to create a program to improve the climate at Westmont High School. What program would you develop? How would your program impact the school community? How would you evaluate the success of this program?”