"In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends." Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The San Mateo County Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Day is special for us. Last year ASK Academy helped organize the event and also volunteered setting up at the San Mateo CalTrain Station. This year for the 14th annual celebration we are happy that Susan Robboy, a teacher at Thomas R. Pollicita Middle School in Daly City, is honored as a "Teacher Of The Year." Ms. Robboy, nominated by a student, teaches Peer Mediation and, according to fellow teachers and staff, really deserves the award. At the January 23rd Governing Board Meeting of the Jefferson Elementary School District, Melinda Dart, President of the American Federation Of Teachers Local 3267, announced the special recognition of Ms. Robboy who will be honored in person at the next Governing Board Meeting in February. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. taught everyone how to be allies instead of bystanders, which is the main goal of our Stop Bullying System.
"In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends." Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Respect 24/7 in San Mateo County.
National Anti-Bullying Month is something that has been established in the last couple of years. We're definitely a big part of it. Out here in San Mateo County we even have the Respect 24/7 Campaign during the month of October as well. Respect 24/7 really comes off the heels of a lot of the work we've done at Ingrid B. Lacy Middle School where we've implemented the "Respect For All Campaign." We have plenty of programs and activities throughout the year. It all starts with our biggest event which is our Respect For All Assembly which is done for the 6th , 7th and 8th graders separately in the auditorium.
Not just during October, but all year long we at ASK Academy and the Stop Bullying System are constantly helping organizations and schools find ways to sustain positive behavior. Let's elaborate a bit on some of the feedback we get from Parents, Teachers, and Students. We have our BLOG post 20 reasons why people love the Stop Bullying System I'm going to talk about the first three.
1. All the internet computer stuff; all the parts of texting and the internet are useful.
2. I like the 20 Effective Ways for Behavior Change.
3. It’s great that people get to talk to each other.
Those are the first three. I'm going to talk about each one individually:
Number one: "All the internet computer stuff; all the parts of texting and the internet are useful."
So what are they talking about when they say Internet and computer stuff? Well we all know that bullying has been going on for a long time. Bullying is nothing new, however in modern times with the use of digital technology computers, smartphones, cellphones, and video cameras, bullying takes on a different look now. It goes fast, it spreads fast, and it goes far. So we always want to be aware of better ways to use technology. I'm a person who really loves technology, I shouldn't say love, I really like technology I just don't like some of the things that people do with it. That's why in the stop bullying system we actually focus on cyber safety. That's a big part of our program and the way that we address it, we just say internet, computers and smartphones. Some of the things that we address and help adults and youth deal with are: How to respond if you're being bullied online. How to intervene if you witness cyber bullying. How to avoid predators and how to avoid scams. We also talk about how adults can help young people set limits for computer use and learn how to use computers and other devices responsibly.
This is a great quest we have, to let people know that we're not against technology. I actually like having technology in the classroom. It's advantageous if the students are able utilize their smartphones whether it be to research something or use it as a calculator. As long as it's done in a structured manner, everyone is on the same page, and people aren't trying to use their phones to call people, text message and those types of things.
Moving on to number two: "I like the 20 effective ways for Behavior Change"
This is a result of all the work that we've done with adults and youth and looking at the fact that young people have a lot of ideas, they have their own thoughts and their own minds however they still need us for guidance. That's why at ASK Academy we focus on mentoring as one of our most effective ways of working with youth. After all of our talks with parents, structure is one issue that comes up. They want to see their children's behavior change however there's no real systemic way and no accountability and no way to measure the actual change. So what we've done is come up with a way for young people and their parents or mentors to get on the same page about behavior change.
We encourage the parents to think about all the behaviors that they want to see their young people change then actually list those things. We have them not just list the things that they don't want them to do but go ahead and list the alternatives to those behaviors; some type of change that they want to see. Then to go over the list with the young people and have them give feedback and input into the list, add things of their own or negotiate if there's something they want to see taken off or adjusted in some type of way. After this process is done then the young people need to sign this list and these interventions that will be put in place. We have our own 20 ways but we like to encourage people to develop their own unique lists.
The third reason why people love our system is: "It's great that people get to talk to each other."
So many times adults, parents, and guardians are dealing with issues. Their youth are dealing with issues and they think they're the only ones. That's why It's good to have seminars where parents and educators can come together and hear that they're not the only ones dealing with defiance, they're not the only ones dealing with maybe a disconnect, or mis-communication, or no communication with their youth. They can hear perspectives from other parents about strictness or flexibility. They can hear from other adults who may share their style and actually place limits, talk with young people, get them to think about some of the decisions and choices that they are making, and hopefully make better choices. This is hard to do if you're constantly dealing with your child or dealing with a students in a vacuum and you're not able to bounce ideas off of other caring adults.
Preventing Bullying will take the efforts of all youth and caring adults. Remember that we are getting people to identify Bullying, Before you identify you should be preventing it in the first place and if it's happening you should intervene.
Categories: National Anti-Bullying Month, Respect 24/7, Internet Safety, Positive Behavior, Parents
Adventures in Bullying Advice: 2 Recent Case Studies
Gossip among friends.
Thursday I taught 6th grade Math and Science and before going out to her lunch break, a student asked me could she talk to me about something related to bullying.
She told me that one of her friends told her that another girl whom she thought was her friend, really was not. The student then told me that she gave out special pencils to a bunch of her classmates but did not give one to either of the girls previously mentioned because she didn't know what to do.
What advice would you give her?
I told her she can talk directly to the girl that she thinks may not be her friend and just simply find out if everything is alright between them. I also asked her how she would feel if she gave them pencils even though they may not have been very nice to her recently. We also talked about how it's alright to not be good friends with everyone in her class but that they should be respectful to one another. I also let her know that she does not have to give pencils to anyone, that is her choice.
These are the types of every day issues that are perfect for Peer Mediation. Although it may seem like a minor problem, these small problems frequently snowball into bigger problems involving more and more people.
At the end of the school day I referred the student to the school counselor and she is following up on the situation.
Per my usual routine when teaching a new class, I introduced myself and talked briefly to the class about my Peace Building work with the Stop Bullying System. I showed them our Infographic, Twitter Once I started going over the subject matter for Math and Science, one of the girls says " I know this is off topic but, since you help stop bullying what do you think about what happened at Sandy Hook?. It feels good to go back to stopbullyingsystem.com and show them our blog from the day before: "Shakeel Ali Statement on Sandy Hook Tragedy in Connecticut." I read it to them and told them that I am positive that Pacifica Schools and all other school districts are diligently working on their school safety plans with the appropriate authorities. In the blog we talk about how everyone deserves to feel safe at school and at work. You can read the Sandy Hook blog post here: goo.gl/CByRP
On Friday December 14th 2012 I was attending the newest Graduating Class of San Francisco Firefighters when the news came about the tragic event in Newtown Connecticut. I like most of you was terribly disturbed by the horrific actions and the senseless deaths that occurred that day. Everyone deserves to feel safe at school and at work. All parents should feel secure about sending their children to learn outside the home. As Arne Duncan, United States Secretary of Education said
"Not all tragedies can be prevented. But schools and districts need to be ready to handle crises, large and small, to keep our children and staff out of harm’s way and ready to learn and teach, and to recover from such tragedies should they occur." ---
I have full confidence in the leadership of our Superintendent in the Jefferson Elementary School District.
According to Superintendent Vidales, "our district and school has plans that are in line with state and county guidelines, rehearse drills for a variety of incidents and regularly revise those plans as a result of the drill learnings." You can rest assured that the school district is working with local police agencies to coordinate responses and support for any incident that may occur on our school sites. If anyone should have more questions, please direct them to Superintendent Bernie Vidales or your corresponding police department.
I hope you all will have an enjoyable Winter Break and come back Rejuvenated and Inspired for 2013.
Board President, Jefferson Elementary School District.
By Marion Brown and Norma G.
Today we introduce you to a unique Program called Parents Reaching Out.
What is PRO?
PRO actually stands for Parents Reaching Out. We provide education and appropriate tools for positive discipline techniques and parental involvement in school so the parents can be able to communicate with their children and be involved in the schools as well.
Helping parents get involved at school.
As parents, our experience has been that there are programs in the schools, but not specific programs that address this specific issue. They have general programs, the schools that do have programs, but not all of them do so there is a great need for these programs. Also, we found out that a lot of the parents that attend these seminars act like they've never heard of these tools. We've had parents that have older children, parents that have more children than us and parents who have more experience, but what they tell us is: "Wow I didn't know that." "This is so helpful." "Thank you so much for sharing this with us. "Thanks for the enlightenment." We do find that there is a need. There's a great need. And like we said, not all of the schools have it so definitely a lot more of the schools need to have them.
Why PRO is in existence and the need for it.
Being parents, care-givers, moms, grandmothers, you name it; we've always volunteered in the classrooms or different school functions and just tried to be part of the school community. To us it just seemed like there were barriers to gaining information from the schools and actually being part of some type of strategy to work with the children who may have issues with school work or teachers. It was like being pushed away from being part of the solution. It just seemed like parents weren't really welcomed or weren't part of the environment to see positive change happen for the children. We wanted to volunteer but it seemed like "no, we have it covered". So one of the things that We would do was just go in and volunteer on our own and it started as us just going into the classroom of our own child. From there we would make sure that the school, administrators, or teachers would know we were there to help. After gaining some ground with the school staff, we wanted a good flow so we would know that our children's needs were being met.
"Parents Reaching Out"
There is so much parents have to offer, that If a school doesn't have a parent program or PTO or PTA it was really a move on our part to try and organize parents. For whatever reason there might be language barriers; there would be disconnect from the community we would just try as a little group of parents that did get together, go into the schools and see how we could help join in on whatever the school was offering. It was a give and take situation so we had to organize as parents first and then take it from there.
Recent Seminars for Parents Reaching Out.
To provide Parent Training we wrote a grant to the California State PTA for $1,000. We worked with the Westmoor PTSA to get the grant and they got it. That's how they were able to get the services into the school. The training was wonderful, we had a great attendance of close to 50 people. Some of the topics we covered were, Effective Communication Skills. Positive Discipline Techniques, and how parents can be more involved in their child's education and school. After the seminar some of the comments were: "This needs to be done year round not once a year." We need to have this as assemblies." "We need to have this for all the students in the school and all the parents." We're happy to say that the PTSA has scheduled the Parents Education Night and Parents Reaching Out Seminars again for this school year. We understand that a lot of the parents don't know how to even talk to the schools or talk to the teachers. They feel like outsiders. So this is why we teach them ways to feel comfortable to go into the schools, introduce themselves, talk to the principals and teachers. Also, they need to be going to the PTA meetings and voting on whatever changes or programs need to be coming into the schools. They need to feel comfortable.
Norma G. and Marion Brown are the Lead Facilitators for a unique Program called Parents Reaching Out. They both write and speak regularly about why there is a need for more parent involvement in schools and how their program addresses Bullying and Violence in schools.
For more info go to http://askacademy.org and http://stopbullyingsystem.com
Shakeel Ali is an Educator, Entrepreneur, and Gun Violence Survivor.