Saturday, February 20, 2016
Is it Rude, is it Mean or is it Bullying?
But, that is not what I am talking about here. The word bullied has become a real hot button. I know, you know what I mean. I am talking about those students and parents who call every unpleasant exchange between students bullying. No matter how few times or infrequently a student experiences an unkind remark, teasing, or physical interaction it is called bullying. It is a word that is increasingly used to describe any situation where a student has gotten their feelings hurt whether intentionally or unintentionally. Parents and students utter this word and we spring into action to investigate their report of bullying. And because of our response, I have come to realize it is a word our students will often utilize when the attention is on them for some wrongdoing. Our students have learned they can instantly control any situation and shift the focus of teachers, and especially their parents, from their troubles if they claim they are being bullied. What I needed was a way to educate students and their parents about the difference between conflict and bullying.
Last year I came across a wonderful article written in 2012 by Signe Whitson, Licensed Social Worker, School Counselor, author, keynote speaker and Chief Operating Officer of Life Space Crisis Intervention Institute. Many of you may be familiar with her article titled, Is it Rude, Is it Mean or Is it Bullying? In it she explains how everything isn't bullying and how many people have difficulty discerning what is and is not bullying. Signe also mentions how she first heard best selling children's author Trudy Ludwig "talk of these distinguishing terms" and then went on to use them in her own work. As I read her article I thought, this is what I want my students and parents to know, so I began work on creating a set of classroom lessons.
Along the way I ran into a bit of trouble with my students failure to comprehend the differences in these terms. So I went straight to the source and contacted Signe myself. She responded to my email and then gave me her number and invited me to call her. What an honor to share my experiences and ideas with her. Signe listened to my concerns regarding my students and their struggles with her vocabulary. She directed me to her website resource page and recommended I use her forced choice activity to help my students think more critically about the definitions of rude, mean, and bullying they were learning. I did, and they loved it! I could see them making the connections as they moved from corner to corner in response to Signe's scenarios. They were thinking and questioning and arguing convincingly about how some situations might be mean rather than rude and it would depend on how it was said to a person. I could see their point. They were internalizing the concepts and questioning the dynamics of the scenarios. It was truly exciting!
My students and have have enjoyed these lessons on "Is it Rude, Is it Mean or Is it Bullying?" Below you will find a brief outline of the 5 lessons I have created, my activity forms and PowerPoint too. I based these lessons on the work of Signe Whitson. I publish them here to share with you with her permission. Please visit Signe Whitson's website for more information about her work on bullying and aggression.
LESSON PLAN FORMS and OVERVIEW
Click here for Rude, Mean, Bully lesson plans
Pre/post test (non-tech option)
Rude vs. Mean vs. Bully PowerPoint
Inappropriate Behaviors Brainstorming sheet
Signe Whitson's Forced Choice Activity
Rude, Mean, Bully Behavior Statements
Lessons 1: The pre-test. For those with technology resources I have created a Kahoot!
(website for game-based learning) for gathering pre/post test data. I have also include a "non-tech" option (paper and pencil) for those who do not have access to technology.
Lesson 2: A PowerPoint introduction to the rude, mean and bullying vocabulary and a brainstorming activity on thinking of examples of things that are rude, mean, and bullying.
Lesson 3: Forced Choice Scenarios from Signe Whitson's website resource page.
Lesson 4: Divide students into groups, print one copy of the "Rude, Mean, Bullying Behavior" statement sheets, cut them up and divide them into stacks. Each group will sort and glue their stack to index cards according to which are rude, mean and bullying. Cards are shared with the class for approval and glued to chart paper to make a tree map poster for the students to take back to class.
Lesson 5: Post-test using Kahoot! or non-tech option.
I have used these lessons with all my 3rd, 4th and 5th graders (15 classes total) and while their comprehension of the terminology is only at about 70%, there is a vast improvement over the previous number of reports we had regarding bullying. Even though my students aren't there yet, in fully understanding the definition of rude, mean and bullying, they are conscious of the differences. Now when complaints of bullying arise, I am able to reference these lessons and help my students make a more accurate assessment of their own situation.
I hope you and your students find these lessons helpful. Keep in touch and let me know how your students respond to learning the difference in rude, mean, and bullying.