Educators in Arkansas are using new language to address the issue of bullying. Often anti-bullying messages deter negative behavior, aiming at stopping bullies and encouraging victims to report all incidents. Many educators are looking to add some positivity to the mix, encouraging students to be emotionally resilient and resolve simple conflicts with kind words.
One school that’s setting an example is Southside Middle School in Batesville, AR. Principal, Kayla Turner, will tell you that it all starts in the classroom. This year, Southside staff are training students to be “Golden Rule Ambassadors”, using my social and emotional curriculum. “Teachers use the lessons during advisory time.” says Turner. “This is 15 minutes per day of gender specific small groups, focused around social and emotional needs of students.”
The state of Arkansas requires schools to display posters prohibiting bullying on campus. Many schools find the state-supplied posters to be negative and rather unhelpful. Some schools have replaced these with educational posters which reinforce conflict resolution skills and coping techniques. Turner recently hung my set of Peace Posters.
If I’m a student that’s being picked on, a “no bully zone” poster isn’t going to help me. Reminding me that “words only have the power that you give them” is the message that targets need to hear. The most effective educators that I go beyond empathizing with students who are picked on. Building on this, they teach the child how to protect their feelings and respond when someone is mean to them.
It’s always a joy to see schools using conflict as an educational opportunity. If you’d like to change the culture in your school, please contact us about hosting a presentation or learn more about the Campus Peace-Building Initiative.