Thursday, January 28, 2010

Principal Notes

There has been a lot of coverage recently in the media on the topic of bullying. This past Friday, January 22, 2010 before these events came of light in the media, we had a grade 1-5 whole school assembly to discuss the themes of bullying, acceptance of differences (prejudices), and respect. Myself, DARE Officer Keith Sheppard, and the school guidance counselor, Jessica May, all spoke at this assembly. One of the practices the staff at Pine Glen introduced is “Fishing for Respect.” This is a practice of recognizing respect- students “being there” for their classmates. When a staff person observes a child showing respect or “being there” for a fellow classmate, they will issue that child a “fish.” This certificate has a top and bottom form. One part will go home to inform parents of how proud they should be of their child. The other part of the form will be hung up in the building in recognition of how much we value respect in our building.

Some of the additional policies and practices we have in place to preventively address the issue of bullying is students receiving instruction in the Second Step Program.

The Second Step Program is divided into three units:
• Empathy Training: children learn about feelings and ways to show understanding and caring toward others.
• Impulse Control and Problem Solving: Children learn new ways to solve problems and practice skills such as calming down, apologizing, interrupting politely, and making new friends.
• Anger Management: Children learn to manage their anger in ways that refrains from hurting others.

Incorporating photographs and videos of children in everyday situations, Second Step lessons, introduce and teach all of the above skills. All students are given the chance to practice the skills they’re learning through role-playing, activities, and games which are an essential component of the lessons.

In addition, students participate in the DARE program which has an anti-bullying component. Furthermore, in our physical education classes the topic is addressed. This topic is also addressed in morning meeting with homeroom teachers.

We have a wonderful community here at Pine Glen. I am daily witnessing students working together and showing respect for one another. Children learn the most from the models they observe. It is our continued respect for one another, admiration of kindness/caring and recognition/modeling of community service that will continue to be the best way to thwart or hamper bullying.

The following is taken from the Pine Glen School Handbook. It is the school policy on bullying.

In order to create an environment in which every member is appreciated, respected, and valued, bullying will not be tolerated at the Pine Glen School. No child should feel unsafe in school due to another child’s bullying behavior.

The term bullying shall mean: intentional, repeated written, electronic, or verbal expressions, physical acts, or gestures which a reasonable student under the circumstances should know would or could cause: 1) physical harm, 2) damage to another student’s property, or 3) a hostile school environment. The behavior must be severe, repeated, or pervasive, and must interfere with a student’s academic performance or ability to learn, or interfere with a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from services, activities, or privileges.

Bullying may be of a social nature or a physical nature. Social bullying may include:
• Excluding or leaving others out
• Spreading hurtful or untrue stories
• Name calling
• Threats or trying to scare someone
• Threats to control another child or their friendship with someone else
• Disrespect for a child’s family members
• Disrespect for the property of others

Physical bullying may include:
• Hitting
• Tripping
• Shoving
• Spitting
• Punching
• Pinching

Accusations of bullying should be brought to the attention of the principal immediately. The principal and/or designee will investigate the claim and make a determination regarding steps to be taken. Students whose conduct does not comply with the school’s expectations may be subject to disciplinary action as deemed appropriate by the principal or a designee. Pine Glen School has a zero tolerance for any kind of bullying behavior. No child should feel unsafe in school due to another child’s bullying behavior.

What Bullying is Not

It is equally important for all members of the school community to understand that conflict is not automatically synonymous with bullying. Bullying is NOT two students of about the same age and size arguing with each other, a back and forth banter or teasing, or a shouting match between two disagreeing students. Those are some typical interactions that may occur and will be dealt with, but they are not the same as bullying, which is characterized by intention, repetition, and a power imbalance.

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