Every October, during National Bullying Prevention Month, I think back to my very first job in a school as a lunch lady (ok, a salad girl). Too often, I saw a child who sat alone. I saw a child mock another child. I saw a child being tripped or pushed. I always intervened, but I never had any formal training on what to do when I saw bullying.
You see, for a very long time bullying was treated as a harmless rite of passage—and bullied students were assured, “You’ll get over it.” What’s more, resources for addressing bullying were virtually nonexistent. I did my best, but today educators don’t have to guess. We know what works in preventing bullying, and it starts with addressing school climate.
What is school climate, anyway? The National School Climate Center refers to it as, “the quality and character of school life,” and argues that, “a positive school climate is associated with academic achievement, effective risk prevention efforts and positive youth development.” I like to think about it as the feeling of protection and security and joy we should get when we are in school.
Today, students are being targeted with hate speech, for their sexual orientation and gender, and for cultural or religious bias (with many quoting the President of the United States, I might add). This exacts a terrible toll on students’ brains and psyches, not to mention the well-documented impacts on declining academic achievement and rising absenteeism.
So what can we do about it? Well, addressing your school’s climate is a prime example of educator power.
That’s why I’m inviting you to join a series of webinars that will teach you how tackle difficult subjects with students, and how to speak up at your school to create a positive climate for students and educators alike.
Co-hosted by NEA EdJustice and Teaching Tolerance, these webinars will provide you with the knowledge and tools to tackle these issues head on. And as educators, I know you won’t be afraid to do just that. Learn more about what you can do to address your school’s climate.
NEA EdJustice and Teaching Tolerance Present:
Wednesday, October 18, 2017
Learn strategies for responding to biased remarks in a timely manner and helping students to do the same. You will learn to name different types of biased language you might hear at school, identify words that have become colloquial yet are still harmful, understand intent versus impact and gain valuable skills for creating a positive school climate.