Monthly Archives: May 2012

PRO Grant Education Subsidies Boost School Bullying Prevention Efforts

Pro Grant Education SubsidiesEducation Subsidies are available to assist with the costs of bullying prevention programs which can be featured in your school. Parent Council groups in Ontario often have education subsidies available to them in the form of parent reaching out grants, otherwise known as PRO Grants. Pro Grants can be used for purposes that benefit the whole school and particularly parents. What could be more beneficial to parents in the school, than events and activities to help them learn how to deal with bullying that may involve their children? Schools today teach children how to deal with bullying and most schools feature programs, activities, and curriculum-based learning all geared toward teaching children bullying reduction strategies. Up to now, one of the missing links has often been the parent piece. Parents need to be on the same page as children when it comes to bullying prevention. What are some of the things parents need to know?

1/ Cyber-bullying guidance

2/ How to be proactive & prevent bullying

3/ How to guide children in case bullying incidents occur

Cyber-bullying guidance:
When we present our parent programs in schools, one of the first things we point out is related to internet safety. Parents need to be aware that the computer at home should be located in a central place where everyone goes like the kitchen or family room. Young children should grow up with the idea that Internet usage should be open, and freely shared with each other. It should not be a secretive activity. Another thing we point out is how to provide guidance to children if they do run into a problem online. We need to help our children remain open and trusting, so that if something happens online which is negative, they will share it with us as parents. Keeping communication as open as possible when he children are young is a great first step to helping them when they are older.

How to be proactive and prevent bullying:
Teach your children to walk with confidence. Help your child build strong self-esteem so that they will be sending the message to others, that they are not available as a bullying target. Teach your children to report bullying. Help your children understand that after school it is important to share what has happened during the days’ events. If children get used to sharing their daily activities with family when they are young, there is a much higher chance that they will continue to feel free to share when they are older. Studies have shown that problems occur in children who try to keep all of their frustrations inside.

How to guide children in case of bullying incidents:
If a bullying incident happens, step in immediately to stop the behavior from continuing. Be clear about the facts and understand the difference being telling and tattling. Consult with the teacher, vice-principal or principal. Remain calm, keep an open mind and be discreet. If things don’t improve, meet with the principal again and make a written plan. Be sure to contact police if a bullying incident involves criminal behavior such as sexual assault or the use of a weapon. Check with your school to see if education subsidies have been used to sponsor parent workshops on bullying prevention.

Pro Grants are worthwhile education subsidies that have made many anti-bullying activities a reality in Ontario schools. Parents have told us on numerous occasions that they have benefited from workshops and bullying prevention seminars such as our ‘Stand Up – Keep Your Kids’ evening session.

Bruce Langford presents anti-bullying sessions in schools and workplaces to counter bullying and increase respect
www.standupnow.ca.

Bullying in Elementary School – 3 Key Ways To Stop It!

Yesterday we visited a Toronto Catholic School where the topic of bullying in elementary school is definitely taken seriously.

Georges Vanier Catholic School Principal, Ms. Silvana Reda, is obviously passionate about the topic of bullying as well as child safety. She has discovered many ways to help stop bullying in her elementary school as we were to learn during our visit.

Bullying in elementary schoolHappy Students: If students feel happy and respected, bullying in elementary school is diminished. That is certainly a belief that I personally share. After presenting hundreds of anti-bullying programs, I have come to the bullying in elementary school solutionconclusion that one way to reduce bullying in elementary school is to make sure students feel respected, appreciated and happy. There are a number of ways to do this, and I’ve talked about them some of my other blogs. However, students tell me that one of the things that make them feel happiest in school is simply having a sense of belonging. Children want to feel safe, they want to feel included, and they want to feel a sense of importance. Studentsbullying in elementary school - student work want to feel empowered in their environment. When you think about it, the same thing is probably true for most of us as adults. Don’t we want to feel safe included an important in our workplace? Don’t those things help us to feel valuable and empowered? I believe the answer is an emphatic yes.

Happy Teachers: I believe the following statements to be true in many cases:
Happy teachers are productive teachers.
Happy teachers generate happiness in their students.
Happy teachers get along well with other staff members.
After meeting thousands of teachers and visiting hundreds of schools, I really believe that a powerful way to reduce bullying in elementary school is to make sure the teachers enjoy coming to their jobs. One person who can help make this happen is the school principal. She or he can create a working environment which puts teachers at ease while at the same time resulting in a productive and creative atmosphere.

Activities: There are many activities which can take place during the school day to remind students about the virtues of respect, kindness and consideration. These activities can certainly help to reduce incidents of bullying around the school. Principal, Silvana Reda gave us a tour of George Vanier School Catholic School pointing out many activities her students had done which were related to respect and bullying prevention.
Caring Tree – In the front hall area is a caring tree which reminds everyone in the school about acts of caring which take place at Georges Vanier.
Bulletin Board Display – Each class creates an anti-bullying poster monthly which is displayed on the board for all to see. A monthly anti-bullying theme keeps it interesting.
Posters – Throughout the school are anti-bullying posters featuring students from Georges Vanier. The messages and designs of the posters were created by students for students and have been reproduced on professionally looking hard board and then permanently mounted on the walls.
Murals – The library features a colourful mural around the room on the wall near the ceiling. This mural is very inspiring and makes the room come alive.
Announcements – Play song clips, read catchy slogans, or have a ‘respect’ word of the day.
Contests – Get everybody involved in contests by offering fun prizes or even giving the winning class celebrity status with the school mascot for a week. If your school mascot is the cougar for instance, have a stuffed cougar which spends time in various classrooms or locations in the school as part of the award system. You could run a poster contest, a write a catchy song contest, a slogan for a month contest or even a math or science contest. Your imagination is your only limit.

So the three key ways to help stop bullying in elementary school are:
1/ Ensure students feel respected, appreciated and happy.
2/ Help teachers be happy in their roles
3/ Bullying prevention and respect activities

Have fun getting everyone involved.

Bruce Langford offers bullying prevention school assemblies and keynote talks:
http://www.standupnow.ca

How to use respect activities to change your school climate

How can we truly change the climate in our school? Can we actually re-form opinions that students and staff possess? Is there a way we can change a negative or mean-spirited school climate into one where cooperation, kindness and consideration abound? Can respect activities actually make a positive difference?

St. Sofia offers Respect Activities

Many Respect Activities at St. Sofia School

The short answer is yes; these kinds of changes can be made. In fact there are schools in our own jurisdictions that prove this fact. Attempting to define the actual system or step by step list of procedures to achieve these goals could be a challenge, but it is safe to say that some basic respect activities can go a long way toward making a difference. Here are some tips to get started.

First of all we must define what we are actually trying to achieve. Many people would agree that we are trying to achieve a climate of respect within the walls of the school. In my opinion respect must start from the top and sift its way down. If the administration, including all the teachers, all support staff and even custodial staff live respect in their day-to-day work at the school, then others will begin to take notice. By others I mean students and even any parents that may be in the school. Many teachers use model respect to their students daily and many teachers use specific respect activities in their classrooms in their day-to-day teaching  and have done it for years.

If your older students in the school show respect to each other, younger students will definitely begin to take notice. As younger kids began to learn from their older role models, they will begin to see respect as the norm. Situations and incidences which do not show respect will begin to be seen as highly unusual and unacceptable. All of these steps, of course, take time to initiate. In some schools it may take months, others may take years, while still others could possibly take decades in order to make these kinds of profound changes.

There are a number of tools which can help speed up this change so the transition can begin to take place sooner. The following activities will help to grow respect and to compound the effects:

1/ Form a student group which focuses completely on posters, announcement reminders, and other methods of awareness to help remind students and staff about the goal of achieving respect.

2/ Run special spirit days throughout the year which will help you get people on board in a fun way. Examples are: pink shirt stand up for respect day, be kind to someone day, pass on a smile day or respect activities workshop day.

3/ Special assemblies can also be a great way to help lift the spirits of the student body, and get everyone working in the same direction.

The above ideas for respect activities are only starters, but once you begin, I believe you will be moving toward a most worthwhile destination — achieving a climate of true respect in your school.

Bruce Langford presents anti-bullying and respect workshops internationally. www.StandUpForRespect.com 

 

5 Reasons Why Your School Needs Anti Bullying Programs

anti bullying programsSchool anti bullying programs can make a profound impact on their audience. An antibullying program can be a one day initiative in the form of a theme-based assembly. Anti bullying programs can also be a series of events to raise awareness of bullying prevention in your school. An anti-bullying program is an initiative of some type that raises awareness of the topic. By the time you have finished reading this blog post, you will know exactly why your school will benefit from having anti bullying programs.
1/ Liability
Can you imagine how a parent of a child would feel if their child ends their life as a result of a bullying situation at your school? Any one of us would be devastated. One of the first questions asked is, “What anti-bullying initiatives had the school undertaken in the past few months or so?” Make sure the answer to that question is, “Yes, within the past year we have been active with this specific anti bullying program.” Did we do the program just because of liability issues? No, of course not, but the fact is that liability is a real issue in today’s society.
2/ Momentum
Energy packed school anti bullying programs encourage student participation and will help the student population gain momentum toward action. They will identify the need within their student body for bullying prevention efforts. They will be motivated to act on that need so that they can make a difference with their classmates and in their school community.
3/ Perception
Perception is reality. Have you ever heard this phrase? Students, staff and parents must believe that your school cares about bullying prevention within its walls. Your school may have great initiatives in place to deal with bullying, but if the general perception is that bullying is not a priority, then as a teacher or administrator, you are going to have a difficult time changing that perception without having anti bullying programs in place.
4/ Focus
Do you sometimes feel like your school is lacking focus or direction? Many times students, teachers and parents can have this same feeling. Bullying prevention must be a central initiative. After all, bullying is conveyed by the press as being a major issue, and as an educator or student, you know that it is a major issue. Students, staff, administrators and parents must all be focused on the topic of bullying in order to make a change to the culture. They are many ways to create focus, but one powerful way is to have meaningful anti bullying programs in place which will bring to the forefront the importance of this major issue.
5/ Cooperation
You will be amazed at the effect of one single powerful anti bullying program. If done properly, students will begin to see a need for cooperation and they will start to work together to create a sense of community. Cooperation is a goal schools are constantly striving for, and the best way to achieve it is to motive students and staff by helping them understand that they can make a difference.

These are only five reasons why your school needs to have anti bullying programs in place.
Contact ‘Stand Up Now Productions’ at www.standupnow.ca to find out more about our school anti bullying programs.

Can You Name 5 Reasons For Being Honest?

When dealing with bullying, you will find that the issue of honesty often comes to the surface. It is important to be honest, and I emphasize this with students in presentations everywhere. But what is an actual, real-life reason for being honest?

Here are five specific reasons for honesty:

1/ ReputationHonesty is one of the most important ways to build a solid reputation. It is a key element in almost everyone’s mind as to whether a person is desirable. If you are choosing a friend, would your first choice be someone you knew was completely honest, or someone whose honesty was questionable? The answer is obvious. Protect your reputation by being honest. That reputation will be with you for a very long time.

2/  Peace Of Mind — there is and gnawing feeling inside you when you say something that is not true. That feeling can remain for a very long time, and it can be more uncomfortable than many people realize. When you tell an untruth you may think that you can simply move on, but the fact is that your subconscious mind remembers you have told something which is untrue. Have you ever heard the expression, ‘that is something that really eats away at me?’ That’s what dishonesty can do. Subconsciously it can do harm over time. If you take a vow of honesty, you will be rewarded in your life. You will have an inner peace which will give you great comfort.

 

3/ Relationships — honesty can solidify a friendship or family connection and build the feeling of confidence that you have with the other person or people in your relationships. Whether we are talking about relationships of family, marriage, business, education, or religion, honesty is a vital part of those relationships. Honesty can create an environment where a relationship of any kind will flourish.

 

4/ Health And Well-Being — honesty can free us from guilt, worry, and other forms of psychological stresses. Dishonesty can cause many psychological problems, therefore it only makes sense that honesty can result in excellent mental health. There is a feeling of peace and calm that results from saying the right things, being honest, and living a life of integrity. We simply feel better when we are honest.

 5/ Being Genuine — after presenting hundreds of shows to children, one commonality that comes to mind is the answer to the question I often ask; “how do you make good friends and keep them“. The answer that comes from students time after time is simply two words; “be yourself”. If children see ‘being yourself’ as such an important aspect of relationships and friendships then it is obviously very important to be genuine. How do you be a genuine person without being honest? Of course the answer is… it would be impossible. To be genuine, you absolutely must be honest. So remember, be yourself, be genuine and most of all be honest.

Bruce Langford is an anti-bullying advocate and school speaker & presenter on all topics related to bullying.  www.standupnow.ca

 

Learn How Self-Regulation and Bullying are Directly Related

Mississauga Living Arts CentreI am returning from an excellent conference on self-regulation by Stuart Shankar and Jane Bertrand of York University in Toronto, held at the Mississauga Living Arts Centre and sponsored by the Peel Region District School Board. This was the twenty-fourth annual school psychology conference which the PSB has sponsored.
Self-regulation is closely related to the topic of bullying. Self-regulation is about stress and about identifying stressors so you can do something about them. Replace them or change something so that you are no longer stressed. Dr. Shankar emphasized that self-regulation is NOT self-control; it is what makes self-control possible.

Question: How does a child get self-regulated?
Answer: A child gets self-regulated by being regulated.

As teachers, we want our children to be calm so they will be focused and alert. Dr. Shankar really helped me to understand how stressors can affect children and youth negatively and as a result they can have a tough time learning or even functioning in a classroom.
Shankar and Bertrand presented the Five Domains of Self-Regulation. They are: 1/ Arousal Regulation (Physiological)
2/ Emotion
3/ Cognitive
4/ Social
5/ Pro-social

The above five self-regulation domains are all related. One level affects another. People are hyper or hypo sensitive to many things such as bright lighting, visual stimulation or auditory distractions. Auditory distractions are the single greatest stressor so it is important to consider ambient noise, chair clatter and bells or buzzers. These can all have a negative effect on students and their ability to cope in the classroom or their ability to learn effectively.

One segment of the presentation dealt with the teen brain. In teenage years, the brain is driven into cycles of restlessness and exhaustion and in most cases teens are not able to identify their own state of arousal. In other words, they may not realize they are tired or be able to recognize some of their other body states.
Here are the 6 Stages of Arousal as described by Dr. Shankar:
1/ Asleep 2/ Drowsy 3/ Hypo-alert 4/ Calmly focused & alert 5/ Hyper-alert 6/ Flooded
If a teen is constantly being stimulated (for example with TV or video games or skateboarding etc.), then they may be headed for difficulties unless they have a good level of awareness of their own bodies. Teens are natural risk-takers because of the state of the teenage brain, but we need to understand that planful risk-taking is much less likely to get a teen into trouble. Shankar says we need to teach teens their six levels of awareness so they can learn self-regulation.

Jane Bertrand taught us seven keys to a self-regulated classroom. They are:
1/ Classroom makeover (pastel walls with little clutter)
2/ Alert programme
3/ Exercise breaks
4/ Fidgit toys
5/ Playing with clay or modeling medium
6/ Womb room (Snoezelen room)
7/ Yoga

So much fascinating information on the brain and self-regulation. Thanks to you both, Stuart Shanker and Jane Bertrand and to the Peel School Board for sponsoring the event.

Bruce Langford is an anti-bullying advocate who presents bullying prevention workshops in Toronto, Mississauga, North York, Kitchener and London Ontario. www.standupnow.ca telephone: 905-233-2102