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My school is doing a huge anti-bullying thing right now, which is awesome but somewhat confusing for first graders. Suddenly even the smallest offense brings cries of, “S/he’s bullying me!”
So this week I’m doing a lesson a day on what bullying means and how to determine if what you are dealing with is a “small” problem (and how to handle those) or a “tell an adult” problem, etc. Today I wrote “A bully” on chart paper and asked the class to suggest sentences to define “bully”. The first suggestion was “a bully hurts others.” So I wrote that, then did a little play acting. “Wait…Aidan, you accidentally tripped Taylor this morning and he got hurt. Does that mean you’re a bully?” Well of course this was met with dismay and denial, so we added “deliberately”, and they insisted that I add something about how “hurt” could mean “your body or your feelings”, so we did a little vocabulary lesson and threw that in.
“But wait! When I was a kid, I sometimes got really mad at my sister and well… I maybe hurt her feelings on purpose…” My students saw where I was going with that immediately and wanted another revision, that a bully hurts others over and over again (and I did a little dance inside, because that was the big takeaway I wanted from this lesson). Finally, one student brought up the idea that bullies want to make you afraid (this probably came from a lesson that the school counselor did a while back), and that was voted in as the final revision.
And these are first graders! I’m so proud. They really knew a lot more than they thought they did. They just had to stop and really think about it. We will keep this chart up for a while and refer to it a lot over the next few weeks, I’m sure.
Don’t forget to wear pink tomorrow (April 10) to show support for anti-bullying efforts.