#952 Simple tip to end bullying in schools

By Cathryn Wellner / February 23, 2014
Writing a life-changing note

Every Friday each child writes a life-changing list; photo by caprisco, via morgueFile

A friend sent me the link to a blog post with a title that invites forwarding: “Share this with all the schools, please”. She added this note:

I share this with you because you are involved with education, with children and care about what children are experiencing.

This is an amazing idea, so simple, yet so deep. I hope that we can all find a way to use it and pass it on to others…

As soon as I read it, I did two things. First, I wandered around on the Momastery Web site and decided Glennon Doyle had chosen the perfect tag line: “Truth Tellers + Hope Spreaders”.

Second, I started this blog post because what Doyle learned from her daughter’s teacher is something every teacher should know about. And if every teacher did this simple thing, bullying would be whacked right down to the ground.

I won’t tell the whole story here. You’ll want to read Doyle’s captivating story for that. I’ll just tell you the gist of it. Every Friday this gifted and compassionate teacher asks her students to write the names of four students they would like to sit with the next week. They also nominate one outstanding classroom citizen for the week. They give her their choices privately. She may or may not honour the requests.

What she will do, every single Friday, is examine them carefully. Doyle says she is looking for these patterrns:

  • Who is not getting requested by anyone else?
  • Who doesn’t even know who to request?
  • Who never gets noticed enough to be nominated?
  • Who had a million friends last week and none this week?

Those private little papers tell her what is really happening in her classroom and outside of it. This is the way Doyle describes the impact:

It is like mining for gold – the gold being those little ones who need a little help – who need adults to step in and TEACH them how to make friends, how to ask others to play, how to join a group, or how to share their gifts with others. And it’s a bully deterrent because every teacher knows that bullying usually happens outside of her eyeshot –  and that often kids being bullied are too intimidated to share. But as she said – the truth comes out on those safe, private, little sheets of paper.

The teacher started doing this after the shattering massacre at Columbine High School. She has done it every Friday since then. I am sure Doyle is right. That teacher has saved lives.

She is retiring at the end of this school year, but if every teacher in every classroom does this, the world will be transformed. Oh, I know not everyone will. But those who do will change lives. The effect will ripple outward, and that gives me hope.

Read the whole story. Be inspired. If you are a teacher, try it. If you are a parent or grandparent or anyone who works with and loves children, share it. This is radical, transforming love.

Thanks to Judith Nielsen for the link to Glennon Doyle’s Web site.

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About the author

Cathryn Wellner

Writer, storyteller, foodie, enviro, animal lover, photo enthusiast, traveler - opinionated but open. I wake up eager to start the day.

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