Yes, everybody does know. In this world of dysfunction, deviance and denial how could anyone not know? In the world of education there are things that go on that are so obvious that denying them is just embarrassing and we all should be red faced. There is an 800 pound gorilla in the room and he is being ignored and the path of least resistance is being taken. What are these things that educators, parents and society knows but for some reason won’t discuss or won’t even admit? Let me share with you my thoughts on ten things that everybody knows.
Everybody Knows: That disrespect is pervasive in society. Students aren’t corrected for it and they become adults who believe that they can say and do whatever they want. And that includes instilling the fear of God into a teacher who tries to correct their kid. Teachers complain about it, but no one talks about the problem. Why? Because this fear ascends the ranks and school administrators and even the superintendent live in fear of irate parents. No one confronts and everybody runs. The schools are controlled by 20% of the parents with the biggest mouth, and the most threatening attitudes and behaviors.
Everybody Knows: That no one has self control. Have you looked at the condition of society? 1 in 4 homes are in foreclosure. I guess we can blame the banks, or can we? Everybody wants something bigger and better. To get bigger and better the money has to be made to get it, unless the bank doesn’t care. But, in the final analysis the decision is made by the buyer. Teenage obesity, diabetes, addiction, alcoholism, are all evidence of the lack of self control in society. And oh, did I mention anger issues and the left over bitterness from childhood that gets carried into adulthood wreaking havoc on families. Society has lost control of its thoughts, its words, and its actions. Everybody knows. What produces a nation of people with self-control, consequences do. Unfortunately many people are sitting in that leaking boat right now and are experiencing the consequences of a lack of self control.
Everybody Knows: That we have medicalized education and have gotten to the point where meds are the first choice in treating behavior problems not the last. Oh, don’t get me wrong medication has proven to help kids with ADHD or ODD. Talk to any therapist though and they will tell you that medication in combination with therapy is the plan that nets the best result. In schools meds are relied on too heavily, and need to be used in combination with solid discipline and effective consequences. Realistically though where were ADHD and ODD 40 years ago? They didn’t exist or they weren’t invented yet. Why, because kids with behavior problems were few and far between. Authority was respected by parents and students. What happens when we discover that disrespect is now the norm and not the exception, we create a condition to support the behavior. If a kid acts up today it is usually attributed to the fact that he doesn’t take his medication consistently, when in reality he is not being disciplined effectively.
Everybody Knows: That the statement, “I like you, but don’t like your behavior” is a lie. Be honest you don’t like the kid. The truth is we are all are measured by our behavior. I own my behavior, I am my behavior. Like me but not my behavior, stop it. There are some adults that we don’t like because of their behavior, we might be married to one, are kids any different. The truth is I don’t like you because of your behavior, and I go home every night praying that you take the next day off.
Everybody Knows: That years ago the only thing we wanted was for a kid to obey; now it’s the last thing we get. As a matter of fact obedience has become a dirty word. The educational gurus who have spent their time attacking education from a theoretical standpoint, but never really spent any time interacting in a classroom with a group of wild kids liken the word obedience to dog training. They fear that we will destroy the creative side of a kid’s brain by not allowing him to choose and by forcing obedience. Okay already, let’s change obedience to compliance. The definition; doing what you are told when you are told to do it, with a good attitude. The NJ Turnpike has a sign posted right after you pay the toll, it reads; you have left the NJ Turnpike OBEY local speed laws. I guess we only have to obey as we get older.
Everybody Knows: That we lie to kids, and we have inflated their grades because we don’t want to destroy their self esteem. By the way, what is self esteem? Today kids feel good about themselves for no apparent reason. It is almost impossible to be left back, and if a kid has low test scores the teacher always gets the blame. So we let the kid know that he is doing great academically, inflate his grades and give him a false sense of his academic ability. Don’t worry someone will tell him, like the college he will be trying to get into in a few years. Then for sure everybody will know including him.
Everybody Knows: That excuses are built around circumstance, environmental and genetic circumstance. Crimes get committed and circumstance is always brought up. Tough upbringing, or he was raised on the wrong side of the tracks are just two excuses used. We are determined, that’s who we are, and we can’t change. Circumstances only influence they don’t determine behavior. Provide enough excuses for anyone and they will provide you the evidence to support your belief. Teachers have been forced to excuse behavior by a dysfunctional system. A system that has been shoe horned into education by a dysfunctional society.
Everybody Knows: That parents need parenting. The question is who is going to do it? After speaking to hundreds of parents about their children what I discovered was they don’t talk to their own parents. They lack discipline skills and are so angry and lost that they take out their rage on their own kids. Three generations of dysfunction. Everyone knows it, and talks about it, but no one knows what to do about this disaster that Everybody Knows.
Everybody Knows: That kids don’t fear anything today. As a matter of fact parents fear their kids more than kids fear their parents. Systemic discipline is just a slap on the wrist and dysfunctional schools fight dysfunctional families. While all of this is going on the kids watch, laugh, and say and do what they want without any real consequence.
Everybody Knows: That kids have lost their ability to get along and are rapidly becoming adults who have matured physically, but not mentally, or emotionally. Society has been taught to disagree, but with the wrong attitude, so don’t disagree with me or I won’t like you. Disagreements are things that get walked away from because of the fear of conflict. The idea that a productive conflict could exist and the two parties involved could leave enough space between them for a disagreement is too tough to imagine because egos are just too big. Win-Win can’t happen because someone always has to win and someone has to lose. Don’t talk too loud now because someone will hear, and even your whispers will get back to the wrong person, like your boss who will muzzle you and make sure that you always walk the line of political correctness. EVERYBODY KNOWS that we are all victims of bullies and we will be for a lifetime. We still fear man and the man with power determines how intense that fear will be. EVERBODY KNOWS that bullying is intergenerational and for it to go away, which it never will it is not about the 20% of kids who bully right now in our schools, communities and families it is about what they become as adults.
All incoming information must pass through the emotions before it can reach the neo-cortex for processing. As the brain is placed under stress the need for survival becomes greater. It then downshifts into the stem. There are only two ways it can survive ------ FIGHT OR FLIGHT. A person with the FIGHT mentality will develop conduct problems. A person with the FLIGHT mentality develops clinical problems.Conduct problems require respect, Clinical problems require responsibility
Ten Great Anti Bullying Tips That You Can Use Right Away To Make a Difference In Your Classroom
T - 1
SOME THINGS ARE RIGHT OR WRONG; BLACK OR WHITE. NO GRAY AREA. BULLYING IS ONE OF THEM
I guess everyone has reasons for doing or saying certain things and behaving in ways that are hurtful, disrespectful, irresponsible and just downright inappropriate. Understanding these reasons help us as teachers set reasonable expectations for our students. The problems begin when these reasons become excuses. When student behaviors such as disrespect and emotional cruelty are attributed to poor genetics, or environmental short comings are left uncorrected, by default we communicate to the student that we agree with the behavior. Disrespect is not a condition it is a learned behavior, and students must be held accountable for their actions. Bullying should never be justified or excused because of poor genetics or negative environmental influences. Respect can always be taught with the imposition of the right consequences. Always let your students know that BULLYING IS WRONG AND IT WILL NOT BE TOLERATED!
T – 2 IS OBEDIENCE A DIRTY WORD?
I had to change my vocabulary. I used to say that kids needed to be obedient; now I use the word compliance. Teachers didn’t like it, thought it was too much like dog training. I mean we expect dogs to obey right, well mine doesn’t but that’s another story. So I watered it down, comply sounds better than obey. I compromised myself. I know they mean the same thing right? Wrong. What is the definition of obedience………….Anybody? Let me help you out. Obedience: Doing what you are told, when you are told to do it, with a good attitude. Our students can comply in many ways but still lack the correct attitude and timing. Ask one of your students’ to sit down and determine if he sat down on his terms or yours. How long did it take him/her to get into his seat? Oh, he complied but when and how is still the question. Compliance can also be very temporary. Obedience is very permanent. I don’t have to keep asking; wouldn’t it be nice to ask a kid to do something, and have him/her just do it? Bullies comply all the time, but in a very temporary way. Permanence comes when our demands are met when we make them and when the student has the right attitude. I left the NJ Turnpike one day and saw a sign that said, “You have left the NJ Turnpike Obey Local Speed Laws.” I guess obedience is not such a dirty word after all.
T – 3
STOP ASKING – START TELLING
Asking a student questions is a good thing. It gives you as the teacher an idea of the student’s knowledge base, and at the high school level what his/her views might be on different topics. So questions are good unless you are asking for something that has an obvious answer. Then you are not asking questions you are telling the student to do something and giving him/her a command. Often we can fall into the trap of asking somewhere, when, and why questions to students. Things like; “Why are you late? Where is your pencil? Or, when are you going to sit down, either don’t matter or require a consequence for being tardy, unprepared, or non-compliant. It can be as innocent as stating “We are going to do math now, okay.” When we should be saying, “Take out your math book and turn to page…” Bullies love to do what they want when they want to. So, for the obvious stop asking and start telling.
T - 4THEY JUST DON’ T KNOW
Trying to explain to a child or even at times an adult the reason whys or why not’s that are related to certain behaviors can at times can be frustrating and with our own children can be frightening. Don’t drink and drive, don’t smoke; watch who you pick as a friend or who you date are all things that teachers and parents communicate to their students and their children. In school kids are always asking why we have to do something, or learn certain academic skills. Bullying behavior can have a lasting effect on those who experience social, emotional, or physical abuse at the hands of a bully. Why don’t kids and bullies in particular head the warning of adults and just listen and stop saying and doing things that are just down right cruel? The reason; many of our children today were never taught to obey so they don’t have a vision in terms of the long range consequence for what they do and often what they say, and many times just don’t care. Consequences I might add that could cost them as an adult. Remember all we are looking for is a kid to do what he is told, when he is told to do it. Three military men were walking across the huge flight deck of an aircraft carrier. Suddenly, a commanding officer yelled out to them, "Drop!" Two of the men immediately fell on the deck. The third man turned around to see what was happening and was instantly killed by an incoming airplane. All three men heard the same word; however, only two of them understood what they heard and obeyed the command. Recognizing and immediately obeying the voice of the commanding officer proved to be a matter of life and death for these men. Help your students understand that there does not have to be a reason right now why they have to just do what they are told. Hopefully the bully will change before his life is effected, or worse yet the life of someone else.
T – 5
WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO
MR., MRS., AND MS.?
My youngest daughter was leaving a friend’s house one day and I heard her say “Bye Barbara, Bye Lenny.” When she got in the car I asked her who are Barbara and Lenny. She replied that’s Kelly’s parents. My response was “so, why don’t you call them Mr. and Mrs. Jones?” (Name Change) She replied, “Oh dad they don’t care.” Well I did, and so I went into the house and asked the dad to please be sure that my daughter addresses him and his wife as Mr. and Mrs. The response from the dad was “Oh, it’s no big deal she can call us by our first name.” My answer “Okay, how about Mr. Lenny.” He agreed. Why was I even having this conversation? Because everyone believes that the ground is level. I hear teachers all the time when they speak with parents referring to themselves by their first name. “Hi, Mrs. Brown, this is Jim Burns, Johnny’s teacher.” Forget it. You are Mr., Mrs., or Ms. refer to yourself that way when speaking to parents, students, and even yes, your fellow teachers when in earshot of your students. Our students need to know that we are in charge and will be addressed with respect, so do the parents. Teaching is a noble profession. Don’t diminish your position by being addressed by a name other than Mr., Mrs., or Ms.
T – 6 KIDS NEED TO LEARN HOW TO COOPERATE EVEN THOUGH THEY MIGHT DISAGREE
Does this tip have anything to do with bullying? The answer might surprise you. Kids who have not been taught that they have a responsibility to comply with the rules of a family, a school, or society believe that they can say and do what they want. One of the highest forms of maturity is the ability to cooperate even though you might disagree. Bullies lack empathy and are never in tune with the expectations of others. Begin to hold kids accountable for non-compliance, and start to discipline for a poor attitude and insist on cooperation. Remember kids don’t always have to agree just cooperate.
T – 7
TEACH YOUR STUDENTS THAT IT IS OK TO DISAGREE. BUT, WITH THE RIGHT ATTITUDE
Hmm. Now it's okay to disagree. Well kids are going to whether we like it or not. Giving your students a voice helps to reduce anger. The idea here is that attitude is everything. To often kids when they disagree will personalize the disagreement resulting in name calling or the berating of others. Often bullies will use their power to force their victim into submission. Teaching students the right way to disagree with each other builds confidence, boundaries, and maturity. It helps both the bully and the victim.
T – 8 THE ART OF FORGIVENESS. Have you ever forced two students to shake hands after a disagreement? You know their heart just wasn’t in it. Don’t stop asking for that hand shake. It is symbolic of the inward attitude you as the teacher are trying to develop in those two students. It is very difficult for victims to forgive, but an angry victim may only seek revenge at a later time on his own. Bullies need to learn how to ask for forgiveness, victims need to accept it. We can be an example by asking for and receiving forgiveness ourselves.
T – 9 TEACH CHARACTER
Character is truly far more important than achievement. Theodore Roosevelt once said, “To educate a person in the mind but not in morals is to educate a menace to society.” Teaching character is something that we all attempt to do, but because of lock-step lesson planning and curriculum time lines, we never seem to have the freedom to correctly work on this important topic in our classrooms. Sometimes there is more caught then taught. So, make the time to discuss situations that involve lying, stealing, cheating, bullying, bad mouthing, etc. Search for character education programs and lesson plans, and make the time so you can force it into your day or your week. Do your best, and remember, your main focus is respect and responsibility.
T – 10 KEEP IT SIMPLE We have all heard of the acronym KISS; keep it simple stupid. Sometimes we as educators can be bombarded by so many new programs and philosophies that we feel as if we are lost in the sauce and don’t know what to do. If you are taking classes at a college, you know what I mean. Every semester is another class with another approach to improving student performance or managing behavior. The classes are all great I am sure, but finding what works best can be a challenge. When Character Education programs became mandated about ten years ago teachers found themselves trying to teach a new character quality every week, which certainly was a great idea. One quality a week can be a bit much, and I question whether or not the students really learned the quality in this short period of time. In dealing with bullying, let’s keep it simple, and focus on two qualities. Stick with it day to day and week to week. Teach respect, and encourage responsibility. Every student will benefit ,and you will begin to take the necessary steps toward stopping the bullying problem in your school.
Like These Tips? Want More? Go to www.bullyproofclassroom.com and order your copy of “Anti Bullying 101” To get 101 Anti Bullying Tips.