Check Rosalind's Classroom Conversations each month for the latest installment. Read the current issue: Obedience, Pledges and the Real Work of Building Credibility.
Each month Rosalind Wiseman, best selling book author and bullying prevention specialist, will join forces with ADL to provide this timely resource for educators. Rosalind’s Classroom Conversations includes features on bullying, current events and the social and emotional development of children.
Rosalind Wiseman is a teacher, thought leader, author and media spokesperson on bullying prevention, ethical leadership, the use of social media and media literacy. She is the author of Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and the New Realities of Girl World—the groundbreaking, best-selling book that was the basis for the movie Mean Girls. Her latest books, Masterminds & Wingmen: Helping Our Boys Cope with Schoolyard Power, Locker-Room Tests, Girlfriends, and the New Rules of Boy World was published in September 2013. She also writes the monthly “Ask Rosalind” column in Family Circle magazine, and is a regular contributor to several blogs and websites.
“Boys are easy and girls are hard.”
It’s one of the most common things we say about children and I’ve come to believe it’s one of the most damaging.
A few days before I started sixth grade at a private school, I went with my mother to buy uniforms. While she beamed, I miserably pulled the green and white striped dress over my head. I clearly remember the looks from people when I wore that uniform in “public.” It felt like I had a sign above my head that said, “I’m rich and a snob.”
I was in the middle of a presentation to three hundred middle schoolers when a boy’s arm shot straight up so desperately that I thought it would separate from his body. I stopped, midsentence. Clearly this child had something incredibly important to ask and I just couldn’t ignore him.
Me: What’s your question?
Boy: Are you Xbox or Playstation? (I froze, realizing the magnitude of the question. Three hundred boys looked at me with bated breath.)
Apologies require the highest level of human capacity—mindful self-reflection and the ability to acknowledge another person’s experience. If that isn’t hard enough, it often requires putting ourselves in a position of vulnerability—often to the person to whom we are apologizing.
One of the things that can be scary about teaching is the possibility that our students won’t engage or relate to what we’re trying to teach. All educators face this reality, but those of us who do bullying prevention programs are particularly at risk. You know why? Because after fourth grade, many students are tired of listening to adults lecture them about bullying and believe adults aren’t realistic about the problem or the solutions.
- I hate how people keep getting into my business and judging me before they talk to me and find out the real story. “Michael”, age 16
- It doesn’t matter what people say. Sure, someone’s reputation gets trashed for a few weeks but then the gossip moves on to someone else. “Ana”, age 14
We have a responsibility to our students to acknowledge a glaring double standard that’s happening way more than we want to admit: Adults abuse technology and get away with it.
The realization came upon me gradually, that is until it hit me over the head. In casual conversations, I noticed that more and more, girls were telling me they liked playing FPS (First Person Shooter) games.
How do we get young people to take ownership of what they do that contributes to someone else’s humiliation, social exclusion or dehumanization? How do we create a learning environment that allows for self-reflection and honest discussion? And, even more difficult, how do we do that in school environments that don’t support respectful relationships between teachers and students or have superficial anti-bullying programs that few students take seriously?
What do you do if you if think you hear one of your students make a racist, homophobic or sexist remark? Or more difficult, what if you hear it or think you hear it, but you’re not absolutely sure who said it?