Move Beyond Bully-Free
A Family of Learners is absolutely a bully-free zone, but it is also so much more! Students gain the confidence that they will never be picked on or put down in The Total Positive Energy Zone. They also have the important added benefit of being well supported and encouraged by all of their classmates.
Nobody can convince me that there is such a thing as a bad kid! There are tough kids. There are bullies. Even these children, the most difficult ones, are not truly bad children. These are children that have been hurt. They’ve learned to protect themselves by creating a sense of fear in others. They are driven by the premise that if they build a reputation of being the meanest or the toughest kids, it will keep others from bullying them.
Their theory is tried and true. As bullies, these children gain the comfort of knowing they won’t be picked on. They become surrounded by other children who would rather be with them than against them. What these bullies lack is all of the joys that true friendship brings. They haven’t earned friends and they don’t have them. They simply have followers.
Teachers who unwittingly allow this situation to exist and build within a classroom have students who are deeply distracted from learning. Classrooms are demanding environments. Learning targets are rigorous. Students who are unable to apply their full attention toward achieving academic success certainly have the odds stacked against them. If students don’t get along and support each other in building academic success, very few students will accomplish meaningful learning gains.
The good news is that bullies are not truly bad children. If the teacher takes the time to teach students that the classroom is a total positive energy zone, even the toughest bully will quickly transform into a kind and productive student. The toughest students have become tough for a reason. They become tough to protect themselves. These students usually require two to three weeks of observing that the teacher positively and consistently maintains the Total Positive Energy Zone.
Once these students witness that the classroom is a completely safe environment, an environment in which all members view each other positively, their tough exteriors will melt away leaving little or no evidence that they ever existed. I have had the incredible joy of witnessing these previously tough students transform incredibly quickly. Many of them even become adept at coaching their classmates to stay positive.
These students were very unhappy while wearing their tough exteriors. Once they begin feeling the comfort of true friendship, trust and collaboration, they start recognizing their true value. With this, they also recognize value in others. These children gain a support system. Sadly, they were previously unaware such a system existed.
Their potential awakens and broadens. Instead of spending energy finding weaknesses in others and bringing people down, they quickly turn their energy to focusing on and appreciating the strengths of others. They truly become able to help drive the elevation of the entire class.
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