New job allows time to tackle important issues
I am excited to tell everyone that I have a new position with the Loyal School District. Starting July 1, I will be the full-time 4K-6th grade principal and the Director of Instruction. This change in duties means that I will have more time to delve deeper into issues that impact students, staff, and parents. Already one item has drawn my attention: bullying.
When I was an elementary student, we did not have access to technology like students do today. Nonetheless, having someone make fun of your last name or insult your father because of his occupation hurt a lot. The kids bothering me were careful not to do this in front of any adults and while my parents supported me, their solution was to be tough and ignore them. Because of this, I grew up working really hard to do things well so that no one would have a reason to pick on me. When I had my own children, I wanted to be supportive like my parents, but I also didn’t want them to feel like it was okay to let anyone pick on them. Over their years at school I reminded them of their value and I also went to school to speak to teachers so that they were aware of what was happening to my children. During this time, I was also going to college to be a teacher. At times, I wish that there had been a college class that gave me good techniques about how to make children appreciate the unique qualities of their classmates. Unfortunately, that wasn’t part of the curriculum so I have had to rely instead on the values that my parents instilled in me as I grew up. Now I am a principal and I have students and parents who are still dealing with this same problem; so how do we stop these behaviors that are often referred to as bullying?
There are many definitions of bullying so it helps if we can all start from the same place. The website stopbullying. gov has the one that I like the best. It states, “Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated over time.” These behaviors can be verbal, social, or physical. Because of my own experience, I try very hard to help students and parents work through their concerns. What I hope is that we can always work together to create a positive environment for the children so that they can do their job, which is to learn.
Today some things that are adding new elements to this problem are adults who are practicing these behaviors and the access students have to social media sites that don’t restrict their conversations. Teachers have a special job in this solution. Not only do they teach content to their students, they teach so much more through their actions. This is why it is so important to remember that as role models, teachers have to live up to higher expectations.
Then there is the internet. It is a fabulous resource for educators. While students are at school, they research, play math games, and create projects. All of these are life-long skills that they will use again, but I have many students who come to me about comments that are made on social media sites like Instagram and Tik Tok. Saying negative things to someone online is even easier than saying that same thing in person. The students who come to me are upset and I wish I could do more to help them. These media sites are not something they can access on school resources, so I don’t have a way to check everything that is being said. I am sure that parents feel this same frustration since all you want is for your children to be happy. This is where I hope we can all work together. There have been a couple of parents who have reached out to me about how we can work together to do a better job helping the children. I agree that this is important, and if you would be interested in helping me to set up some parent meetings about this issue, please let me know. My hope is that by working together we can create an even better environment for the students of the Loyal School District.