One way school librarians can make important connections, help classroom colleagues, and support students is by helping administrators, counselors, and others in their quest for effective programs, excellent research, and strategies for administering their schools. Purchasing and maintaining a professional library – and making sure that administrators and other staff know its content (and borrow borrow borrow!) – is an excellent way to get conversations going.
Starting this month, I will be looking at books that pop out as useful for us to consider for our professional libraries – and excellent for sharing with our adult population: parents, counselors, nurses, administrators, teachers, and staff. Let’s start with a topic that is seemingly difficult to deal with: bullying, be it physical or online.
Nancy Willard, Director of Embrace Civility, has written a new book aimed at parents, but it’s well worth a look by all educators. Titled “Support and Empower Your Bullied Child: A Guide for Parents,” this book outlines ways parents can empower kids to embrace their own resiliency and gives them strategies to use under difficult circumstances. It also gives parents questions to ask their school and outlines how to follow up when they are unsure of how to respond or support their own children.
School librarians can have this book in their back pocket to check out to parents, counselors, and administrators. The strategy that I really like, that can be translated easily to all kinds of situations, is called “Think Things Through,” which takes the concept of “Take 5” (“Take 5 minutes” or “Take 5 deep breaths”) before responding to a hurtful situation. “Think Things Through” gives us questions we can ask ourselves when targeted – or when we think we want to target someone else – that might help us respond better. It includes actions that are positive and work toward resolving the whole problem. School librarian instruction already uses strategies like this; now parents can join in to create a community-wide conversation that honors us all by acknowledging hard times, strong feelings, and hurtful actions. It gives us food for thought on restitution, restorative justice…and holding our collective feet to the fire as a school to commit to fixing this problem.
Most of us in education have attended many professional development courses over the years to teach us how to help stop bullying in school. However, it seems that nothing much is really happening. Just as we think we are getting it right – and we have active positive campus groups, speakers, and faculty/admin-backed support – we are blindsided by a student who reports continued harassment and blatant intimidation whether on campus or in our own classrooms. Further investigation shows that there are others. And we go back to square one.
Most bullying at school flies under the radar; adult eyes don’t or can’t see it happening–legs that thrust out of desks designed to trip, pushing in the hall, online notes or images hidden away. How can we adults help our kids navigate their growing world, helping those who become targets, those who intimidate or bully, and those who stand by?
We can do so by linking with parents and colleagues, holding those conversations, and following up with actions that build a school-wide program that supports student confidence.
Take a look at this book; grab one for your professional library and several to hand out to your school counselors, district policy making committees, and your administration.
Then take a look at the professional development resources Nancy offers to districts and schools: Empower Students to Embrace Civility. Working as a team to develop community-wide norms of behavior, a common language for speaking about our thoughts, feelings, and actions, and a path to make amends should things not go well goes a long way to creating a great school climate where all students know that they can safely be the unique individuals they are.
Author: Connie Williams
NBCTeacher Librarian and author of “Understanding Government Information: a Teaching Strategy Toolkit for grades 7-12”. Member of the CA State Library Services Board, Adjunct Librarian /Santa Rosa Junior College & On-Call Librarian with Sonoma County Library. She welcomes all conversation.. give a holler!
Nancy Willard loves to collaborate with educators in the development process. She and I collaborated together on an approach to foster positive behavior when using digital technologies in classes both in elementary school and high school. Nancy promotes an approach that is grounded in positive social norms — understanding that the vast majority of students have good values and want to make the best choices. We all strive to ensure students gain the insight and skills to engage in safe and responsible online behavior.