Respect Takes Wings
birdchildIn Bird Child, the beautiful newcomer by Canadian author Nan Forler, little Eliza has a wise mom who has gifted her with a lifelong skill: “wings to fly,” including the ability to see solutions to situations and choices for conflicts. Her mantra? “Look down and see what is. Now look up and see what can be.” So when Lainey, the new student, is targeted by a group of bullies, Eliza finds a way to help Lainey and show her how to imagine the possibilities and be all that she can be. Eliza stands up for her new friend and helps put an end to the bullying behaviors.

This book will serve as a springboard for our respect lesson and discussion about this year’s focus – Be A Buddy, Not A Bully. Research suggests that new students are the most likely target for bullies. How would Lainey’s school experience have been different if Eliza had done nothing to help? What about if Eliza had joined in on the teasing? Give specific examples of how Eliza befriended Lainey? Was anyone else in the book an ally or upstander? Who were the bystanders? What could they have done differently? Ask students to talk about a time they’ve been in a bullying situation, either as the bully, the target or the bystander. What common feelings come out?

The book’s title just dares me to dance with the students, so we’re going to end our lesson with The Chicken Dance using these lyrics:

Chorus (4X): If a bully bothers you, and you don’t know what to do, out at recess or in school, talk, walk, then tell.
Verse: I’ll be a buddy, not a bully. I’ll be a friend and take a stand. I can swarm or go get a grown up so we can lend a helping hand.

Thumb-body Special

fingercaterpillarOur respect pillar encourages us to “be tolerant of differences” which I like to take a step further and promote “celebrating differences!” Nothing shows that we are all unique better than a finger or thumb print. Start by asking students what “You’re Thumb-body Special” might mean. Do they agree? Discuss, then let them show and tell you what qualities, talents, or skills make them special, different, and unique. Talk about how every single person has a slightly different fingerprint and how they’re used for identification purposes. Let your discussion lead into a fingerprint art activity like the cute caterpillar shown above. You can even use their thumbprints to “sign” your classroom promises to each other, social contracts, or class rules. Refer back to this idea throughout the year when conflicts arise by simply saying, “Remember the thumbprint?”

The Bully Machine

goodbyebullymachineBullying-Prevention Experts Allan L. Beane and Debbie Fox have teamed up to create an amazing anti-bullying resource entitled Good-Bye Bully Machine, a must for every classroom and library. In their clever creation, the Bully Machine, fueled by mean words and cruel actions, chomps and rumbles its way through life, gaining power as it goes. And how do we break a Bully Machine? Check out this book for tips and strategies that will reinforce the concept of respect and empower your little leaders to say, “Good-Bye Bully Machine” to the people with bullying behaviors in their lives. Gain insight about bullies, bystanders, and allies in this treasure. Download a free leader’s guide from Free Spirit Publishing for enrichment and follow-up activities, including practicing “I” messages, then watch what happens in your Bully-Free School.


yin_yangLooking for more RESPECT pillar activity quickies? Click here to see some super suggestions from South Dakota’s 4-H Extension. Though it states that these might be used in the upper grades, I also see great potential for use with our littlest learners as it’s never too early to infuse the message of respect into the hearts of our children.

Ask students to illustrate RESPECT with words in an acrostic poem or with pictures that represent the pillar to them. When we did this at Westwood, our students drew rainbows, peace signs, happy faces, and yin yangs. Let their imaginations be their guide; I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised as what they create. Post them on a Radiating Respect bulletin board as a visual reminder of how they’re going to treat one another in class this year.

Manners Matter

mannersSometimes we assume (or hope!) that our students will come to us with a certain skill set, manners included. But truthfully, manners don’t always come naturally nor do they always transfer over automatically from one setting to another. The expectations about manners aren’t always universal, either. What manners matter at your school? Why not use the TEAM approach and Teach, Enforce, Advocate for, and Model those.

A few books that come to mind where manners are concerned are: Mind Your Manners in School by Arianna Candell, Mind Your Manners BB Wolf by Judy Sierra, Manners by Aliki, Please Is a Good Words to Say by Barbara Joose, Please Say Please by Margery Cuyler, and Emily’s Everyday Manners by Peggy Post & Cindy Post Senning.