Last week, schools around the country observed the eighth annual No Name-Calling Week. Lead by GLSEN (the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network), Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing and Barnes & Noble, dozens of organizations joined the cause to create safe schools by campaigning to eliminate name-calling and other verbal harassment.
Schools encouraged positive messages and led discussions on the effects of name-calling. The No Name-Calling website includes a kit available for order and additional online resources. One supporter, the National Education Association, shared information about the week and links to other resources on their website.
From all the local news articles, the week appeared a roaring success. But we think No Name-Calling, should be not a week, but a year-round commitment to eliminating verbal harassment. We think that supporting great role models at recess is a start.
A role model can go a long way on the school yard. Adults or students, they lead by example with their actions and words. They give the most high fives and notice the best in every student's play. When students need feedback, every critique comes with praise. Role models are careful to speak with person-first language–always acknowledging others by name, not their qualities. All these actions encourage the youth to follow suit–sending positive messages instead of name-calling.
Adults on the playground are the seeds of good role modelling. They can explicitly teach students to give high fives to their teammates AND opponents. They encourage students to offer a “good job!” or “nice try!” to their classmates. And students can be taught to cheer for their peers by acknowledging their hard work, for example in a game of kickball: “Way to run your fastest! You nearly beat the ball to first base!”
Adults on the playground don't need to take over a playground to stop bullying. They only to speak up during teachable moments and to lead by example to end the harassment. We believe it takes a great role model to end name-calling.
We'd love to hear how adults and students at your schools are making the playgrounds free of verbal harassment and bullying….How are they setting an example as role models?