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School name-calling: 15 tips for eliminating bullying

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No sticks. No stones. No dissing. That’s the motto for No Name-Calling Week, a project inspired by The Misfits, a young adult novel written by popular author James Howe. The book tells the story of four friends who grow tired of being constantly teased in middle school and decide to run for student council on a no name-calling platform. Inspired by this idea, GLSEN and Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing created the No Name-Calling Week Coalition, which now consists of over 50 national partnering organizations. In March 2004, the coalition organized the first No Name-Calling Week in schools across the nation. Since then the project has gained thousands of supporters who believe in its cause, which is to end name-calling of all kinds and provide schools with the tools and inspiration to launch an ongoing dialogue about ways to eliminate bullying in their communities. As someone who has seen close family members suffer from the effects of bullying, I was thrilled to learn about this project and how I can participate. While it originally began in middle schools, the NNCW project has since been extended from kindergarten through twelfth grade because all students can benefit from learning how to be more understanding of one another and how to address name-calling and bullying. Would you and your students like to participate in this powerful project? Here are 15 ways you can make the eighth annual No Name-Calling Week meaningful in your school or classroom:

No sticks. No stones. No dissing. That’s the motto for No Name-Calling Week, a project inspired by The Misfits, a young adult novel written by popular author James Howe. The book tells the story of four friends who grow tired of being constantly teased in middle school and decide to run for student council on a no name-calling platform.

Inspired by this idea, GLSEN and Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing created the No Name-Calling Week Coalition, which now consists of over 50 national partnering organizations. In March 2004, the coalition organized the first No Name-Calling Week in schools across the nation. Since then the project has gained thousands of supporters who believe in its cause, which is to end name-calling of all kinds and provide schools with the tools and inspiration to launch an ongoing dialogue about ways to eliminate bullying in their communities.

As someone who has seen close family members suffer from the effects of bullying, I was thrilled to learn about this project and how I can participate. While it originally began in middle schools, the NNCW project has since been extended from kindergarten through twelfth grade because all students can benefit from learning how to be more understanding of one another and how to address name-calling and bullying.

Would you and your students like to participate in this powerful project? Here are 15 ways you can make the eighth annual No Name-Calling Week meaningful in your school or classroom:

  1. Have students create essays, poetry, music, original artwork, or other creative pieces to convey their experiences and feelings about name-calling. They can even enter their pieces in the NNCW 2011 Creative Expression Contest. Entries are due by February 28, 2011.
  2. Perform role plays, including ones that highlight the role of bystander and his or her responsibility to the target of name-calling or bullying. Then discuss the harmful effects of name-calling.
  3. Include anti-bullying messages in the morning announcements throughout the week.
  4. Host a “Mix-It-Up Day” lunch for students. Have older students organize the mixed-up seating and facilitate discussion with the diverse group of their peers seated at the tables. Follow up with a student survey to see how the activities went.
  5. Design a showcase that contains pictures about how it feels to be called names and how it feels to be a friend.
  6. Have students create posters that encourage no name-calling and positive communication between students, then display them around the school.
  7. Have music classes perform a well-known melody with rewritten lyrics that fit in with anti-bullying themes.
  8. Have students present daily positive messages.
  9. Share a word of the day that deals with bullying or name-calling.
  10. Make “Stomp Out Name-Calling" posters and hang shoes from the ceiling for the week.
  11. Have students design their own pins or stickers that they can wear the rest of the week.
  12. Have students listen to things that are being said in the hall, write them down, then create a story or poem about them.
  13. Ask students to create name-tags with their given name to remind everyone to call people what they ask to be called, not other names.
  14. Have students sign a pledge to stop name-calling, then make bracelets to wear as a reminder of their commitment.
  15. As a class, decorate your classroom door to express thoughts about how to reduce and prevent antisocial behaviors.
And a bonus one! I especially liked this idea from one of the counselors at Weigand Avenue Elementary School in Los Angeles, California:
I did a presentation on name calling with a cut out of a boy. Students were selected to come up and tease the boy. Each time they did, a piece of the boy was ripped up. We had a great discussion about the effects of people's mean words, as well as disabilities, skin color, socio-economic status. Next, students came up and tried to put him back together with kind words. We then made a friendship chain. Students wrote on a strip of paper two ways in which they could help someone who is being teased, and we linked them together with the other classes.
All of these ideas and more can be found at the No Name-Calling Week website, www.nonamecallingweek.org, or as part of the curriculum offered there. You’ll also find a variety of lesson plans specifically for elementary, middle, and high school students, as well as resources for planning and promoting anti-bullying activities in your area.

We hope this week is a positive one for you and your students and look forward to hearing what you do to join in the campaign to stop dissing.

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