“Ok, smart guy. What would YOU do if YOU were the principal here?” This was a question posed to me by a principal just before I performed my reACT to Bullying presentation at his school. Truth be told, the principal and I had taught together previously, so he wasn’t afraid to cut to the chase as we sat eating lunch together.
His school was a junior/senior high school that had considerable problems with discipline, student morale, etc. Their academic achievements and extracurricular programs were actually achieving at a relatively high level, but something seemed to be “off,” as he put it. He had cut to the chase earlier, so I thought I would do the same. This was my response:
“I’m about to challenge your school to do the opposite of bullying; then YOU must raise them up — in a big way.”
What he had shared with me earlier was that he and his fellow administrators and teachers spent so much time in punitive mode — essentially exhausting themselves punishing everything from rudeness all the way to bullying. This, I told him, was exactly what I thought he and his faculty and staff would be doing five years from now if they kept doing what they were doing.
“What IS the opposite of bullying?” he asked. “Kindness,” I responded. During my program, I share concrete examples of students of every age deciding to perform acts of kindness, great and small. I’ve learned an abstract statement like “be nice to each other” simply isn’t enough. Show them kids, like them, doing specific acts. Most everyone is familiar with the term, “random acts of kindness.” Sometimes encouraging kindness is as simple as teaching kids HOW to be kind.
Soon, I told him, someone at his school will give it a shot. “And when they do,” I shared, “lift them up — in a big, big, way.”
That was two months ago. His most recent email to me was three words — “Genuine, steady change.” I’m a blessed man.
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