Think There’s Nothing We Can Do About Name-Calling? Think Again.

This post was originally published on Pass the Chalk.

It’s no secret that bullying (be it at school, on the playground, or online) is a huge barrier to kids’ wellness and achievement. The data is grim, particularly for LGBT students of color or from low-income backgrounds.

The problem is clear, but the solution is murky. One big step in the right direction, however, is talking about it—more than once, and in a way that’s accessible and engaging to students. I know, I know, small task, right?

As a teacher, I’ve observed too many examples of bullying without having the tools needed to discuss and unpack this behavior with students. As my kiddos’ teacher, nothing hurts more than to be at a loss when one student causes hurt to another.

The GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network) and its national partners are helping remedy this with No Name-Calling Week, running Jan. 20-24.

The campaign is inspired by James Howe’s awesome book The Misfits (which, if you teach middle-schoolers, you definitely need in your reading library or classroom, STAT!). Howe tells the story of a group of self-proclaimed “misfits” who start a No Name-Calling Day at their school. The campaign’s title does a fine job explaining its goal.

The No Name-Calling Week website offers a wealth of indispensable resources that run the K-12 gamut. There are enough activities, projects, writing assignments, and lesson plans to satisfy even the pickiest pedagogical needs.

Have an administration that’s subliminally or even overtly homophobic? No problem. One of the solid design components of No Name-Calling Week is its focus on the problem itself, and how to solve it. The lesson plans on the website are impactful, but also low-risk if the educational environment is less-than-desirable for LGBTQ students or staff.

Teach For America’s S.A.F.E. Classrooms site also has a variety of resources (created in collaboration with GLSEN and The Trevor Project) that anyone can use in their work to make their classroom a safer space.

As an LGBT teacher who has struggled integrating anti-bullying curriculum into my classroom, I think my favorite part of the campaign is the sheer adaptability of its resources.

You can tie almost all of the assignments to state/Common Core standards, all while developing the moral and social development those standards don’t touch.

One week a year certainly isn’t going to end bullying as we know it in our schools. Yet this event acts as a good launching pad for further discussion, with the website offering sufficient resources for longer-term work.

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