How would you plan to promote, model and establish policies for safe, legal, and ethical use of digital information and technology?
As access to technology increases, both inside and outside of school settings, the issue of cyberbullying is becoming much more common, and sadly sometimes more difficult for a school to see (Responding to Cyberbullying). What makes cyberbullying so different than traditional bullying, is that it can occur at any time, at any place, and the students involved can be thousands of miles away from one another (What is Cyberbullying). Due to so much of the cyberbullying issue taking place outside of school grounds, it can be a difficult subject for schools to monitor and police without it being brought to their attention. However, there has seemed to be a change in recent years in how schools are treating this issue. Once being reactive in nature, schools are starting to take a much more proactive stance with cyberbullying by trying to stop it before it happens. One way schools are doing this is taking climate surveys of every grade throughout the district. Though these surveys often ask a wide arrange of questions, they are also beginning to include questions about online activity and actions to try and get a better understanding of the online culture within their community (School Climate 1 and 2). I think a great way to start the year in a new room is to have your own climate questionnaire based around online use and cyberbullying. The results can be immediate to your student population and you can start to get a better understanding of what your students may go through on a daily basis.
When it comes to creating a positive school climate, I think there are several techniques or methods a school and enact to try and stem the actions of bullying. One of these techniques that I have seen to be very powerful firsthand, and then also through academic reading on the subject, is the use of the film, Bully. On the Facing History and Ourselves website, the organization offers lessons and techniques to utilize the movie Bully, to try and create an empathetic student body towards all students (Using Bully in the Classroom). Now being a 7th grade teacher, I would prefer to use the edited version of the movie as the full length film does delve into extremely sensitive and upsetting topics that I do not wish to overwhelm the students with. I believe using the shortened version will allow students to still have access to the meaning of the movie, without being so upset to shut them down. I believe this lesson for a middle school setting is a powerful way for students to see the real impacts bullying on other students has. Though the movie may not truly focus on the topic of cyberbullying, I believe the message and impact the movie has too great to not utilize it as a source, and can still be connected to cyberbullying without much of a stretch.
In regards to a personal step, I would be interested in learning more about the workshops offered by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) that tackle many of the issues brought about by the use of technology by students. A workshop such as, “Trickery, Trolling and Threats: Understanding and Addressing Cyberbullying,” or, “Cyberbullying: Focus on the Legal Issues,” would greatly improve my ability to possibly get ahead of certain issues within my classroom, but also better equip me to handle these issues once they arise (Responding to Cyberbullying). Combined with the ADL, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) also has numerous resources available through Teaching Tolerance, and their Responding to Hate and Bias “mini-section” on bullying. The unit takes you through different scenarios and steps to take before, during, or after a bullying event occurs. Again, resources such as these I believe would greatly strengthen my ability to increase safety and proper online use in my classroom.
Anti-Defamation League (2013). Responding to Cyberbullying. http://archive.adl.org/education/cyberbullying/#.V-xMkq3KvTg
Connecticut State Department of Education (2012). CT School Climate Assessment Instrument Elementary/Middle School Date: _____. Retrieved from http://www.sde.ct.gov/sde/lib/sde/pdf/equity/CSCAI_ELEM_MS_5_2012.pdf
Connecticut State Department of Education (2012). Ct School Climate Assessment Instrument Middle/ High School Date: _____. Retrieved from http://www.sde.ct.gov/sde/lib/sde/pdf/equity/CSCAI_MS_HS_5_2012.pdf
Facing History and Ourselves (2013). Using Bully in the Classroom: Address issues of ostracism, bullying, and upstander behavior using the movie, “Bully.”. https://www.facinghistory.org/using-bully-classroom
Southern Poverty Law Center- Teaching Tolerance (2016). Responding to Hate and Bias at School. http://www.tolerance.org/publication/responding-hate-and-bias-school
Stopbullying.gov. What is Cyberbullying? http://www.stopbullying.gov/cyberbullying/what-is-it/index.html