In my article “School Bus Bullying? Look Who’s Taking Responsibility and Who’s Not” on Tuesday I reacted to the social uproar that attended the horror story of four seventh graders cruelly and mercilessly mocking a 68-year old bus monitor. Now that emotions have settled a bit from the initial shock, what becomes clear?
“I Am Not the Only One”
In the autumn of 1974, in my first year as school principal, a kind and gentle fifth grader named Davion was having trouble with some of the other boys in the class. In particular, Jeremy was becoming increasingly intimidating. The teachers intervened anytime they saw an incident. Jeremy had already been sent to my office once, and the teachers were beginning to talk to me about him. We felt that bullying was going on, but saw very few punishable offenses.
One day, Davion’s mother—a kind, thoughtful, single parent —came to my office to complain about Jeremy. Continue reading
The Tibetan Fair, one of the great musical/cultural/spiritual events of the year, was just starting up on a beautiful spring day at Live Oak Park in Berkeley, California. As Matt approached he could feel the rhythms reshaping him.
His pace slowed, and he finally stopped ten feet from the Tibetan welcome table piled high with flags, goods, clothing and literature. He just listened and let the music transport him. Continue reading
Late in the fall two middle school teachers came to my office with a dilemma: “We don’t want to be guilty of grade inflation, but the grading system isn’t fair. Sara, for instance, works really hard. She always does her homework and participates in class. She is actually a great student, but she is math-phobic. She keeps failing her tests. We don’t know what to do.”
I asked, “Well, you say she is a great student. What does that look like? What does ‘participates in class’ look like?”
“She’s just great at working with others.”
“Yes, but what does that look like? If we can describe it we can measure it, if we can measure it, we can grade it.”
“Well, she builds on other people’s ideas…” Continue reading
How can we get our children to behave? Simple: Parent like the great conductors. Itay Talgam shows us how it’s done in his TED talk “Lead like the Great Conductors.” Simple, but not necessarily easy. Bob’s story about how his five-year-old son resolved a conflict gives us a vision of what the result can look like.
How to get kids to do their homework?
Last night a mother told me that one of the most important things I taught her was: “Don’t get mad; get even.”
“Really?” I replied. (I mean, that doesn’t sound very professional.)
“Yes,” she said. “It’s my mantra. I say it to myself all the time.”
“Like yesterday, Brian [age 6] said he wasn’t going to do his homework.
Once there were three little girls, Kathy, Lilly and Susan. They were all new to my school in the seventh grade and had come from different schools. But in eighth grade, when they were together, they turned themselves into a gang that was mean to other kids with increasing frequency and ferocity. Teachers knew it was happening, but the girls were clever and slippery. We could rarely catch them in a teachable moment or a punishable act. The most we could do was talk to them. As you can imagine, that didn’t change anything.