School Bus Bullying: Seven Lessons

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?

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Peace, Joy, Love and Being Wrong

 We wish each other peace, joy and love this time of year. Seems like a simple way to happiness. Why is it so hard?

At Christmas Eve dinner with friends someone asked the question, “If your life could be any movie you wanted, what would it be? Who would play you? Who would play the role of your true love? Would you change the ending? What would the new ending be? Continue reading

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Turning Power Struggles into Emotional Intelligence II

After reading “Turning Power Struggles into Emotional Intelligence” Lyn decided to try the approach and told me this story about her two-year-old daughter Uma: Continue reading

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Altruism, Leadership and the Learning Community

Matt’s team of teachers was tired by the time it came to plan the April vacation camp program. Matt knew it would be hard to find volunteers—everyone needed the vacation, themselves. Nonetheless, he put “Staffing for Vacation Camp” on the agenda for their weekly meeting. When this item came up on the agenda, Matt said: “So, is there anyone who wants to work this vacation?” Continue reading

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How Parents can Educate Genius or Not

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

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Turn Power Struggles into Emotional Intelligence

When Margaret was having trouble with one of her second graders she discovered a technique that helped her turn power struggles into lessons in emotional intelligence. The liberating line was: “You are a comedian, aren’t you?”

The same technique worked like magic with her eight-month-old son, Musa. She told me this story: Continue reading

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Punishment, Power and Discipline: How not to be an Authority with Kids.

Walking through Target yesterday I heard childish laughter, caught a glimpse of a girl darting around a corner somewhere in the “Electronics” isle, and heard a very angry male voice: “Come here. Come here right now.”

The girlish laughter continued unabated. Five minutes later, over in “Pain Relief” I saw the same girl followed by a man with a beard in his fifties pushing a nearly full cart and heard the same harsh: “Stop that. Come back here.” I was close enough to see his red face.

When I stopped for aspirin, he walked past me down the isle in pursuit Continue reading

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Moms Must Make Mistakes (Dads, too)

Last week a key line in Daphne’s mother’s email to me was: “…parents are trying to be the best parents they can be (and can be quite unforgiving of themselves for the mistakes they make.)”

The very same day Daryl’s mother sent me this: “rick, heard you loud and clear on daryl’s first day. when i asked him what he was most looking forward to in second grade, he responded ‘my mistakes.’ I kid you not. It really happened! :-)” Continue reading

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Just Say Nothing

We want our children to grow up to be decision makers. We also want them to make good decisions. How can we get them to do the right thing and treat them as if they know what they are doing at the same time? How can we treat them as if they know what they are doing, when we half know that they don’t?

As I was saying goodbye to early childhood teacher Gretchen Ott on my last day at Children’s Day School, she reminded me of a very important technique. She said: “A long time ago I learned the trick of not saying anything. If a student did something I knew he knew was wrong, I would just give him a look. I’m still perfecting my look, and I wish I did it more.” Continue reading

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Don’t Get Mad; Get Creative.

Margaret had a classic class clown in her second grade one year. Ruben was smart, active, inquisitive, and made the class laugh several times a day, disrupting Margaret’s lessons. She found him infuriating, but fury was not recognized as an acceptable professional approach. By the third week of the year, she was sending him into the hallway for a “timeout” as a regular practice. That Friday, she lost her temper and sent Ruben to the principal’s office.

Over the weekend Margaret worried, thought, wondered, pondered, stewed, and talked to a friend about what she should do to fix this problem. Only three weeks of school! It just couldn’t go on like this. Nonetheless, Monday morning she arrived at school without a plan. Continue reading

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