“Your school is too diverse for this to work.”
“Your teachers are too dumb to pull it off.”
“Your time, funding, and testing practices will stop you from making it happen.”
As you might have guessed, I call total B.S. on those notions!
Click here for this CNN article on a Finish anti-bully program call “KiVa.” In it, the author points to the amazing outcomes that KiVa (a program which, very powerfully, encourages students to realize they’re on the same team) can create, but claims it would never work here in the U.S. due to pressures our educational system faces.
Look, I’ve traveled to over 1,000 campuses and I’ve seen schools turn the tables on bullying with my own eyes.
I saw Donna McNeel create “Be the Difference” and “Kindness Revolution” days where she united students across campus to wear orange and ignite a culture of positivity and compassion. 500 miles away, Steve Patterson did the same.
I’ve seen Reginald Mitchell step into the middle of a girl fight just minutes before a school assembly. He turned that tense moment around, and guided those students into becoming the most respectful, attentive group I’ve spoken to in years.
Or how about when Chris Hollister pulled the freshmen across 9 schools together for an anti-bully orientation? The writer of this article would have claimed, “It won’t work – that’s too many kids!”
But it did work.
Pat Silva counsels in a school with 1,200 students to 1 counselor. And guess what? Pat gets it done.
I’ve watched after-school programs build engagement and improve student performance across the board in countless schools.
In 11 years with TEEN TRUTH I have seen so much, and I know one thing to be true. Amazing school culture can be created within any socio-economic situation. It all comes down to the system we have in place. Anyone, anywhere can create a successful school culture system, but where to start?
Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to get your school on track to proving this article wrong!
Is there strong leadership? Do we have messaging on campus that works? Are our activities programs focused on social-emotional issues? Are we empowering student voice?
If you are reading this blog, you get it, but many of your fellow educators, parents, and students might not…not yet anyway. Maybe they buy this CNN article as fact. They say “We can’t have great school culture here, so let’s hang our heads low and give up.”
But we can do it. We have the methods, and we certainly have the work ethic!
If there is anyway we can help, please let us know. Jared Scott has continued to make an impact around the issues of suicide and depression. Personally, I’ve enjoyed working with staff development and student leadership teams. And for a sure fire way to build school culture CLICK HERE to read Stephen Admundon’s latest TEEN TRUTH blog on Event Stacking.
We can develop school systems just as awesome as Finland… We just have to build them.
Keep up the fight!
JC Pohl, LMFT-A
President & CEO, TEEN TRUTH