I recently attended a Bully-Schools workshop and had the opportunity to sit with a group of middle school teachers, counselors and social workers. We were discussing acknowledging positive behavior. Nancy Buyle our awesome facilitator shared the importance of making students feel wanted and accepted. When Nancy broke us up into groups to share some of the things schools should be doing to help our students take pride in their accomplishments and good deeds, my group members explained how their school has a secret mentoring program. They all shared with me how it works. Each staff member has a group of kids they high five, make positive comments, cheer on and let them know that someone cares about them daily. Some even attend their mentees extracurricular activities. The general consensus from my group was that their schools bullying incidents have reduced more than seventy-five percent since starting this secret mentor program. Many of the student who were struggling academically are doing much better, they’re happier and feel safer when on the bus and at school.
“Feeling safe- socially, emotionally, intellectually and physically- is a fundamental human need. Feeling safe in school promotes student learning and healthy development. (Devinde and Chohen 2007)
There are many reasons why a student will be aggressive toward another student. Their home life is filled with anger and disrespect. They may have a deceased parent. Their parents might be in the middle of a nasty divorce. The parents are too busy to be there for their child. Because of this many children are screaming out for attention. If they get more attention with negative aggressive behavior they are more likely to keep up. Negative attention is better than no attention.
When I was in fifth grade there was a very smart kid who was aggressive and threatening to almost everyone in the class. He would go in our desks and throw things on the floor. He stole hats, gloves and scarves and would tease, push and shove. We used to say he was crazy and should be put in jail but in 1968 there weren’t many things in place to help this student or the rest of us feel safe in school. Later I learned that he had come from a very bad home life. Both parents were alcoholics and drug addicts. He never received any attention for anything he did. I often wonder if there was some kind of secret mentoring program in place if this student would have changed his behavior.
Paula Dirkes in her awesome book Mentor Me! Writes: “An important school-based mentoring study (Curtis 1999) sheds some light on the “ripple effect” of mentoring- not only in school but in the child’s self-confidence level. Positive attitudes about school and personal self-confidence both improved a whopping sixty–four percent amongst mentored children.”
In every school there are students like the one in my fifth grade class crying out for help. So why not get teachers, staff, parents and even students on board to create a secret mentoring program to remind kids and teens that someone cares about them and that they have a right to be proud of themselves.
If you would learn more about mentoring contact www.mentormebook.com
Together we can change the world one duck at a time!”
Copyright Richard Paul 2013