Bullying. It’s something we address in school starting at the beginning of the year. As we head back to school this week, we will review the topic as we review the rules of our classroom and school.
In the TK classroom, I use the story The Recess Queen to talk with my kids about bullying. However, bullying is such a hard topic for me because of my elementary years. I feel as though in talking with my class that I repeat and emphasize it so much because of how hurt I was as a child.
I was the kid that got bullied. And it hurt. A lot.
When I was in 4th grade, toward the end of the year, our class had a party. We were encouraged to wear a shirt for everyone to sign. I chose to wear a special Disneyland shirt with Mickey Mouse on the front. All morning in class, we got to sign each other’s shirts with our black pens. It was pretty cool. But then recess came.
During recess, a girl asked to sign my shirt so I let her. What I didn’t know at the time was that she wrote “kick me” on the bottom three times. Then she and two other girls proceeded to hold me down on the ground while other students came over and kicked my back like my shirt said. I sat and cried the whole time. No one came to help me. No one who said they were my friend went to get the yard aide .They just stood and watched, afraid to do anything–so they told me. Finally, after what felt like forever, the bell rang. I walked with tears streaming down my face back to class. My friends tried to cross off the words but to me, the shirt was ruined.
My teacher, a gentle man, saw my tears and asked what had happened. I explained and he gave the girls consequences but somehow it didn’t seem right in my world. I was hurt and no one could take away how I felt that day. In fact, in some respects, it still follows me today. The wondering if someone is really my friend or if they are just saying those words.
When I got home, I hid my shirt. I didn’t want to see it ever. What had started as a great day was destroyed in an instant. When we moved a year later, I threw the shirt away. I never wanted to speak about 4th grade. In fact, to this day, I couldn’t tell you more about 4th grade than that very instant. That’s the impact bullying had–it made a such a strong, hurtful impression on me.
I understand how students feel. I relate to the hurt because I’ve been there. I strive to teach my students to be respectful, to use kind words, to be patient and talk about how they feel in situations. I want to do my best to create an environment where everyone can grow and learn each day. So, in my room, we will talk about how to be a friend and how not to bully someone because everyone should be respected.