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Thoughts about teens, tweens, parenting and this adventure of living on Earth in the 21st century.

Annie Fox, M.Ed., is an internationally respected parenting expert, award-winning author, and a trusted online adviser for tweens and teens.

I have a dream that every school…

January 20, 2014

Thank you, Dr. King

Thank you, Dr. King

I have a dream that every school is a safe and nurturing place for all children. A place where kids want to be because every adult who works there respects students and shows it.

I have a dream that every teacher loves teaching and comes to school every morning with affection, compassion and understanding for his or her students and colleagues.

I have a dream that no matter how a child looks or learns, dresses or speaks he or she is at ease at school (“at home” if you will)  because no one will ridicule, tease, ignore or intentionally hurt that child.

I have a dream that every child has real friends at school that he or she can trust and count on.

I have a dream that teachers are always cognizant of the power of their influence on children and their responsibility (and honor) to guide and encourage all kids to fulfill their potential and become good people who have the social courage to do the right thing.

I have a dream that every school has a gifted school counselor with the training, time and patience to help children sort out their feelings whenever they feel overwhelmed by anger, worry, loneliness or confusion.

I have a dream that every school has a wonderful library and an enthusiastic librarian who loves sharing with children the wonders of opening doors onto the world through books.

I have a dream that every school provides instruction in art, music, theatre so students can learn to express themselves creatively and appreciate the unique gifts of every individual.

I have a dream that every school cafeteria serves healthy, nutritious, beautiful and lovingly prepared food.

I have a dream that every school is a fun, exciting, innovative, creative  place in which teachers, administrators, staff and students take pride and where they truly enjoy working and learning together.

I have a dream that every school is a welcoming place for parents. And that teachers, administrators and parents eagerly work together in a synergy because they fully understand that when it comes to the intellectual, social and emotional development of students they are on the same team.

I have a dream that every school works unrelentingly to actualize its mission statement. That carefully chosen words used on the school website, words like “dignity” “respect” “leadership” “worth” are the daily guiding principles motivating and inspiring every interaction within the school community.

I have a dream that no matter what a child’s home-life is,  school is a place in which he or she thrives and receives whatever is necessary to build a life of unlimited potential and fulfillment.

Filed under: Parenting — Tags: , — Annie @ 11:15 am
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The cure for “mean kid” behavior

November 27, 2012

I originally wrote this article for TakePart.com where I write a weekly education post. Check out the rest of my articles there.

Get the message? Got it? Good!

Whenever I communicate from a school stage or from my computer, I tell students that our choices should reflect the kind of people we really are. Most of us are good people who care about others. We have a strong sense of fairness. We like to be helpful. We try to understand the other person’s point of view.

Very few of us are truly “mean.” And yet, we often exhibit downright mean behavior (online and off). Whenever I get the chance, I challenge students to think about why that’s the case. I also challenge them to stand up for what’s right, acknowledging that it’s not always easy, especially when no one is standing with you.

Most kids older than the age of five, really do know the difference between right and wrong. But they don’t always do the right thing. Our 21st-century culture of cruelty coupled with a sense of entitlement has taught kids (and many adults) that looking out for anyone but themselves is a sign of weakness.

More: What Every Parent Should Know: How to Help Your Kids Deal With Peer Conflicts at School

Going out of one’s way to be nice to a popular kid, however, will likely earn a student some popularity points of his/her own. But being kind to an “underdog,” especially when popular kids are watching, well, that can be a high-risk move. So can turning down a demand from another student to copy from one’s test paper or refusing to cheat in other ways. And so, kids may feel stuck between their natural inclinations to do the right thing vs. doing whatever it takes to be liked or to get ahead.

We’ve taken a tunnel vision approach to school for long enough, with most of our resources going toward test taking. What’s the point of education without a focus on improving one’s character? Parents and teachers need to make a concerted effort to help students develop the social courage it takes to stand up and be moral leaders. How? Well, here’s an excerpt from my book Teaching Kids to Be Good People, that shows a simple way for us to begin lessons in social courage.

Share this quote with students: “The time is always right to do what is right.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

Ask, “What do you think about this? Is it true? Too simplistic?”

Talk about a time when you or someone else was being treated unfairly and you stepped up and did the right thing. What happened?

Talk about a time when you didn’t help promote respect, peace, and fairness. What held you back?

Create a challenge to increase acts of social courage. You’ll need paper strips (11 x 2 inches), tape, and a pen.

  • Think about a time you stepped up and did the right thing when someone needed a friend or a message of peace. Write a sentence about what you did on a strip of paper and sign your name.
  • Connect your strip with someone else’s and create “links” using tape.
  • Got more than one act of social courage? Make another link!

Each day keep adding to the chain by actively looking for opportunities to be “brave” in situations where someone needs to do the right thing. As a group, talk about any positive changes you notice in yourself, your family, your school.

 

 

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