Wednesday, October 27, 2010

"Recess Chat" and Accountability for Bullies

Upper Valley News, October 26 
by Katie Beth Ryan, Staff Writer

Condensed by Barry Mattison- Teachers at Willow School, a private school in Wilder, NH founder by former Marion Cross school teachers Terri Ashley and Riley O'Connor have come up with an exciting new program that holds K-3rd grade children accountable for their actions on the playground. An idea that might play out in the future for higher grades.

Recess is normally a time when students receive almost no oversight or attention from teachers as they interact on the play field. It's during these times that problems can occur, such as bullying, exclusion from group activities, and emotional trauma, leading to problems for the teachers controlling the students when they return to class. Teachers trying to focus theses students who have been bullied or hurt by others have a hard time adjusting to the subjects at hand, thus resulting in being left behind, possible emotional scars, further torment while in class, and conflicts with the teacher from all children.

Now a daily part of the school program, "Recess Chat" is held immediately after recess, a half-hour period when the teachers and students discuss what happened during recess. It is an opportunity for teachers to find out if any student was picked on or emotionally hurt and holds those who cause that hurt accountable for their actions. The end result is that teachers and administrators are finding that students are now thinking about their actions and words before recess knowing that they will be discussed and exposed right after they happen in front of all the other students and staff. This accountability also has a big impact on the students as they are quicker to focus on the new studies instead of rehash what happened on the playground.

Key to a teachers lesson plan is inclusion of all the students, which can fall apart if children have had a bad experience on the playground.

This plan might be an excellent start to initiate in all schools to teach youngsters about accountability and the effects of bullying. By making them think about what might happen before they are given the freedom to express themselves openly as young people, they may grow up as adults, carrying over that same value of accountability for their actions. The ability of being able to walk in someone's else's shoes these days is a rare thing.

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