An educator is my career of choice. For thirty-seven years I have been doing this work and find it completely fulfilling. As in any career choice, the bad comes with the good. Since 1998, my experience as an administrator in elementary schools has been overwhelmingly positive and exciting. If I had to select one area of regret, it would be about ‘bullying’. I have learned over the years, how very few people (parents in particular) know what the word actually means. In the many cases of bullying brought to my attention, it is frequently obvious we need to help parents understand what real bullying is, how to identify it and how to bring it to an end. What is often considered a ‘serious’ bullying activity is frequently children learning social skills and working hard at getting along. For example, learning how to share can be very difficult for many children, given they are used to having everything they want, and even get things they don’t need. That said, real bullying does exist, and certainly resides in schools.
I have been approached by parents over the years asking what ‘program’ the school is using to fight against bullying. My experience tells me how little effect any specific program has on anything, let along bullying. It seems programs, or the latest ‘fad’s, come and go. This is where The Leader In Me PROCESS is so very different. I use the word ‘process’ on purpose. The Leader In Me (TLIM) is not a program. It is a cultural and atmospheric change or process within a school setting, turning away the negativity of bullying and providing strategic and concrete skills for every adult and child in the school. TLIM is a foundational process to provide a solid base for the rest of our lives. It builds character, choices, freedom and voice. It is a process which not only helps students learn about themselves and each other, but also prepares them for the challenges and responsibilities they will certainly encounter as adults.
I was recently approached by a very upset parent telling me there wasn’t anything being done at the school regarding bullying. I believe her comments couldn’t be farther from the truth. The process of TLIM has become, in my estimation, the most powerful process to do exactly that – bring down any notion of bullying and present to every student the choices they need to make on their journey to becoming leaders.
I don’t need to imagine a school operating TLIM. I have now been in two schools where TLIM has taken root. The results (data driven) have been phenomenal. For example, in the first school, just from behavioural issues alone, the drop between the first and second year of behavioural incidents went from 818 incidents to 442 incidents, almost a 50% drop in one year. That later dropped to a 90% decrease in behavioural issues. Why? Students become PROACTIVE, not reactive. Students make choices. Students begin to listen to each other for understanding, and students chose Win-Win over Win-Lose!
My response to the parent who wants something done about bullying: ‘Come and see.’ Let us show you how TLIM prevents bullying. I believe the only process able to change the syndrome of bullying in a school is the process of finding ‘The Leader In Me’ in the life of every student. It will make ‘Great Things Happen’ in any school. (www.theleaderinme.org).