Support Your School to Support Your Daughter

Let’s be honest.  We can’t move the dial on bullying unless families and schools work together.  And I mean, really work together.  Not blame each other.  Not politely tolerate each other.  But find ways to be in honest communication, build systems and structures, and hold each other accountable for creating a community of respect at the school.

Allison, co-founder of Go Girls!, practices mindfulness with kindergarteners at Glenview.

Go Girls! is in the 3rd year of our partnership with Glenview Elementary School in Oakland, CA where we have just embarked on a school-wide effort called “Go Glenview! A Journey of Social Emotional Learning and Leading through Visual Arts, Theater, and Music.”  The project is a partnership of the school staff and administration, the PTA and the rest of the parent community, along with us and another incredible teaching artist organization Microphone Mechanics.  And, of course…the students.  The school has already been working to integrate the tools of Positive Behavior Intervention and Support (PBIS) and Restorative Justice and these tools are central to guiding us on our journey.  The overall goal: To help Glenview students become leaders in their lives and their communities through:

  • Building resiliency, cultural appreciation and mutual respect
  • Strengthening communication skills
  • Navigating the school and the world
  • Developing strategies to resolve conflicts
Teaching Artist, Jahi, of Microphone Mechanics works with Glenview students.
Teaching Artist, Jahi, of Microphone Mechanics works with Glenview students.

This is an awesome project to be a part of.  And the parents are really showing up.  Not just physically, but emotionally.  A group of parents have formed an Equity Committee help the school do the hard work of creating the norms and structures that will allow all students and families to feel safe, valued and respected as part of the school community.  And yes, this is hard work.  No doubt about it.

As part of this, there are some things I am learning about how all of us who love our girls can show up and support the schools that support them:

  1. Assume the best intentions of the school – Your daughter may go to a school where it feels unsafe.  The best place to start is to assume that the school does care about its students, including your daughter, and that it is doing the best it can with the resources and information it has.  Classroom teachers and administrators have the hardest jobs in the world.  But they do this work because they want to make some kind of difference.  They do care about learning and growth.  You may disagree with how they are going about it all the time but it is crucial that you show up to the conversation with an open mind and an open heart.
  2. Fall 2013 Issue of "Teaching Tolerance" Magazine features a great article called "There Are No Bullies."
    Fall 2013 Issue of “Teaching Tolerance” Magazine features a great article called “There Are No Bullies.”

    Educate Yourself – There is A LOT of great information out there about what is working in schools to help create a culture of safety and respect.  I highly recommend Teaching Tolerance and Edutopia as the places to start.

  3. Be willing to own your part – The other day, I asked a 3rd grade class at Glenview what they think needs to happen to make their school a more respectful community.  One boy answered, “Our parents can be role models for us.”  Wow, huh? Just spend a little bit of time reflecting on how you show respect to yourself and others while you are on campus.  What is your relationship to other parents, teachers, and students at her school?  What are the ways you are modeling respect and where are the areas you want to work on?
  4. Give your money.  I know.  Everyone wants your money and this is just one more thing.  But money is a very important part of this process.  The article about bullying in this Fall’s issue of Teaching Tolerance states “The most effective bullying interventions don’t focus on only one category of kids, but rather acknowledge that all students benefit when schools empower youth and teach them about healthy relationships. Adopting comprehensive programming designed to promote social emotional competencies is a great way to support students…”  These kinds of comprehensive programs cost money.  Simple as that.

This post is #16 of 25 Tips to Teach Your Daughter to Respect Herself, Command Respect, and Respect Others.  Wanna make sure you get all 25 Tips for Bullying Awareness Month?  CLICK HERE and we’ll send ‘em right to your email!

For more incredible Go Girls! resources for helping your girl stay safe, happy, and healthy in her relationships, check out Kidpower and get your copy of Starring Celia.