Bullying: A Big Complicated Problem with Many Simple Solutions

If each one of us untangled one string at a time...

Friday, November 22, 2013

How a "Food Fight" Inspires Leadership: YouGiveGoods

Ever get discouraged at the holidays?  Does it seem like the real meaning gets lost?  You'd like to give back but you barely have any energy left after the madness of Black Friday, the tension of Cyber Monday, the decorating, and the multiple trips to the grocery store.  There's no time to do good.  You know you should be teaching kids the concept of giving but you have no idea of how you could even squeeze in one more thing.

But then you read this statistic and it's hard to ignore: More than 1 in 5 children are at risk for hunger.

Start a Food Fight.  Now you can rally the troops, feed the hungry, and inspire others by going to  YouGiveGoods and starting an online food drive to benefit the charity of your choice.  You setup a drive page online (in minutes), use email and social media to invite people to your drive and they buy food right there online.  YouGiveGoods even has a fresh produce campaign. When the drive is over YouGiveGoods will deliver all the food to the pantry. You can even be there when the food is delivered to have a service day.  Seriously brilliant!

Everyone from small and large corporations to families to fraternities/sororities to high schools to a second grade lacrosse team can create their own personalized drive.  Pet lovers will be happy to hear that even our four legged friends benefit.  Literally, anyone can start a drive and challenging departments, chapters, grades, family members and teams to raise the most just adds to the fun.  It's the definition of healthy competition.  Just ask Xavier High School or six year old Aidan who believes no child should go hungry or the Apple Montessori School who wants to feed women and children in need in Paterson, New Jersey.

Start one anytime...but #GivingTuesday (December 3rd) is a good goal.

Why is this about leadership?  Leaders figure out a way to give, even if it means starting a Food Fight.

Let the holidays begin...Enjoy!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Principals Have the Power to Encourage Leadership: The Anti-Bully

Leadership is not a rank or a position. Leadership is a service to be given. -- Simon Sinek
Leadership comes in all sizes, shapes, colors, and ages.  That's the message being given at P.S. 23, a wonderful elementary school on Staten Island that I recently had the privilege to visit.P.S. 23 takes leadership seriously.  As part of The Leader In Me program, each student from Kindergarten through 5th grade is taught the 7 Habits of Highly Successful People by Stephen R. Covey.Often when I walk into a school and see motivational messages on the walls, I think, "that's really nice"...but do they actually promote this to the students in a more meaningful way?  Well, I got my answer during the assembly that I led about One Can Count. (Thanks to Senator Lanza for making One Can Count available in Staten Island elementary schools.) When I asked questions about respect and stepping up for one another, I got answers like "Seek first to understand and then be understood."  Or "it's about trust."  These are sophisticated concepts for such young students, but kids are smart and when you treat them like they are, they rise to the occasion.Before the principal, Mr. Paul Proscia,  introduced me, he spoke with the children first.  He set it up by reminding them that they are all leaders.  (By the way, he was not talking to them like children.  He was talking to them like intelligent adults in the making.   It was a sea of little faces but their brains were active and engaged.)  He is helping them change the perception of leadership by explaining that leaders are everywhere --  as construction workers, business people, police officers, teachers, nurses, cafeteria workers.  "The president is a leader but you don't have to be president to be considered a leader."

Sound simplistic?  It's not.  These are messages every 5 year-old and up needs to hear in school.  Each child needs to be seen, heard and given the feeling that their unique personalities and talents make them leadership material.

At P.S. 23, they are given the opportunity to be leaders, including being a "Leader of the Month."  The rubric that decides if you get this honor is not based on grades.  It's based on showing respect, helping others, academic effort and using their talents in productive ways.

Mr. Proscia made One the Book of the Month for the entire school.  Before I even made my visit, they understood what the book was about.  It's about stepping up.  It's about being yourself.  It's about inclusion.  It's about leadership.

Why should a school make leadership and social emotional learning a priority?  The children do better in school.  That's it.  Bottom line.  They become their "best self."
Sometimes it just takes One.  
P.S. 23 is a One.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Cyberbullying: Why We Need to Start Raising Little Leaders Online

If I have one piece of advice for every single elementary school and every single parent, it is to make teaching leadership a priority offline...and ONLINE.  Start early.

Common sense says that if we wouldn't let a child cross a street without holding their hand and teaching them the rules of the road, why would we let them loose online where there are a few dark alleys.

The discussion about technology and younger children involves what's healthy (physically) but also how very young children learn to interact with others (socially/emotionally).  If you have young children, this Huffington Post blog by Dr. Larry Rosen gives some insight to why parents should be strategic about their child's technology use.

Imagine if we could make digital citizenship a priority.  We'd all worry a little less.

This infographic by The Wired Child,  made me sit up and take notice about technology use in really young kids.

Source: Early Childhood Education Degrees

via Early Childhood Education Degrees.com