What Parents Can Do to Stop Sexual Harassment | Harvard Graduate School of Education

This article is a great starting point for important and timely conversations about what we are role modeling and messaging to our kids. In addition to a parenting opportunity, a next step is to push the envelope about where we are making time in school for these important conversations… is it Health Class, parent sessions, part of advisory curriculum? All of those? I would highlight the need to look deeply at being a “Critical Consumer of Media and Culture.” Let’s get going and teach our kids!

Source: What Parents Can Do to Stop Sexual Harassment | Harvard Graduate School of Education

Burger King Bullying Ad Lesson: Just in Time Advising

The above Burger King bullying ad gives us a “Just in Time” opportunity to address bullying and the role of bystanders in either a large or small group lesson. Here are two short, easy lessons that anyone can lead:

Large Group Audience (think Grade Level or Division) Minimum 7 minutes

    1. Introduce the Burger King Bullying Ad that has gone viral and ask the audience to look for one phrase, image, or word that resonates with them. (1 min)
    2. Watch the video (3 min)
    3. Ask students to turn and talk for 1 minute with a neighbor. During this time each person share the selected phrase, image or word and why it was selected. (1 min)
    4. Optional: Ask for some students to share
    5. Pose challenge questions to audience to think about the bystander role (Pause). Then ask the following questions.  What role can each of us play as a bystander? What do you hope someone would do for you? (1 min)
    6. Positive Wrap-up. Acknowledge heavy and hurtful topic. Highlight opportunity to be the change. High five your partner. (1 min)

Small Group Audience (think Advisory or Homeroom) Minimum 15 minutes

    1. Introduce the Burger King Bullying Ad that has gone viral. Ask the students to watch it without comment or talking. (4 min)
    2. Introduce rewatching the video to Connect: Ask students to listen and look for a personal connection. One possible frame is: This video reminds me of _______?  Share paper for students to write down thinking. (5 min)
    3. After rewatching the video and think time move into small group share: break students into pairs or trios to share their connection. (2 min)
    4. Introduce Extend: Ask students to think and jot down how their thinking has shifted, deepened or moved ahead because of what someone shared. One idea frame is: This video added to my thinking because______. (2 min) Share if desired.
    5. Introduce Challenge: Ask students what challenges in your school come to mind about the topic of bullying or being a bystander? What is a possible personal next step? Share ideas out loud or on sticky notes to document thinking (students read each idea quietly) (1-2 min)
    6. Positive Wrap-up. Acknowledge heavy and hurtful topic. Highlight opportunity to be the change right now. Share something positive about your partner(s). (1-2 min)

Ideas for this lesson came from the book: Making Thinking Visible by Ron Ritchhart, Mark Church and Karin Morrison and the “Connect-Extend-Challenge” thinking routine.

The Value of Empathy

In Alan November’s book Who Owns the Learning?, November digs into thinking about students as global communicators and collaborators. He taps various experts and their thinking to better understand the path forward; the information triangulates back to a powerful point –  learning empathy.

“Americans are often inexperienced in valuing other culture’s perspectives. Top global talent must understand and value other peoples’ points of view. Unfortunately, a lot of Americans think, ‘If the world doesn’t look like us, it’s broken.” (p 65, November)

Does that statement, made by the CEO of one of the world’s largest banks, surprise you? Do you feel defensive? What do we need to think about and what is this comment telling us about what skills and attitudes we are fostering with our students? What are the opportunities to shift and change what students experience?

The writing is on the wall. We are a global world and no amount of looking after only number 1 is going to change the fact that we exist in an diverse and multi-view community. In fact, a great opportunity is at hand! Never before have we been so clearly able to see the angst, fear and worry that a lack of understanding and empathy brings. It is time to empower and guide student thinking, as the future leaders of our world, toward developing empathy and inclusive collaborative leadership. Whether we are thinking about our advisory program, daily classroom outcomes or a new student leadership model, it is time to begin working together, listening to understand and finding common ground to forge the best path forward. it is time to value empathy for what it is: a foundational pillar of the present and future.

November, A. C. (2012). Who owns the learning?: preparing students for success in the digital age. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.



As is the case with many opportunities, our thinking about student council at the American Embassy Middle School began with a problem.

It was about a week before school, four years ago, and faculty were signing up for extra curricular activities.  In talking with the teachers about their interests, leading student council was avoided like 3rd class on a non-AC August Indian train.  A lack of desire to lead our leaders left us questioning what’s happening with our “leadership” model?  Forced to look critically at our “student council” model, we started to see some flaws.  From the teacher perspective, this position was an enormous year-long commitment.  From a student perspective, SC was more about popularity then leadership potential.  Students who weren’t elected came away from the process with the perception that because they hadn’t been elected to a leadership position by their peers, they didn’t have the potential to be leaders at school.  Additionally, students who were elected felt SC was a huge commitment that overloaded their schedules and forced them to make difficult choices.

If your school is like most schools, then each year your student body elects a small group of students as “the leaders.”  How many students are selected for these positions?  Is it the typical 3-5%? What if we shared that with our change we increased the opportunity upwards from 50%?  In an effort to create leadership opportunities for many students, to enable more students to have a voice in decision-making to serve the school, and to relieve pressure on staff and students, AES stepped away from the traditional model and created our own model.

What does this model include and how is it better? Our goal was to create a program that promotes leadership qualities in all students in our school community and encourages all students to think of themselves as  leaders.  We were also looking at a way to facilitate shared leadership on the part of the teachers.  We divided our model into three ongoing opportunities. The first opportunity utilizes our advisory program. Each month advisories select a different representative to participate in a leadership round table.  Held at lunch, students from across grade levels address concerns and make decisions about topics relevant to the students and middle school.  This is reported out at a weekly all school assembly.  A second leadership opportunity all students have is to participate in specific steering committees based on the student’s interests.  Some of our current committees include a student activities committee, a  technology committee, a school climate committee, and an after school activities committee.  Finally, we took a look at what we could do to support students in developing their understanding and thinking about leadership.   Once a quarter, all students are invited to a Saturday leadership seminar that focuses on learning and practicing specific leadership qualities. These half day sessions are led by interested teachers, counselors and administrators, and are well attended throughout the year.

As you think about the new school year ahead, stop for a moment to consider who the student leaders are at your school.  How were they chosen, and after the election, what happened to those who were not elected?  Educating youth today is about more than a solid curricular foundation; it also includes guiding our students to be the leaders of tomorrow.  As we think ahead toward a world that is vastly unpredictable, 21st century skills like collaboration and critical thinking will be essential.  Are you utilizing a leadership model that promotes outside-the-classroom opportunities for all students at your school?  Colleen Coady, AES Middle School Counselor, and Beth Coyle, AES MS Principal, will be presenting more about this topic at the AMLE Conference in Minneapolis in November.