October 6, 2017
October is Bullying Awareness Month, so I want to take this opportunity to share some resources that we use to address bullying here at Russell Lee Elementary School. If we have one student who is being bullied, then we have a bullying problem and it needs to be addressed. Like so many things about our amazing school, the way we address any issue here is as a school community, so I want to outline what we are working on as a staff and then share some ways that all of you can help as members of our Lee Family.
We have several programs in place to address the wide variety of needs and challenges that our students might encounter in the course of a day, a week, a year. This year we have implemented morning meetings across all grade levels to strengthen our connections with our students and their connections to one another. Morning meetings are part of the Restorative Practices Program and focus on building community, respecting one another and fostering healthy relationships. It is focus area for our work on student equity and is a growing movement across AISD. More information on Restorative Practices can be found at this site: http://schottfoundation.org/restorative-practices
All of our 4th and 5th grade teachers are piloting the Responsive Classroom program after attending a week-long training this summer. The program focuses on the strong relationship between academic success and social-emotional learning (SEL). It also utilizes morning meetings as a way to build classroom community and draw on the strength of student voice. Across all grade levels much of our work as an SEL model campus is centered around the Second Step curriculum and we have a number of activities that will be incorporated into our weekly SEL lessons throughout the month. Thanks to the work of our incredible counselor, Ms. Gilbert we are in the middle of our “What is Love to you?” photo project and will be participating once again in Unity Day. Ms. Gilbert is a strong advocate for our students and a wonderful resource for how to navigate sensitive topics both at school and at home.
More information about Responsive Classroom can be found here: https://www.responsiveclassroom.org/
More information about SEL and Second Step can be found here:
More information about Unity Day can be found here:
Student voice and self advocacy are very important to us as the leaders of this school. It is why we have implemented a number of the programs outlined above and why my first request of Ms. Gilbert as our new counselor was to introduce a student council to address school-wide issues from a student perspective. We have made significant progress, but as much as we look for ways to strengthen self advocacy here at school, we will continue to need strong family partnerships in order to address the needs that our students express in a variety of ways.
As a parent, the times when I hear about the struggles my children are facing at school is a time when they are feeling vulnerable or less than their best. It is when they are exhausted or have low blood sugar. It is first thing in the morning or on the ride home from a particularly challenging day at school. While they might not always be communicating in the polite way that I want them to, they are communicating. I listen to what they have to say and make certain that they feel heard. If there is something that is concerning to me or needs clarification, I gently ask questions, sometimes even tabling them for another conversation after a nap or a snack. These conversations are are important and following up on issues that your child might share can make a tremendous difference. It lets your child know that things they share are important to you and it strengthens lines of communication that grow in importance as they begin to navigate middle and high school. If during the important conversations with your child you hear something that you think should be brought to our attention of their teacher or to us as the leaders of the school, please do not hesitate to contact us. All of us at Lee Elementary would rather hear about an issue multiple times than not hear about it at all. Please do not assume that we are aware of an issue or opt not to bring it to our attention because you don’t have all of the details. It could potentially make a difference for a child in need or or help us connect the dots on an issue that we need to address.
Please remember that we are bound by strict confidentiality regulations and even though you share information with us, we are unable to share information with you about any child other than your own. These regulations are in place for many reasons, but ultimately they serve as necessary protection for our students. We work very hard to address any issues related to student conflict, but there will always be more that we can do and we are constantly seeking out new approaches to address the multitude of challenges that our Roadrunners face. Above all else, we are here to make sure all of our students arrive at a safe and welcoming school environment each and every day.
Have a wonderful three day weekend,
Russell Lee Elementary School