BULLY

Bully reviewI had been putting this movie off for weeks. Yesterday it seemed to be screaming at me so I finally decided to watch it. My resistance was coming from an all too familiar place that I knew this movie was going to take me back to. I pushed play, and after an initial scene where the filmmakers show us the most horrible place where bullying can lead to, the movie continued (or rather began) with a camera inside a school bus while we listened to an incredible school choir version of Wheatus’s song ¨Teenage Dirtbag¨. Powerful stuff from the beginning, especially if you have ever witnessed the horrible difficulties some kids face during that ride to and from school. I always knew that bullying was a very big problem in the United States, and it certainly seems to have gotten out of hand there, but trust me when I tell you this is a global problem. Kids in every school, in almost every country in the world have witnessed the actions and effects of bullying at one time or another. Even here in Spain where for some reason I assumed this matter was under control I’ve heard my share of heart wrenching stories.

Things are probably a lot worse now than when I was a kid. There’s certainly a lot more diversity when it comes to families, traditions, religions, and there’s nothing a bully loves more than a glimpse of something different. If kids are teased simply because of having curly hair, run of the mill clothes or a funny accent, imagine what it’s like for children that are gay, have a physical or mental disability, a different religion, a different skin color. What has always shocked me the most regarding bullying is that the schools, where all of these acts of serious violence are taking place, do little to nothing about it. It took the parents of children lost many years too young due to bullying, to come together with these filmmakers to try to make a difference in their communities. It’s an absolute must see if you’re an educator, a parent or have any kind of position in a school or educational environment.

Bully took me on a very sad bus ride with a few kids, down very sad hallways with others, down a psychiatric prison ward and even inside their safe bedrooms at home. Now, thanks to the internet and texting, there’s simply no safe haven for kids that are being harassed.  Bullying is a serious issue and little has been done about it because school authorities continue to label it as usual ‘boys will be boys’ behavior. Even though girls are no exception, I’m not talking about sex here, this is a violence issue, it is serious and it should be taken as seriously as any other issue involving education. Many parents and teachers who see their kids day in and day out don’t even know that they’re bullying other children the minute they step outside their home or classroom. Many kids who are suffering from bullying say nothing at all.

This was the strongest part of the movie for me. A young boy, who had been severely bullied for years realized that becoming a bully himself was the only solution to his awful situation. If this isn’t an example of the now proven fact that many of the victims of today become the perpetrators of tomorrow, I don’t know what is. Here’s one of the hopeful things that I got from this film, a lot can be done not only by telling someone what is going on, but by standing next to those kids who are quiet, lonely and suffering severe aggravation from others. Many of the parents and classmates of children who committed suicide over bullying have said, that if aside from the bullies, their child had had just one friend or better yet a group of friends, a sense of community, their horrible tragedy could have been avoided. I urge you to watch this film and to not only leave it at that, share it with fellow parents and teachers, sit down with your children and talk to them about these issues. Abuse can come in many shapes and forms and can be where you least expect it. Open the floor for discussion. A school bus, a schoolyard or a classroom should never be a place of fear or pain. It breaks my heart when I see a child suffer and it’s often so hard to end suffering when it’s caused by an adult or parent, but to end it when it’s caused by another child? Shouldn’t that be easy? They are all learning and growing and becoming who they are, that’s why we’re there for right? To explain the difference between what is right and what is wrong? To show by example that differences are a part of life and give the world its color? Why is this issue such a huge and violent problem and why has nothing been done about it?

With a heavy heart I urge you to watch this film. I’d love to know your thoughts on this in the comments below! This is Bully. 

 

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READERS

Graded readers ESLHere’s what I’m doing on my Saturday night. Ok, ok, I’m almost finished and about to watch a movie, but yes, this is usually what life as a teacher is like nowadays. I’m starting with graded readers with my young students with this action and adventure book called Orca. It’s about a group of adventurous sailors and the things that can happen in the big blue sea. We’re starting the actual reading this week but we’ve been slowly working on vocabulary, games, listenings and video to get their interest before reading. So far they’ve loved it and my dear childhood film “Free Willy” has come to the rescue yet again. Two of my students were actually able to do a listening activity with a CNN news segment on killer whales working together to hunt a seal (I’m still looking for a polite way to squeal with excitement when my students have a little breakthrough like this in class. Did I mention these two students are 9 and 11?!). So last week while we were playing some flashcard games and going through some vocabulary, these two little guys asked if they could photocopy the flashcards to get the answers extra perfect next time (translation: they want to be the first to answer). I told them I would of course give them something for their notebooks so that they could review the new words when I wasn’t there. So these little vocabulary sheets are what I’m up to tonight, the big blank space is for them to write a sentence using the new words.

Vocabulary ESL

Did I tell you I felt incredibly old when my 9 year old student explained how to make videos bigger in my iPad last week? (Sigh…).

CERTIFIED AND EXCITED!

creative teachingI know it seems like I suddenly disappeared from the blogosphere, but don’t worry, it was only temporary while I was getting my second teacher certification as a young learners ESL teacher! That’s right, I’m now officially certified for teaching adults and my favorite little friends. I’m so happy I did it, so excited that I’ve finished, and now I get to apply so many of the amazing and creative ideas and techniques I learned these past few weeks. I have to tell you I was not prepared for learning in such a creative environment but that’s what I kept walking into day in and day out. You can imagine my excitement! Not only that but I was so lucky to be in a classroom with such a diverse and interesting group of students (well, teachers really!), and our tutor was a force to be reckoned with. Incredibly creative with one little extra wonderful side to him, he was a technology “junkie” just like me! Suffice it to say I was hooked and happy to learn from someone with so much experience.

In one of my favorite lessons about using dvd and video in the classroom, he said something that really struck a chord. He said that he doesn’t agree with people that say that technology will someday replace teachers, but that teachers who don’t embrace technology will be replaced by teachers who do. I loved this! What a great way of reminding us we must always stay on our toes to continue to create magic in the classroom.

Today I just wanted to pop in to give you my happy news and to say I’m still here, I’m not going anywhere! I leave you with a photo of what my life is like these days. cutouts of cartoons, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, made up memory games to teach verb tenses, and so many other unusual ways to plan my lessons and keep my students engaged and learning. I’ll see you all tomorrow for our Sunday Best!