Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Profound Impact

As educators we routinely wonder whether or not the advice that we impart on our students actually has had a positive impact.  Sometimes were are given direct feedback, but other times were are left to wonder.  During the past couple of weeks we have organized two assemblies where I have educated the entire student body on cyberbullying, as well as digital responsibility and footprints.  My goals for the assemblies were for students to fully understand the negative impact and consequences associated with bullying online, the need to advocate for others who are targeted, the importance of demonstrating responsibility online as it can potentially impact college acceptances and future employment, and the creation of a positive digital footprint.  

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For each class I utilized a PowerPoint presentation complete with testimonials, emotional videos, and relevant examples.  During each assembly students were extremely attentive and respectful, but I was still unsure about whether or not my points were made.  Fortunately someone shared with me the email below that was sent to our middle school principal by a student who attended one of my presentations.  Please note that I have removed all names.

Hi Mrs. XXX, I'm not sure if you remember me but my name is XXX XXX. I'm a junior at the high school. I also wasn't sure who to come to about this, but at the high school we recently had a presentation on cyber- bullying, and I have a Facebook account. A student's Facebook page at your middle school came up on my Facebook news-feed. Her page wasn't blocked, which is why her information was visible to view.  I didn't want to just overlook this.  Last year when I was a sophomore, this girl came to the high school football games with her dad and she was very friendly, but I noticed other girls from the middle school bullying her. I remember telling the girl to ignore them and not to hang out with them. However, on this girl's page there were cruel comments and sarcastic remarks leading this girl to believe they liked her when from my point of view it seemed like bullying. The girl's name is XXX XXX, I don't know her, but I just wanted to bring it to your attention if it wasn't already known. I just wanted to say something, because at the high school the presentation on cyber-bullying really made me realize how much of a difference saying something can make. If you need me at all feel free to email me back.

I can't even begin to explain how proud I am of this student!  Messages like this make me realize that when we take the time to educate our students ourselves it really does have an impact.  We are in the process of conducting all of our assemblies with in-house personnel because it is cost-effective, convenient, and most importantly we are the ones who have established connections with our students.  Find out who your experts are and empower them to deliver important messages during assemblies and I can assure you that they too will have a profound impact on your students.


  1. Eric,
    Thanks for your reflection. I agree that we as educational leaders must build capacity of the dynamic individuals that are making the magic happen in the classrooms on a daily basis. And while outside consultants can be powerful, and certainly have a place in learning, effective PD comes from within. Identifying the strengths of individual staff members is a positive practice that produces long-lasting impact.

    Always learning,


    Middle School Principal and bridge builder

  2. What I like here, Eric, is that you are encouraging your kids to stand up for each other in social spaces.

    If we all tapped into the minds and hearts of our kids, we'd have less cyberbullying simply because we'd have more people holding our tweens and teens accountable for their behavior in social spaces.

    Heck: If kids stood up to that kind of behavior, I think it would end pretty darn quick. Silence enables bullies -- and voices of peers mean more than voices from adults any day.

    Good stuff.

  3. Eric,
    Would you be willing to share the powerpoint you used?

  4. To stop any form of bullying we have to work to empower the children. We need to create a culture where not only the school personal say bulling is not OK but the students themselves also say bullying is not OK in my school. Video cameras, internet filters, and metal detectors do not stop bullying-people do! Keep up the great work.

  5. Eric,

    Would love it if you would share this presentation!

    Thanks in advance!

  6. Eric,
    Kudos to you! I just completed my dissertation entitled, " Perceptions of cyber bullying from secondary school administrators in Texas" and you did EXACTLY what I found that we all need to be doing as educators! You are doing great things !