Schools Participate in Week of Respect Activities
Wednesday, November 2, 2016
The first week in October was designated by the State of New Jersey as a “Week of Respect.” Schools, in order to recognize the importance of character education, are required to observe the week by providing age-appropriate instruction focusing on character education to prevent harassment, intimation or bullying (HIB). Last month, schools throughout Montclair held activities and exercises emphasizing the theme of respect. Here’s just some of what took place around the district.
To support the Week of Respect, Montclair High School participated in the #Day 1 Campaign through the Tyler Clementi Foundation. To start the week, the #Day 1 Pledge was read in both high school buildings, by the schools administration. The pledge requested that student do their part to make their peers feel included, through mutual respect, and compassion. After the pledge was read, classroom teachers invited students to sign a pledge poster, to demonstrate their commitment to building a strong community. The pledges are displayed in each classroom.
In addition to taking the pledge, respect themed quotes were read by members of the Students Against Destructive Decisions (S.A.D.D.) Club, each day during announcements.
At Glenfield Middle School, each morning students shared positive respectful sayings and words on the morning announcements; the topics relating to friendship, kindness and respect. Teachers gave a handout to read along with “RESPECT cards” for students to sign. Teachers focused on discussions throughout the week with their classes on various topics of anti-bullying, respect and following school rules.
A national campaign launched by Teaching Tolerance in 2002, Mix It Up at Lunch Day encourages students to identify, question and cross social boundaries.
In school surveys, students have identified the cafeteria as the place where divisions are most clearly drawn. So for just a day, students were asked to move out of their comfort zones and connect with someone new over lunch. It’s a simple act with profound implications. Studies have shown that interactions across group lines can help reduce prejudice. When students interact with those who are different from them, biases and misperceptions can fall away.
As students entered the cafeteria, teachers randomly handed each student a color coded ticket that determined at which table the student would sit. The goal was to get students to sit with and interact with people they do not normally sit or interact with.
Nishuane’s youngest students focused on the character education trait of Respect through a variety of hands-on experiences! The students are already exposed to many traits through our implementation of the Responsive Classroom and Bucket-Filling, but our Character Education Committee planned daily events for children to get involved and become more aware of respect. First, the students and teachers decorated their classroom doors, highlighting what respect means to them. Next, the students experienced “Eye-Spy” whereby the staff focused on the importance of eye contact. Whenever someone gave them eye contact, they gave that person a sticker so it could “stick with them!”
Further, the students also participated in Mix It Up Day at their lunchtimes. The cafeteria walls were adorned with sentence starters and questions as students were invited to sit next to new students and ask questions in order to learn something new. The children really appreciated this experience.
Finally, the week culminated with a Nishuane School learning community assembly presented by the Character Education Committee. The committee recited the book Kindness is Cooler, Mrs. Ruler. A surprise “flash mob” appeared when the staff assembled on stage while the song “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” was playing, conveying the message that the whole team is there to support and nurture all of the children.
Northeast School celebrated the Week of Respect with a variety of daily activities. Each day kicked off with daily morning announcements on topics such as respect, kindness, and tolerance. Teachers led classroom discussions during morning meeting on what respect looks like and sounds like. Throughout the week, students were then able to carry this discussion to their recess time and work together to decorate our outside walkways with chalk art. Students and staff also decorated and signed my door as a pledge to show respect to others and ourselves. The week ended with a school spirit day to show that while we are all different, we can come together as a school community.
Watchung’s held a school-wide Respect Project: “How Do You Show Respect.” All Watchung students created a message of respect by artistically designing and drawing on a cut-out heart which was then placed inside a larger heart featured in one of Watchung’s hallways. The school is so proud of the students’ contributions it’s hoping to turn the artwork into a permanent display.