Had Enough Snow Yet??

topperMiddle

Upcoming Important Dates

Wednesday, February 4 – Early Release Day, students dismissed at 11:10 am
Wednesday, February 4 – Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey
Friday, February 6 – School Dance 6:00 – 8:00 pm GMS Gym
Friday, February 13 – A Dose of Reality Presentation, all students.

MIYHSMaine Integrated Youth Health Survey

On the early release day, Wednesday, February 4, all of our students will be administered the MIYHS. This survey is a collaborative effort of the Maine Department of Education and the Department pif Health and Human Services. The results of this survey is completely anonymous, we will get results on a school-wide basis, but we will have no idea as to the identity of any of the individual respondents.

The information the state gains from these surveys, given to all students in grade 5 through 10, are used to inform the state on the efficacy of the current programs and how these programs can be improved. You received a letter through first-class mail from the middle school informing you of this survey. If you have any questions about the survey, please give me a call at 222-1228.

A Dose of Reality

OK, I am officially sick and tired of the snow and the snow days! All of these days away from school are causing us to really do a DOR-GA, Marietta-Dodgen MS-May 8, 2009 011-paintquick two-step trying to reschedule all of the activities we have had planned.

We have rescheduled the presentation by Linda Dutil, R.N. to Friday, February 13. You may remember that she is the emergency room nurse from Waterville, Me who travel around the country with her very appropriate and direct presentation on dangers of substance abuse.

For more information on her presentation, check our her web site at a-dose-of-reality.com

Chinese Culture and Language Class

COnfusius InstWe are planning to begin the Chinese Culture and Mandarin Language Class this coming Thursday, February 5. There is still time to sign your 7th or 8th grade student! We have about 10 7th grade students signed up, but only 2 8th grade students enrolled. We could really use some more 8th graders! If you are interested in having your child gain this wonderful, enriching experience, give me a call at 222-1228 or send me an email at robert.riley@gorhamschools.org.

Many Attend Public Forum for Superintendent Candidate

There was a great turnout for the public forum with Heather Perry, the finalist for the position of Superintendent of Schools. I think I counted almost 60 members of the community plus another 15 administrators and teachers from the Gorham Schools. Thank you to all who took time out of your very busy schedules to participate in the event. Thank you also fro bringing some great questions to ask Ms. Perry so we could all get a better insight into who she would help take our schools forward.

We all know how difficult it has become to finance public education, and how many requirements have been placed upon the public schools of all our communities, we need to have someone who can truly take the lead in this work.

I hope that each of you gained a better idea of who Ms. Perry is and how she would do if she were selected our next Superintendent.

That Time of Year

BullyingThere is something about this time of year that tends to make our kids forget all that we have worked so hard to accomplish about kindness and what it means to be a “friend”. Over the past week, or so, we have had to deal with a couple of instances where our great kids have forgotten about our Code of Conduct and behaved in a manner that creates upset in our building.

Our Code of Conduct is ubiquitous in our building! We have signs everywhere reminding us all of the words we believe are so important in our district. When we speak with students about behaviors, not just the negative behaviors, we always bring the conversation to our “Code”.

In the past few weeks however, we have had some incidents of “cyber-meaness”. Why “cyber-meaness” and not cyberbullying, you might ask. For an answer I refer to Sameer Hinduja and Justin Patchin’s work Bullying: Beyond the Schoolyard, second edition and their definition of cyberbullying.

“…the willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones and other electronic devices…”

Willful: The behavior has to be deliberate, not accidental.
Repeated: Bullying reflects a pattern of behavior, not just one isolated incident.
Harm: The target must perceive that harm was inflicted.
Computers, Cell Phones and other electronic devices: This, of course, is what differentiates cyberbullying from traditional bullying.

The one element that Patchin and Hinduja seem to leave out explicitly from this list is the idea of imbalance of power. I think that the imbalance of power is definitely implied in their book about cyberbullying. I think we can sometimes lose sight of the power of a mean post online.

Let me use the example i mention above. The young person who made a single post, taking a picture of a piece of writing by another student and posting that picture on their Instagram. This was a single post, and it was discovered very early in the process This student was mortified that this could be bullying, let alone cyberbullying.

“I was just kidding”!  “I didn’t mean to hurt anyone”! These were the responses through the tears of remorse, and I do believe there was legitimate remorse with this student. This student had never been in any sort of trouble before and, in fact, had been an exemplary student in many ways during their time with us. This was very much out of character.

But, as we examined this incident using the lens offered by Hinduja and Patchin, we can see that this was indeed a real case of cyberbullying. This was very willful,  by that I mean it was deliberate post by this student. The target of this post could certainly feel that harm had come their way with this post as it was not something that was intended for the public to consume and it definitely used a computer, cell phone or electronic device to convey the message. The question comes about repeated, was this something that was repeated? My answer is a resounding YES! Think about this, this student placed out into the universe of cyberspace something that was not complimentary about another. While they only placed out there for their friends gov view, they lost control of the content. The possibility of this piece of content being repeatedly shared is exponentially increased. I think this would qualify as repeated.

It does bring to mind the Native American tale “Feathers in the Wind” which I share with the students quite often. Understanding that gossip, or any sort of unkind words, placed on the “wind”of cyberspace, take on a life of their own which the originator lost control. That misunderstanding by the originator was critical in how we dealt with them for consequences.

This video from NetSmartz is a great teaching tool for getting young kids to understand the power of gossip!

 

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