To help create a more peaceful world, the mission of PeaceMaker Minnesota is to help schools be safer places, free from bullying and harassment, and to help youth  learn positive relation skills like empathy, respect, cooperation and how to resolve conflicts peacefully.

 

Making Schools Safer by Weekly "Class Time" Program Building School Community

By Monica Gallagher

 

 

Bullying prevention in school is not merely an annual presentation, but rather an ongoing activity involving all people within the community. One of PeaceMaker Minnesota's goals is to help staff and students focus on climate improvement on a regular, intentional basis.

 

Our Class Time Certification program supports schools in making time every week for Olweus Bullying Prevention Program classroom meetings or Second Step lessons. Both of these programs are evidence-based, meaning that research shows that when fully implemented the results of reducing bullying and aggressive behaviour in youth are reduced.

 

Class Time serves at least two important purposes:

  • It recognizes classrooms as being dedicated to the prevention of bullying and the teaching of social emotional skills
  • It can provide some funding to help pay for classroom supplies, a year-end student party, additional training, t-shirts, etc.  Funding can be grouped with other classrooms to pay for a Youth Frontiers Retreat, a Climb Theatre presentation, parent speakers, a field trip, or other climate resources.

48 classrooms at Deephaven Elementary School and Highland Catholic School were accepted into our new Class Time Certification Program.  All of the classrooms plan to implement the recommended number of Olweus Bullying Prevention Program classroom meetings for their grade level. After reviewing a log of the completed meetings the classroom teachers will be recognized in PeaceMaker Minnesota communications and their school will receive a check in the amount of $120 per classroom.  

 

Martha Skold from Highland Catholic shared this about her school’s Class Time experience:

 

We love to mix up our Olweus meeting groups once in a while by combining students from different grade levels. This gives the students a chance to connect and build relationships across the whole school. It is also a wonderful opportunity for our older students to role model leadership and and kindness. After these meetings, we immediately see more students greeting each other in the hallways, cafeteria, etc. Primary students go home and tell their parents about their new middle school friend.

 

Weekly class meetings cover a variety of themes related to communication, conflict resolution, self-esteem, empathy, and more. These are often the “soft skills” many experts report correlating with long-term success in school, happy relationships, and employment. Deephaven Elementary school sends this example: This week in our Olweus classroom meetings, we will be talking about how the way you say something often means more than what you say.

 

All of the classrooms that requested entry into the program were accepted.  If there are teachers you know who may be interested in enrolling for the upcoming school year, please keep this service in mind.  Class Time Enrollment for the 2018 – 2019 school year will open in August. Classrooms teaching Second Step lessons or leading Olweus Bullying Prevention Program classroom meetings are eligible to enroll.  Click here to learn more. We also need more contributors of $120 to sponsor the classrooms prioritizing these weekly community building times.


The photo above is from a meeting at Highland Catholic in which the principal read a book to the whole school over the intercom, with photos on classroom projectors. The story focused on the strengths and gifts of each person, and how those can be shared within a community.  Students got into small groups to talk about their own strengths and gifts and how they contribute to the Highland Catholic community. The student ideas were put on hearts and displayed in the cafeteria as a school-wide project.

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