Core curriculum lessons were developed and delivered to all three grade levels. Lessons were based on our department goals, as well as our vision and mission for our local school counseling program. We have chosen to closely exam and analyze three lessons.
All students in all grades were given a pre-test and a post-test during the core curriculum lesson to determine their previous knowledge and assess knowledge gained after the lesson. Our perception data showed that prior to the core curriculum lessons, many students didn’t know that bullying is against the law. The results from the pre and post tests revealed that the after the core curriculum lesson, the majority (79% of sixth grade students, 93% of seventh grade students, and 84% of eighth grade students) were able to define bullying. Post-Test results showed that all (100%) students realized that bullying is against the law. Students showed significant gains in understanding the three types of bullying. Each grade level school counselor also shared the definition of bullying as defined by Georgia law. All grade level lessons also included teaching students our local school bullying protocol. Our local school bullying protocol was also shared with administrators, teachers, and all staff members during pre-planning week in August, prior to students’ first day of school.
Many times middle school students confuse conflict and bullying. In many instances our counseling department has received parent phone calls, counseling referrals from teachers, and student referrals, stating that a student is being bullied. Upon investigation, once we have spoken to all parties involved, it is in fact student conflict. Each lesson in sixth, seventh, and eighth grades focused on teaching students the difference between student conflict and bullying.
Our counseling department also completed a staff development with all administrators, teachers, and support staff on the How to Handle Student Conflict. In consultation with our principal and teachers, we created a Conflict Complaint Form. Once students report an ongoing student conflict to their classroom teacher, each student involved in the conflict is asked to complete this form. Teachers are required to investigate the conflict by reading each student’s conflict complaint forms and contact all parents of student’s involved in the conflict. Teachers are also required implement strategies within their classroom to support the students. In regards to bullying, we also provided teachers with a Do’s and Don’ts of Bullying checklist.
The sixth grade lesson was based on the research-based curriculum, Second Step. The sixth grade lesson focused mainly on bullying. Sixth graders learned a general definition of bullying, while also learning the Georgia law regarding bullying. Students learned how to deal with student conflict and how to appropriately respond to conflict with others. The sixth grade counselor also taught the local school bullying protocol that involves informing teachers, parents, administration, and counselors.
The seventh grade lesson started with an overview of the Second Step sixth grade lesson. The seventh grade counselor created a Jeopardy game to teach students about bullying. Students enjoyed this interactive lesson that included the use of a popular game show. The seventh grade lesson also taught students about other forms of harassment, such as sexual harassment and cyber bullying. During the lesson, students were taught how to remain safe while on social media from those who may intend them harm.
The eighth grade lesson focused on bullying, with a strong focus on sexual harassment. Our administrative staff saw an increase by eighth graders of referrals related to inappropriate touching and comments. Eighth grade students received information regarding how sexual harassment can affect one’s feelings, self-worth, and desire to attend school. Types of sexual harassment were discussed in class, such as requests/sending nude photographs or videos to other students, asking students about their sexuality or gender preference, and requesting sexual favors.
The main goal of this core curriculum unit was to help our overall school lessen the number of Rule 5 discipline referrals for the year. Rule 5 discipline referrals include abuse, threats, intimidation, assault, or battery by a student on another student. Comparing last year’s discipline summary, to this year’s discipline summary, regarding Rule 5 referrals, showed an 11% decrease. (295 referrals in 2015-2016 as compared to 262 referrals in 2016 – 2017).