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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Teacher's Perspective - Mandee talks about bullying + Giveaway

 I have a new perspective today. Mandee has offered her teacher's perspective on bullying today and has also donated a giveaway as well. She also runs Books & Bling. Please welcome her!
As a middle school teacher, I’ve witnessed the ugly side of bullying up close. I’ve seen the devastating impact a bully can have on his or her victims. I’ve also felt the pain a bully feels.  There are reasons why a kid becomes a bully and those stories are just as real and full of destruction as the victims’ stories. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not sticking up for bullies or excusing their behavior. I am a teacher. Students are my cause. I fight for them. All of them. In my mind and in my heart, these kids are my kids. They are OUR kids. And they are all worth fighting for.
But, I often feel helpless as a teacher. Yes, I do everything I can do to stop bullying. Yes, I point the kids (both the bullies and the victims) in the direction of help. I spend time with parents, guidance counselors, and administrators. We’re always discussing, problem solving, listening, and connecting.  Unfortunately, that isn’t always effective. It isn’t always enough. Some kids are mean. Some are sensitive. Some don’t have support at home. There are friendless kids, annoying kids, weird kids, cruel kids, and at least a million other types of kids. There are kids who are surrounded by love and there are kids who only come to school to for the food. Thankfully, the majority of my students do have what they need and are being raised in households that give them the best that they can offer. But, what about the ones who aren’t? These are the kids who keep me up at night.
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how I can help the kids who need it. Making connections is a big part of what I do as a teacher. I connect kids to knowledge. I connect them to the world, to life, to reality. I connect them to the big picture and to the future. The most important connection I can help my students make is to themselves. Through literature, I can help them see themselves and the world through new eyes. This is the way we teach empathy, compassion, and kindness. This is my legacy.
Here are some of the books that I use with my middle school students:
Wonder by RJ Palacio is about a boy who was born with severe facial deformities. Told from varying perspectives, Auggie’s world is rocked when he attends school for the first time. Everyone he meets is impacted by him. Wonder is one of the best books I’ve read in years. The multiple perspectives make Auggie’s world real and the lessons powerful.
Dear Bully: Seventy Authors Tell Their Stories by Dawn Metcalf, Megan Kelley Hall and Carrie Jones is an amazing collection of memories written by YA authors. Told by bullies, the bullied, and the witnesses, this anthology has something for everyone. Some of the pieces are more mature than others, but all of them are awesome!
AS King is one of my favorite authors.  She writes from the heart and doesn’t hold back. She often deals with tough issues in her brilliant novels, but does so with a style that is total art. Please Ignore
Vera Dietz, Everybody Sees the Ants,
& her latest Ask the Passengers all pull you inside of worlds that  are both real and fantastical. Her writing is beautiful, her stories are powerful, and her characters will kick you in the face (I mean that in the best possible way).
13 Reasons Why  by Jay Asher is a tough read. It hurts. It takes you on a journey lead by 13 cassette tapes and a map. Hannah Baker is dead. She killed herself. She has 13 reasons and Clay is one of them. This book is freaking amazing! Read it, share it, then read it again.
There are so many other excellent books that deal with bullying, but the list above contains my current favorites. They are books that I believe will stand the test of time. In order to stop bulling, we need to build compassion in our young people. We need to talk tough issues with them and call them on the stuff that needs to end. We need to do this all with love, kindness, and empathy.   

Mandee is a teacher in a suburb of Atlanta, GA. She is an avid reader and can be found online at:, on Twitter @ohmandee, or in a cozy corner snuggled up with her husband Schmoopy, her cat Shakespeare, and a good story.

Mandee has kindly donated a copy of Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King. 

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