I'd like to read some other teachers' thoughts on something that came about today that I have a problem with. Maybe I'm being unreasonable, and if so, hopefully some other perspectives will help me resign myself to this. Before I launch into the explanation, let me first say that I know bullying exists everywhere. Having been bullied mercilously myself throughout elementary and junior high, I understand the serious nature of this problem.
A particular student (I'll call her "student") plays the victim role really well. She and other girls constantly go back and forth, and if one side lets the "girl drama" die, the other side re-launches it. She, however (according to her), is never guilty of anything, only the victim.
This drama got seriously out of hand (mostly due to the direct actions and behavior of "student") and was finally capped.
Today, however, I found out that it was approved for her to give a presentation of her own creation to the junior high and high schools on bullying. I have some issues with this.
1) She is a bully as much as she is bullied.
2) Two, since she has never admitted any fault, I feel this just gives her validation to her incorrect beliefs that everyone else is at fault.
3) There are wonderful, engaging, effective presentations done by professionals - people whose business it is to educate youth
4) The establishment of a precedent - if "student" is allowed to create and conduct an assembly, how can student B or C be denied?
Am I being unreasonable? Although I personally have not had good experiences with this student (having been burned by manipulation and twisting of a conversation she and I had), I really don't feel that that is the issue - I just don't think it's professionally appropriate. Am I wrong?
I am curious if there are other teachers in the building who see this girl's two-faced nature as clearly as you do. Perhaps if a group of teachers were to approach the administrator who approved this not-so-good idea and express their concerns collectively, the assembly could be steered in a safer direction?
Another, sneakier idea that comes into my head is to subtly encourage several other students to ask for their own assemblies immediately. If that starts to happen now, before assembly #1 gets done, maybe those in charge will recognize the problem they have created for themselves and cancel the whole deal.
Giving a drama queen the stage in front of the whole school is a dreadful miscalculation on the part of someone - it sounds like the last thing this student needs is empowerment.
I agreee with your take on this situation, and it is a rather iffy situation. The best case scenario might be that in the course of presenting on bullying, "student" will come to learn something and will become more self-aware, stop playing the part she has played in the past, and teach others how to grow up.
Is she being given guidance in shaping and preparing her presentation? Maybe the person or people over-seeing this assembly can do some mentoring with her and really push her toward the best case scenario.
I would question how the adults in the school are participating in this assembly. Are they approving her speech? Are they helping craft the message of the day? Are they too going to speak to the issue of bullying? I think that students have a powerful voice in this conversation, but that it is the adults who need to have control of the forum. What you presented above sounds like it has the potential to blow up in a lot of different ways.
I agree that if she is allowed to speak, others should also be allowed to participate. A panel seems a better idea than a single presenter. Perhaps students themselves could even vote concerning who should be a member of the panel. How did it come about that this particular student was offered this opportunity? Does anyone else object? Is her reputation, as you've outlined it, well known among other teachers?
I can see why giving the floor to this madam causes you concern. Could her presentation be part of something which involves other students and is managed by a teacher? Perhaps she could be encouraged to attend some training or a course that she could 'feed back" on (and hopefully learn something in the process).
I am also interested in who approved her giving the assembly and why - surely other teachers involved with the student should be allowed to state their opinion on this issue? It smacks a little of a student being allowed to give her two cents on an issue, and as a school you could really open up the floodgates on this one.
I would agree with previous posts that express concern about allowing a precedent to be set with this idea. Can you "suggest" to 'student' that your guidance counselors would undoubtedly have valuable resources and suggestions about the topic and that they would probably appreciate the opportunity to become involved in the planning and presentation of this assembly? If you don't feel you can suggest this, maybe you can find someone else who will be able to do so.
Some involvement by others might reduce the vindictive content and add some validity to the assembly's content. I definitely hope there will be opportunity for Q&A and follow-up sessions after the assembly.
Hopefully, there will be a Q&A during or after the presentation and, with any luck, one of the girls from the opposing group will openly question the presenter about being a bully herself. This story reminds me of why I hated teaching middle school so much: Too much drama--especially between girls--untruthful students, and administrators who fail to take action to quell the problem.
Just based on what you've said, it does not sound like a good idea. It seems likely that other students will want to put on assemblies as you've said. My guess is that the administration will then realize what they've done and try to make up reasons why other students can't put assemblies on. This will lead to anger among the students who don't get to put their assemblies on. Sounds pretty iffy...
it is a great exposure for those learners afraid of public speaking and a means of expressing views from the learners point of views!!