The countdown continues: 4 1/2 days until I am officially finished with my first year of teaching! Woohoo! This year has definitely been a learning experience. I have come a long way from the beginning of this year, but I still have a long way to go to get to the level of teaching that I want to be. I’ll get there, but it’s just going to take some time unfortunately.
This year has been difficult. I have learned a lot about kids this year, especially adolescents. Teaching middle school is not for the faint of heart. I’ve heard things I didn’t think 12 years olds knew about. I’ve seen kids who were completely out of control. I’ve even had students come to me with very personal information. But, the one thing that I’ve seen the most of and am still learning how to deal with is bullying.
I knew bullying was a big issue before I became a teacher. The Megan Meier case happened just down the road from where I live. However, I didn’t see the extent of bullying until I was actually faced with it on a daily basis.
A few weeks ago, the awesome people at Indie Flix contacted me to preview the documentary, Finding Kind. Finding Kind is a movement, documentary, and school assembly program started by Lauren Parsekian (filmmaker) and Molly Thompson to help stop girl-against-girl bullying. Lauren and Molly are trying to bring awareness to the problem and teach girls KINDness so that hopefully we can stop the negative and lasting effects of girl-against-girl “crime”.
You would not expect these two ladies to be the victims of bullying. They are both beautiful, outspoken women that you would just automatically assume were in the “popular” crowd in high school. However, both girls dealt with bullying in the past – either as the one being bullied or as a bystander of bullying.
Believe it or not, but 100% of school-aged girls have dealt with bullying – either as the bully, the person being bullied, or as a bystander. A staggering statistic, if you ask me. And believe me, I see it. Every. Single. Day. And from girls I would never expect to either be the bully or be bullied. And just because they are the ones being bullied, doesn’t mean they don’t turn around and bully the person behind them. Sad, but true. Most kids who bully have been bullied in the past.
Unfortunately, I have been bullied in the past. Cyber bullied before cyber bullying even was a “thing”. But, I’ve also been the bystander. And, I hate to admit it, but I’ve also been the bully. And I think that more and more girls are dealing with what I went through when I was in school but to an even greater extent. I see girls getting teased every single day. I see girls who should be totally confident about the way the look, scared to change their clothes in the locker room. I see girls who are beautiful and who seem completely confident in themselves get picked on and put down for no reason.
Finding Kind really helped me realize just how much more I need to be doing to stop bullying. I struggle daily to find exactly what to say to that bully. To help explain to them the lasting impact their works and actions have on other people. I can do or say so much, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to stop.
I think the most powerful part of this film were the confessionals. Girls were able to go into a private booth set up and tell their story privately to a camera. They were able to explain how they felt when they were bullied, but even more importantly, they were able to apologize for their actions as well. Their pain just absolutely broke my heart and all I could think about was how to help my students, but most of all, how could I protect my baby, my little MacKenna from this as she grows up.
Towards the end of the movie, a psychologist told a story of a man and his son. The man was asked what he wanted for his son out of his life. The man’s reply? He wanted his son to be kind. To treat others the way he would want to be treated and to help others when needed.
I may never be able to help every single one of my students, as much as I might try. I may never be able to protect MacKenna from bullying as she grows up. But, as a teacher, as a person who is closer to this situation than anyone else, what I can do is to teach my students to be kind. I’m not exactly sure how to do this, but I feel that it is my job. My job to teach respect to others. To instill in my students (and child) good character, to teach them to be kind to one another. It’s the least I can do, and if I can teach one child to change their actions or to just think about how their words affect other students, I know that I’ve made a difference.
If you are a teacher, if you are a parent, if you have been bullied or been a bullied, or have any remote interest in helping to prevent bullying, I recommend that you check out Finding Kind. And I’m going to give you that chance. Ten (yes 10) of you will win a 2-month subscription to Indie Flix to view Finding Kind and any other movie they have on their site. You can find anything from documentaries to short films to classics. They have a wide variety of films to watch from any genre you can think of! All you need to do is enter below…
The giveaway runs until 12 AM on Monday, May 20. And even if you don’t win, you can watch the movie for FREE for the next week. Good luck!
Have you ever been bullied or been a bully? Does it still impact you today?
Luckily, I remember that I was bullied but it hasn’t made a lasting impression on my life. I’m one of the lucky ones.
**Disclaimer: Indie Flix offered me a 3-month trial subscription in exchange with a review of Finding Kind. I was not compensated for my review. All opinions are my own.**