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There’s nothing worse than seeing a child who has been bullied and not knowing how to help. So often kids bully when adults aren’t around. Even if you as the teacher can step in and put a stop to behavior that you see in class, you know that there are probably things happening behind the scenes that you are missing. One of the most powerful things a teacher can do to stop bullying is teach students how to handle themselves when they come face-to-face with a bully.
That’s why I was excited to check out Cool School, a new curriculum designed to teach students how to respond if they are bullied or if they see someone else being bullied. It also helps identify bullying behaviors so that children who bully can learn more appropriate ways to interact with people too.
What makes Cool School different from other social emotional curriculums is that it is video-based and interactive! Students watch computer-animated kids navigate a variety of bullying scenarios. The videos show kids making both wise and poor choices. Then, two special secret-agent characters, Commander Curtis (who is a cat) and Agent Bernard (who is, of course, a St. Bernard), walk your students through the pros and cons of each decision.
Because children see the consequences of the different scenarios, they are able to make better decisions about their own behavior when faced with similar challenges. The curriculum provides resources so that teachers can have follow-up discussions with their students in the classroom. There’s also a built-in incentive program to encourage children to put the new social skills that they are learning through the videos into practice every day.
You’ll recognize most of the scenarios in the curriculum because, just like me, you have watched them play out in your own classroom time and time again. It was almost as if the people who wrote the curriculum had been hanging out on my school playground taking notes and writing down quotes. You’ll have buy-in from your students because they will recognize themselves in the characters whether they’ve been the bully or the victim.
I found myself wanting to go back in time to show key videos to certain students. I wanted Madison to see the one about kids who kept changing the rules to the game at recess when they’d lose. That had bugged her for days, and I had struggled to equip her to manage the situation. I also wanted to show Henry the one about how to handle the boy who was harassing kids online when they were playing a video game together. That issue had an entire group of parents up in arms. If I had been able to show the Cool School videos to my class, I could have given all of the kids better tools to handle these situations. It would have helped Madison who was being bullied. It would have helped Henry, who was watching someone else be bullied, and it even would have helped the bullies to understand that their behavior wasn’t acceptable.
Fun Secret Agent Theme
Another thing I love about Cool School is its fun “Secret Agent” narrative, capitalizing on kids’ universal interest in all things mysterious. In the videos, Commander Curtis and Agent Bernard monitor schoolyard drama from their Cool School Command Center and break down the events as they occur. As they work their way through the curriculum, kids progress with Agent Bernard and Commander Curtis through different Secret Agent levels. They start out as an Agent in Training and by the end of the program have been promoted to a full-fledged Cool School Secret Agent. There are badges to earn at each level and even “Promo Passes” that are part of the incentive program.
Plenty of Resources for Teachers
The Cool School curriculum comes with a guidebook that walks teachers through the program. The discussion guides are particularly useful—it’s easy to sit kids down in front of the interactive whiteboard to show them a video or two, but it’s more challenging to facilitate a discussion afterward where children can respond to the different events they saw in the videos. The guidebook offers specific advice for leading these important discussions that can have as big of an impact on kids as the videos themselves. Between the guidebook and the interactive videos, you’ll have what you need to teach kids how to navigate each of the tricky social situations in the curriculum.
Interested in learning more about the Cool School curriculum? Check it out here: Cool School Central