District 24 has made use of its Emotional Literacy program for years, which helps students regulate their emotions through literature. The district uses strategies like Mood Meters, Meta Moments and R.U.L.E.R. (Recognize, Understand, Label, Express and Regulate your emotions), each of which teaches students to discuss their feelings and help resolves issues in a positive manner.
Superintendent Dr. Edward Fale doubles as the district’s dignity coordinator and said the Dignity Act is a major breakthrough in the world of education. Fale added that it’s important for students to realize how what they say can be perceived. The district “needs to educate and focus on why a statement can be hurtful,” he said. “Young children may not realize how things they say may be hurtful.”
Fale also said the district needs to take a look at its conflict resolution program to expand the sections on prejudice and bias. “When we originally wrote the program, email, texting, Facebook were more in the stages of just being developed,” he said, “but we have to look more closely now at the types of communication between and amongst students and also between and amongst parents, adults and students that take place electronically.”
One of the biggest concerns for educators is students’ usage of technology and the growing reports of cyberbullying. The Dignity Act will feature a new section on cyberbullying that debuts on July 1, 2013, which gives school districts greater guidelines and responsibilities to combat cyberbullying.
In District 30, the staff will begin to go over ways to prevent cyberbullying later in the school year. Amy Pernick, assistant principal at Shaw Avenue School, serves as the district’s dignity coordinator.
Pernick has attended training seminars and conferences about the Dignity Act in recent months and then brought that knowledge back to the school community. Custodians were trained over the summer and the rest of the staff was taught once the school year started.