Last spring’s Michigan Teacher of the Year, Melody Arabo, joined us today to talk about her first book, A Diary of a Real Bully.
Arabo’s book stems from her third grade classroom at Keith Elementary School in Walled Lake. There, she witnessed bullying and was shocked to find out which kids unveiled themselves as the bullies.
The book, she said, was inspired by patterns she saw emerge in her classroom.
“There was something that happened around springtime each year, where some of my nicest, brightest students would start to show some mean behaviors, some of the mean girl behaviors and then also, just a little more aggression between the boys,” she said. “And I was just so surprised by that, because I don’t remember bullying happening in third grade and I definitely wouldn’t expect those students to be doing the bullying.”
Arabo talked about how her students, and their parents, would become defensive upon hearing the word “bully.” Part of the problem, she said, comes from misleading stereotypes about bullying – stereotypes maintained by movies like “Mean Girls.”
“What we really have are very nice kids with good hearts who maybe make bad choices and behave in a mean way sometimes,” she said.
In Arabo’s opinion, it’s important for teachers and adults to alter their language. Saying “you’re acting like a bully” is preferable to “you are a bully.”
“That makes them much more willing to take responsibility for their actions and to apologize and to make that change, because they know that doesn’t identify who they are as a person, but it definitely makes them more aware of how they treat others,” she said.
To hear more from Arabo regarding bullying and her book, listen above. For even more on her book, visit her website.