The Absolute Best School Climate Blogging (This Week): Malala Edition

By Evie Blad — October 10, 2014 1 min read
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Happy Friday, Rules readers! I’ve got some great links to share with you about school climate and student well-being.

But first, let’s talk about the wonderful news that 17-year-old Pakistani Malala Yousafzai was named the youngest ever winner of the Nobel Peace Prize this morning. As Teaching Now reported:

“Yousafzai gained international prominence in October 2012 after she and two other girls, Shazia Ramzan and Kainat Riaz, were shot on a school bus by members of the Taliban, which actively seeks to repress women’s education. Yousafzai spent time recovering in England, where she now lives.”

Here are some pieces about Malala that could spark valuable class discussions:

Now, about those links...

This week, we read about sexting, bullying, school lunches, dress codes, and more.

On sexting...

I spend my professional life trying to help and support a comparatively vulnerable population of adolescents make good decisions involving their technology use. And when nude pictures sent initially between possible or actual romantic partners get spread much more widely involving adolescents, it sometimes leads to disastrous consequences, like cyberbullying, threats, extortion, and suicide." —The Cyberbullying Research Center uses the recent Jennifer Lawrence photo leak to discuss sexting, cyberbullying, and appropriate online behavior for teens. The site also has a useful list of ways to report inappropriate posts on various social media networks.

What is bullying, exactly?

There's a tremendous disconnect between how the term is used colloquially by students, teachers, and parents, and how researchers and advocacy types define it." —I'm shamelessly tooting my own horn by linking to my article about how schools, researchers, and the public use very different definitions for bullying and how those differences hinder efforts to stop it.

Maybe it depends on who’s defining it...

To me, being bullied is a subjective experience that will vary between individuals. The same mean comment may have little effect on one child, but may be a significant trigger for another." —Bullying researcher Deborah Temkin (also quoted in my article) writes that an objective definition of bullying may not be as important for schools as supporting students who feel victimized by their peers, regardless of the precise nature of the victimization.

Start early to fix attendance...

It's clear that we can improve attendance and, with it, achievement—if we pay attention to who is missing too much school for any reason and use the data to take positive, supportive action. Now, still early in the school year, is the time to start." —This commentary talks about the importance of addressing poor student attendance early in the academic year.

Does Mikey like it?

But when school started, many students did notice. Within weeks, social media filled with photos of skimpy meals and sullen teenagers, some using the hashtag #ThanksMichelleObama and #BrownBagginIt." —The New York Times Magazine explores the school lunch wars.

On yoga pants and prostitutes...

Some teachers allegedly said that the school's girls looked like prostitutes; the school's assistant principal later commented that this was probably not the best choice of words." —Teaching Now brings us a cautionary tale of how not to explain your school's dress code to female students: by comparing them to the main character from "Pretty Woman."


Ew!" —In this video, Jimmy Fallon and parody the stage of life where teens react with disgust to pretty much everything.

Photo: Malala Yousafzai, 16, poses for photographs in 2013 in New York. --Frank Franklin II/AP

A version of this news article first appeared in the Rules for Engagement blog.