An Interview with Nate Jackson, OUSD Teacher of the Year!

Four years ago, we couldn’t have predicted the end of schoolyard bullying with the end of schoolyards. We didn’t expect a 21st century American president to become the living example of shameless, careless, righteous, unstoppable bullying behaviors.

Nate Jackson, who this year was named OUSD’s Teacher of the Year, is now the District’s Physical Education specialist. In this 2016 interview with me (author Kristen Caven), we shared our thoughts and insights on bullying—what it is and isn’t, how it happens on the playground, how P.E. can help.

When I asked Nate what was different now, he said, “Things haven’t changed much when it comes to bullying. I feel like it’s the opposite, now; everyone has to be even more careful because student self esteem is so fragile. We as teachers have to make extra sure that they, and adults, are connected with at school.” He continues, “It’s hard to make friends and connect though zoom. It’s hard for kids to read the emotions of others, and express how they’re feeling on Zoom.”

Technology creates new problems. “While some students have the technologies and family support, as well as a quiet place to learn, others are finding themselves the head of household while their parents are working.” But even these problems seem small compared to the bigger issues. “There’s sooooo much more going on that puts education on the back burner. We’re trying to understanding what really matters… education or survival?”

I think what he’s saying is get out there and vote. Vote against bullies and short-term thinking. Vote for our national well-being.

The Sweet Tweet to Save Lives

In this BBC report about school pressure and suicide, it comes clear how bad bullying is in one of the world’s most high-achieving countries.

According to the Japanese cabinet office, 1 September is historically the day the largest number of children under 18 have taken their own lives.

Between 1972 and 2013, of the 18,048 children who killed themselves, on average 92 did so on 31 August, 131 on 1 September and 94 on 2 September.

The numbers were also high in early April when the first semester begins in the Japanese school calendar.

On seeing the statistic earlier this month, Maho Kawai, a librarian in Kamakura, tweeted: “The second semester is almost upon us. If you are thinking of killing yourself because you hate school so much, why not come to us? We have comics and light novels.

“No-one would tell you off if you spend all day here. Remember us as your refuge if you’re thinking of choosing death over school in September.”

It was a controversial move for the library, which is part of the city’s education committee, not to encourage children to stay in school. The director of the library Takashi Kikuchi told the BBC that there was even talk of deleting the tweet.

But it touched many hearts and within 24 hours, it was retweeted more than 60,000 times.

japanese library tweet

Take a Peek Inside a Trauma-Sensitive School

What other schools might see as bullying, San Francisco’s El Dorado Elementary recognizes as children acting out trauma. Check out these excerpts from an ACEs Too High article… that reported an 89% drop in suspensions!

“Many teachers and principals think kids’ “bad” behavior is deliberate, and that the kids can control it. But it’s often not and they can’t – not without help, says Dorado. Their behaviors are a normal response to stresses they’re not equipped to deal with. Throwing a punch makes sense if they’re jumping in to defend their mother from an alcoholic raging father; screaming in fury is a normal reaction to a bully who continuously harasses them. But when the raised voice of a teacher or a counselor who’s criticizing them inadvertently triggers the same response, these behaviors look “abnormal, rude, or inappropriate,” says Dorado. “So, they’re getting kicked out of class and disengage from school. That puts our kids at incredible risk for later problems, including imprisonment.”

Continue reading