Creating Safe Spaces: Lesson Plans for Social-Emotional Learning
Why Early Intervention Matters
- Creates an overall culture of respect and understanding in schools
- Implements character education and social skills training in the classroom
- Tailors interventions to the incident, individual(s) involved and factors that influence behaviors
- Community Building
- Problem Solving
- Understanding and Handling Feelings
- Dealing with Diversity
Why Anti-Bullying Matters
|Those Involved||Lasting Impact|
Students who are bullied
Depression, low self-esteem, health problems, poor grades, suicidal thoughts.
Observers of bullying
Fearful, powerless to act, guilty for not acting, tempted to participate.
Students who bully others
Get into frequent fights, report poor grades, perceive negative environment at school
Schools with bullying issues
Develop environments of fear and disrespect, students feel insecure, students may have difficulty learning, students perceive that teachers/staff have minimal control over and care for bullying situations
Using You Matter to Build Safe Spaces
Activity: The Wall of Caring
- 1 You Matter Care Card per student [Download]
- Colorful pens or markers
- Stickers, glitter, glue, tape (all optional to decorate the card)
- Choose a date when the theme of bullying prevention and kindness may be relevant:
- World Bullying Prevention Day: The first Monday in October
- Random Act of Kindness Week: The second full week in February
- MLK Jr. Day of Service: The third Monday in January
- Another holiday you think is appropriate
- Introduction: Lead a discussion about the importance of being kind and caring and showing support for your peers. Explain the importance of caring for friends and telling friends why they matter.
- Activity. Give a You Matter Care card to each student. Ask each student to think of another student whom they would like to send an anonymous message to and then fill in the blank: “You Matter because of _______.” Encourage students to decorate the cards to add a personal touch. Note: Cards should be anonymous so that the final compilation of messages will apply to all students.
- Build the Care Wall: Have students take their completed You Matter Care cards and place them on the Care Wall. Once each card is up on the wall, the facilitator invites the class to read all of the messages.
- How do you feel that one of the cards may have been written with you in mind?
- How did it feel to tell someone else that they matter to you?
- Why do you think it’s important to express the positive thoughts we have about our classmates?
- Encourage students to vocalize their positive thoughts when they have them and perform acts of kindness that show their classmates that they matter.
- Ask the class to keep this theme in mind in the coming days and weeks. Encourage them to keep adding to the Care Wall when they have something nice to say about a classmate.
Activity: The You Matter Game
- The group stands in a circle facing outward with their eyes closed in silence. Ask for volunteers to raise their hands. Let students know that not everyone who wants to volunteer will be selected each time, but there will be multiple opportunities to be a volunteer.
- Select two individuals to step into the circle and say, “Without speaking, tap X number of people who matter because of _______.” (Note: The lesson instructor should participate in this activity.)
- After the volunteers finish tapping the stated number of people, they step back into the circle in silence.
- Continue this procedure with the following statements, asking for a new group of volunteers each time.
- Tap six people who matter because they did something kind for you.
- Tap three people who matter because you look up to them.
- Tap two people who matter because they are your friends.
- Tap five people who matter because they make you feel special.
- Tap four people who matter because they are nice to others.
- Tap five people who matter because they are smart.
- Tap six people who matter because they are hard workers.
- Tap three people who matter because they are good role models.
- Tap two people who matter because they taught you something.
- Tap seven people who matter because they are brave.
Activity: Important Figures in Human Rights
- Autobiography, biography or historical fiction book
- Paper, pens, writers notebooks
- Select a date when the theme of bullying prevention, kindness and acceptance may be relevant. Events may include, but are not limited to:
- World Bullying Prevention Day: The first Monday in October.
- Random Act of Kindness Week: The second full week of February.
- Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service: The third Monday in January.
- Any other events, holidays or days that are appropriate.
- Introduction: After the class has read the assigned book (either as a group or independently), lead the students in a critical thinking discussion about the impact that the subject of the book had on society.
- Activity: After the critical thinking discussion, students will complete a one-to-two-page writing assignment that answers the following questions:
- Who is it about? Who is the main character of the book?
- What happened? What major event in history took place?
- Why did it happen? What injustice or intolerance happened, and to what group of people, that sparked change?
- When and where did it take place? Place the event in historical context.
- How does the subject’s message, mission or overall achievement align with the You Matter campaign? How did he or she remind the public that they matter?
Activity: ‘Spreading the Good’ Scavenger Hunt
- 2-3 You Matter Care Cards per student
- Permission from administrators and parents to take students off school grounds
- Markers, pens, and pencils
- Leave a Care card containing a positive message where someone else will see it. Locations can include a school bulletin board, a school or town landmark, a newspaper or somewhere unique or random.
- Give a Care card to someone who needs to be uplifted.
- Give a Care card to someone who makes your day easier (could include lunch aides, bus drivers, attendance monitors, etc.)
- Perform a random act of kindness, just because.
- Catch someone else doing a random act of kindness.
- Have students write positive messages on sticky notes and place the notes on Care cards. Do not have students write directly on the Care card — this way those who find the cards throughout the community have the chance to pass it on!
- Perform one of the You Matter scavenger hunt activities.
- Take photos of students doing one of the deeds — placing a card somewhere, performing an act of kindness, etc. Encourage the students to be creative!
- Upload the images to Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. This step is not required. Be sure to check your school’s social media policies if you wish to do this.
- Repeat! The team or student to score the most points wins! The prize is up to you. You may brainstorm with students ahead of time so that the reward is aligned with their interests.