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Linden Provides Educators Expertise on Anti-Bullying

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Linden students thrive in an environment where relationships are strong and authentic, and where inclusiveness, acceptance, and diversity are celebrated.

By Janice Gladstone, Principal

 "It's a pleasure to consult with other schools. It gives us a chance to clarify our goals as we weave social-emotional learning into our curriculum, and also helps us reflect on what a special community we have at Linden." —Beth Alexander, Linden Teacher and Curriculum Leader

From time to time, Linden is called upon to offer pedagogical expertise to our educational partners. We recently met with guidance counselors at a nearby independent school and provided them with our expertise in anti-bullying practices. Linden teachers Ruthie Szamosi, Beth Alexander, and Soteira Briginshaw joined me in discussing our approach towards the creation of a warm and inviting space for our students where they can feel safe, free, and uninhibited. 

At Linden, it is not always easy. Students new to the school may have come from places where bullying was possible or even prevalent. These students are supported by classmates and faculty as they learn to trust people and develop more empathetic behaviours. Some schools offer character education programs, but at Linden, these traits are reinforced by us in a more holistic, organic way. For instance, we don't have an "honesty" month since we just expect honesty all the time.

Our teacher-student relationships are based on mutual respect and kindness. The power imbalance that exists in most schools between students and teachers is much smaller at Linden and students are used to having their voices heard and their opinions valued. They are used to being treated with kindness and respect by the adults and they, in turn, learn to treat each other with kindness and respect.

In many schools, students will only receive help if they come forward to speak with someone. At Linden, if a student is sitting alone, there will always be someone on hand to check in with them and see if they are all right. Of course, our school culture also supports students coming to adults for assistance with relationship issues. We use restorative practices with our students so that when things go wrong, our priority is to restore relationships rather than to punish people. 

An important part of our practice includes coaching students on how to share leadership and space. They see that leadership sometimes involves stepping back to give someone else the opportunity to be heard. Linden teachers will take the time to help students work through social challenges within their classrooms, knowing that time spent on these matters is as valuable a learning opportunity as any other academic topic.