Teacher's Trick Helps Prevent Bullying And Identifies Kids 'Falling Through The Cracks'

"All outward violence begins as inner loneliness."

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When it comes to bullying, both parents and teachers try their best to be vigilant, but sometimes the signs can go unnoticed, or worse, are only discovered after it's too late. But one Florida teacher named Kathy Pitt isn't letting that happen. 

In a post on her blog Momastery, parent Glennon Doyle Melton shared a story about her son's teacher, and her brilliant trick to monitor each and every student in her classroom and their treatment of one another. 

Every Friday, Pitt passes out index cards to each child and ask them to name four classmates they'd like to sit with next week, and to nominate one student they believe was "an exceptional student citizen" that week. According to Glennon, the students submit their ballots privately, knowing their answers may or may not be honored. Answers are later analyzed by Pitt, who checks for any social patterns that may be concerning. 

"[My son's]  teacher is looking for lonely children," Melton explained in her post. "She's looking for children who are struggling to connect with other children. She's identifying the little ones who are falling through the cracks of the class's social life. She is discovering whose gifts are going unnoticed by their peers. And she's pinning down — right away — who's being bullied and who is doing the bullying."

Pitt's clever method works because she is studying the children's natural social environment. "When I came up with the idea of distributing the cards, it really was to find out which children were belonging and which children were not," Pitt told Today. The names who appeared the least on the cards are the ones she pays special attention to and encourages other children to connect with.

The longtime educator says she started doing this exercise after the tragic Columbine High School shooting back in 1999. 

"This brilliant woman watched Columbine knowing that all violence begins with disconnection," Melton wrote. "All outward violence begins as inner loneliness. She watched that tragedy knowing that children who aren't being noticed will eventually resort to being noticed by any means necessary." 

It's important that all children feel seen and cared for, not only by teachers and parents, but by their peers too. Pitt encourages her students to get to know students were are often left out, and it's paying off.  

"Now I've gotten to know [my classmates] better," said one student.

"We're starting to become a real team," said another. 

Through enforcing this practice of kindness and inclusion with her students, Pitts is establishing a fundamental empathy and awareness in her students that will ultimately make them a better person. 

"I hope the message they're getting is I care about you and I want you to care about each other," Pitt said.

Cover image via  Brian A Jackson i Shutterstock

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