Conversations for Change
This project also has a Changeshop where you can read more about its latest progress.
Go to Changeshop: Conversations for Change.
Conversations for Change is an innovative idea that involves motivating students to create change to their school environment through anti-bullying activites.
About Your Organization
Country where this project is creating social impact
United States, AZ, Apache Junction, Pinal County
Is your organization a
Your role in Education
The type of school(s) your solution is affiliated with
How long has your organization been operating?
Less than a year
Select the stage that best applies to your solution
Start-Up (a pilot that has just begun operating)
How long has your solution been in operation?
Operating for less than a year
The Need: What problem are you trying to solve?
Too many students are bullied everyday online and at school. Too many students participate in bullying or stand idly by and do nothing. Too many students die as a result of being bullied to the point of mental anguish and exhaustion. I can't ignore the statistics, and I can't ignore the innocent lives lost. Something needs to be done. Something can be done, and it all begins with one person.
The Solution: What is your solution? Be specific!
I teach science, which involves real-world problem solving. Students are encouraged to find real solutions to problems. Most of my students were not real-world problem solvers yet. Most of them are so wrapped up with their own lives that they are not used to thinking about others. I understand where they are coming from. Most of the students at my school are at or below the poverty line, but I wanted to create a learning environment in which they begin to think about the world in a different way. I wanted them to realize they could make a real difference in their own lives and in the process, someone else’s. I began speaking out about bullying. Every Friday, I teach a lesson on bullying and have a discussion about the impacts bullying has on the students’ lives. I call these discussions, “Conversations for Change”. I teach students about empathy, tolerance, citizenship, kindness, and compassion.
The Model: Walk us through a specific example of how your solution makes a difference; include your primary activities
My students look forward to our “Conversations for Change” because they can express their concerns. I help them come up with solutions to these concerns while also have them think about these solutions for themselves. During one conversation, I asked a student about a website, and her explanation ended up turning into a heart-warming speech about the issues of bullying and standing up against it. Afterwards, this student said she would like to speak to the entire school so everyone can hear her words. At first, the principal didn’t seem very supportive about this idea, so I began encouraging my students to unite together to create some ways they could begin to change their school. After some students approached the assistant principal with some ideas, I spoke to her and asked if my students could create an anti-bullying program that could be kicked off with this one student speaking to the school. I received permission with enthusiasm, so things began to spread fast. We have set up a day for this student to speak to the entire school. Another student created a survey to collect statistics about the bullying that occurs at our school. The student who will be giving a speak will announce the local statistics as a way to help students understand that bullying does happen, and she is going to help students understand what they can do to stop it. I began to get so many requests to help create and join in on the anti-bullying program that I set up student committees to be in charge of specific activities. We are calling this new anti-bullying program “Cougars for Change”.
The Marketplace: Who are your peers and competitors? Identify others also working to address the needs you are and what differentiates you from them. What challenges could these players pose to your success or growth?
My peers and those who are for this change include other teachers, students, and parents. My main support are my students. I am encouraging administrators, teachers, and parents to get involved. My hope is to create a district-wide program where we can discuss student concerns and issues, promote a supportive environment, and inspire a change in students. While there are others who may be against bullying, I am actively trying to implement change in a tangible way. My competitors are those in the community or school who feel that bullying is simply a rite of passage to growing up. The most difficult challenge I will face is convincing people that this is something worth time, effort, energy, and resources. From what I’ve seen so far, everyone I have approached has been very supportive.
Now that you have thought out your entry, help us pitch it.
Define your company, program, service, or product in 1-2 short sentences [136 characters]
Conversations for Change is designed to promote an anti-bullying mentality in schools and inspire students to change their environment.
Identify what is innovative about your solution in 1-2 short sentences [136 characters]
Conversations for Change is meant to promote student involvement and substantial change in the school environment.
This Entry is about (Issues)
What has been the impact of your solution to date?
I have witness amazing results from what my students have already accomplished. I see the enthusiasm they possess as they tell their family and friends about our new program. Students from all different social groups work together, they give each other positive and encouraging words, and they find other ways to deal with problems or disagreements instead of fighting or name-calling. In my own classes, I have less discipline issues to deal with because students have gained more respect for me and their classmates. The classroom has become a place for them to learn because they feel safe. My students have inspired the entire school to work together to create a safe learning environment for all students. I was even amazed at how their test scores increased without any extra effort. I believe that if students feel safe at school, they can learn far more than any other teaching method out there.
What is your projected impact over the next 1-3 years?
I would like other teachers and other schools to see the results of how implementing an anti-bullying program can help all those involved in education. The anti-bullying program needs to come from students and be student-led in order to get the required results though. And I would like the other schools in this district to implement the same atmosphere of positive change and kindness. I would also like to see my students inspire other schools and districts around the state and country, so that they too can discover that something as small as kindness can have such a remarkable and everlasting change. This type of program helps students understand how much power they really possess. And that when you use it for good, it has the potential to make such a positive change to everyone.
What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?
Obstacles that a program like this might face would come from people in power who might not believe that it could produce substantial enough change to the educational environment. Luckily, I have support from administrators in my school, but I do worry about receiving support from the school’s district. The school is there to serve students and parents in the community. If students work together, and if they can get their parents to be supportive, then programs like this will be very successful. Administrators and school districts need to be supportive of parents and students since that is what makes a school successful. I have received support from parents, students, administrators, and teachers. Any obstacles that a program like this will face are nothing our students can’t overcome.
Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact
Six month goal: To have an anti-bullying program in place at Apache Junction High School.
Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your six-month milestone
Have 8th grade students come up with an anti-bullying program they can form when they become Freshmen.
Have 8th grade students talk to the high school students and encourage enthusiam for a high school program.
Get support from high school teachers and administrators.
Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone
Twelve month goal: To have an anti-bullying program in place for all schools at Apache Junction Unified School District.
Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your 12-month milestone
Gather ideas from students, parents, and teachers from all over the district.
Gather a group of students to speak to the school board about the idea of a district-wide anti-bullying program.
Train teachers and administrators on how to implement an anti-bullying program that gets students involved.
Founding Story: We want to hear about your "Aha!" moment. Share the story of where and when the founder(s) saw this solution's potential to change the world [125 words]
Early on in the school year, I had one student leave the school because she was being bullied. A few months later, I had another student interview me for an anti-bullying story she was writing for the school’s news blog. One question was, “What do you do when you see bullying happen?”. I answered her question, but it made me realize that I wasn’t doing enough as a teacher to stop or prevent bullying. After hearing this student’s story and how much she has had to endure throughout her young life, I felt I needed to step up and do something that would matter. After second semester started, I began to talk about bullying issues and how they can affect people in such a negative way. I talked about what students could do to create change, and how they could change their own environment. When this same student stood up and talked to her peers during one of our conversations, I realized that it was the students that needed to step up and create change.
Tell us about your partnerships
Our school's PTO is willing to help create any fund-raising activities that this program might need. The student council is also willing to help with any funding opportunities as well.
What type of team (staff, volunteers, etc.) will ensure that you achieve the growth milestones identified in the Social Impact section? [75 words]
My teams of student committees are already working very hard on reaching these milestones, but in order to achieve all goals, we need the help of parents, other teachers, and other administrators from around the district.
Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren't specified within the list
We need ways to spread the ideas behind our program so that others can join in and create the same learning environments. Any ideas on how to do this, or ways we can improve on our program would be very helpful.
|59 weeks ago Jessica Kucenski updated this Competition Entry.|
|59 weeks ago Jessica Kucenski said: Ravi, thanks for the comment. Most anti-bullying programs in schools usually begin at the top (Admin)and works it's way to the bottom ... about this Competition Entry. - read more >|
|59 weeks ago Ravi Saxena said: Hi Jessica, I was wondering what you've thought about in terms of a larger scale with this type of program. I think there is potential ... about this Competition Entry. - read more >|
|61 weeks ago Jessica Kucenski updated this Competition Entry.|
|64 weeks ago Jessica Kucenski updated this Competition Entry.|
|64 weeks ago Jessica Kucenski updated this Competition Entry.|
|67 weeks ago Jessica Kucenski updated this Competition Entry.|
|67 weeks ago Jessica Kucenski submitted this idea.|