Quaden Bayles: The Untold Truth?

An article by Richard James Rogers (Bestselling author of The Quick Guide to Classroom Management and The Power of Praise: Empowering Students Through Positive Feedback).

Lots of people around the world have been touched and saddened by the recent viral video of Quaden Bayles: a 9-year-old child with dwarfism who’s been bullied rather severely at school. In the video, the child’s mother, Yarraka Bayles, describes her son as being suicidal, and calls on parents and schools to educate their children about the damaging effects of bullying.

The video is upsetting, and has prompted an enormous response from a wide-range of people. Hugh Jackman, for example, sent out this tweet and accompanying video of support:

 

In addition to this, a GoFundMe page started by American comedian Brad Williams raised more than $340,000 to send Bayles on a trip to Disneyland in California.

And yesterday, Quaden was the star of the show when he led out an indigenous rugby league team in an exhibition match in Queensland against the New Zealand Maoris.

The response to the video really has been enormous, and it has been encouraging to see the human spirit work collectively in an outpouring of support for this young boy.

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Three concerns about this story

The video was upsetting, and it made me reflect on my time at school when I was bullied. It was horrible.

My mother didn’t film me crying and then spread it all over the internet, however, and that’s where I’ll begin my description of my three concerns.

#1: The mother’s actions were irresponsible and somewhat damaging

In the video, as the boy is crying, the mother comes out with such quotes as:

“This is the effects that bullying has”

“This is what bullying does”

“All it takes is for one more incident, and you wonder why kids are killing themselves”

You can watch the original video here:

None of this behavior actually helps her child. Instead of openly accepting that the child is suicidal and continually stating how terrible bullying is (reinforcing a victim mindset), the mother should be saying words to the effect of “Don’t think like that, Quaden. Stay strong. This is unacceptable and we are going to stop it. You must not accept this bullying. We’ll find out who these bullies are and I’ll be speaking to their parents. We will stop this.”

This ‘victim reinforcement’ by the mother won’t help Quaden in life – what’s he going to do when he’s pushed around and picked-on outside of school, when he’s an adult?

Sorry, but he’s going to have to learn to stand-up for himself.

The mother also swears profusely in front of the child in the video, exacerbating the situation and showing that she’s not in-control and can’t cope. I accept that she was probably emotional and used swear-words to express herself, but it was still a bad move and certainly didn’t help the child deal with this particular incident.

#2: Has the school been contacted?

After searching around on the web for hours I couldn’t actually ascertain which school Quaden attended. I wanted to know this information, because I wanted to contact the school to clarify what their anti-bullying policies and procedures were, and how they were implemented.

It seems that I was looking in all the wrong places, as a friend on Facebook sent me this article, which states that Quaden was recently pulled out of Carina State School in Brisbane following this incident. 

According to the article, Quaden was at Carina for only three weeks before his mum pulled him out because of the bullying. In one incident, the Brisbane Bullets (an Australian pro basketball team) were invited to school, and as Quaden was lining up to get his singlet signed, a fellow student patted him on the head “like a puppy” and made references to his height. 

It was immediately after that incident that Yarraka Bayles, Quaden’s mother, made the video.

I will admit that I am very lucky in that I teach at a school where virtually no bullying occurs. I teach at an international school in Bangkok, and my school successfully manages student behavior as it relates to bullying by:

  1. Having a very clear ‘no-bullying’ ethos and a Code of Conduct that makes it clear that bullying will not be tolerated at school. Students and parents must sign the Code of Conduct.
  2. Educating students across every year group about bullying through the school’s PSHE program.
  3. Actively building a sense of school community by rewarding achievements publicly, showcasing excellent work, hosting assemblies and actively arranging school events.
  4. Having a fair and consistent sanctions system in-place.
  5. Placing teachers on duty at multiple areas of the campus before school, at break time, at lunch time and after school (so that if anything does happen, it is spotted).

I feel sorry for Quaden: it must have been really embarrassing for him to be treated like that in front of a basketball team he really admired. 

In my original video I mentioned that systems and policies at Quaden’s school must be dysfunctional in some way if Quaden was bullied continuously, as this story seems to suggest. Upon reflection, however, it doesn’t seem easy to ascertain this as Quaden was only at Carina State School for three weeks, which would have been too short an amount of time for the anti-bullying systems in place to take full-effect (although action should still have been taken, and may have been, even in this short space of time). 

I have contacted the principal of Carina State School, Ms. Bond, via e-mail to request an official response. Should I receive such a response, then I’ll post that response here. 

#3: Where is the child’s father?

This is the question that virtually no-one is asking, and I think it’s relevant. 

For healthy development, it’s best if both father and mother are involved in their children’s lives. I’m not sure if Quaden’s father would have filmed his son’s breakdown and commented with “This is what bullying does. My child is a victim” (or words to that extent). Masculine energy doesn’t tend to respond that way. 

Tons of research shows that fathers have a big and important role to play in the development of their children. My favorite quote on this matter comes from the research by Rebekah Levine Coley (2008) which states:

Results of multivariate regression analyses indicated that fathers’ provision of warmth and control related to better academic achievement for children, and the provision of control from nonpaternal men predicted fewer teacher‐rated behavior problems in school and more prosocial behaviors toward peers. These relations were moderated by children’s gender, race, and maternal marital history. Girls and Black children were more positively affected by relations with fathers and father figures than were boys and White children, and divorced fathers were more influential in children’s achievement than never‐married fathers. Implications of the findings for social policy and intervention efforts are discussed.

It therefore stands to reason that the role Quaden’s father plays in his life will be a contributing factor to his feeling of self-worth, along with his academic achievement.

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Coronavirus: Supporting Students Online When Schools are Forced to Close

An article by Richard James Rogers (Bestselling author of The Quick Guide to Classroom Management and The Power of Praise: Empowering Students Through Positive Feedback).

Accompanying video: 

The recent outbreak of the 2019 novel coronavirus has caused concern for many school leaders, parents and educational authorities. Just this week, for example, we’ve seen parents pulling their kids out of school at Howard Springs, Australia (where a makeshift coronavirus quarantine center was setup nearby), and schools in the French Alps close due to a localized outbreak.

Other concerning developments regarding the novel coronavirus and its recent impact on schools include:

  • British schools have issued warnings to parents to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus after fears that it could be picked up on half-term holidays to the far east. 
  • St Mary’s Independent School in Southampton, Hampshire (United Kingdom) is currently closed (as of February 10th 2020) after the family of some of their pupils were put in isolation over fears they may have contracted the coronavirus.
  • More than 14,000 people have signed a petition calling for one California school district to temporarily close all schools due to the outbreak. 

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Much is still unknown about nCoV2019, but one thing is becoming clear: person-to-person spread is occurring. The latest situation summary updates are available on the CDC’s web page: (2019 Novel Coronavirus, Wuhan, China).

The forecast for this new virus is unclear, and in my personal opinion school leaders would be well-advised to prepare for possible closure. 

I believe I have come up with a simple method by which teachers and schools can support students with their learning when they are working from home. And I believe that simplicity is key – simple systems make life easier for everybody.

Advice for parents is given at the end of this article.

The Online Learning Journal [A suggestion for schools]

Step 1: Every student in the school creates a website that will act as an ‘ePortfolio’ or learning journal. Each website should contain a separate page for each subject the student learns. Google Sites is amazing for this (it’s very user friendly), but Wix, WordPress and Blogger are also good (and free) alternatives. Just make sure the students are using their school e-mail addresses to sign-up to these platforms.

Step 2: The URL for every ePortfolio for every kid in the school is kept on a centralized spreadsheet (e.g. a Google Sheet or an MS Excel sheet) that every teacher has access to.

Step 3: Work is set by the teacher through the school’s online Virtual Learning Environment or MOOC (such as Google Classroom, Firefly or Moodle) or even via e-mail. Students are required to complete their work on their website (e.g. by writing notes on each page, uploading photos of work that’s handwritten, embedding Google Slides, etc.)

Step 4: Teachers simply need to click on the URL for each website of the kids they teach and check their work. Feedback can be written on the website itself (Google Sites makes this very easy, but the student needs to click ‘share’ and share it with the class teacher), or feedback can be directly e-mailed to each student. 

studying with com

In my opinion, this method is much better than just using your school’s online learning platform and e-mail to set work because:

  1. All of the work is kept in one place. Every teacher has access, but students cannot see or edit each other’s sites.
  2. Work is less fragmented, as it’s all in one place. With Google Classroom and GMail alone, for example, it can be hard to organize the work one has to mark.
  3. ePortfolios provide amazing evidence of learning, output, creativity and feedback for school inspectors.
  4. Every teacher has access, potentially providing a healthy sense of competition between subjects.
  5. Students can embed Google Docs, Slides, Sheets and Forms to their Google Sites. Other platforms also have amazing features that can enhance learning (e.g. news tickers, forum building and link sharing). 

I think it’s important for schools to ‘make hay whilst the sun in shining’ – get your kids set up with all of this now, so that it becomes easy to assign and mark work if your school is forced to close (for any reason, not necessarily because of the novel coronavirus). 

Advice for parents

It can be difficult to support children when school is closed, especially if both parents are working. However, where possible, try to follow these tips:

  1. Make sure your child wakes up at an appropriate time each day and starts the day properly. This is particularly important for older teenagers who have upcoming exams, as productivity can be greatly affected by a slow and late start to the day.
  2. Access your child’s work that has been set by school. Make sure you have your child’s password and username for their online learning platform (if they have one), so that you can determine what work is being set.
  3. E-mail teachers and school leaders and keep in touch with key people in your child’s education. E-mail questions, queries or concerns you have – school’s are usually very happy to assist parents in supporting their children.
  4. Read ahead in your child’s textbooks, so that you can explain concepts and knowledge when you have the time.
  5. Check your child’s work, and make sure quality is high. It may take some time for teachers to provide detailed feedback if school is closed, so provide feedback in the interim (see my blog post about The Four Rules of Praise here). 
  6. Limit social interactions where possible, and make sure that gatherings have a purpose. For older teenagers, again, hanging out with friends can result in low productivity and loss of revision-time. On the other hand, a productive revision session with friends can be very useful. As a parent you will need to gauge the responsibility level and maturity of your own child.
  7. Follow the recommendations of local authorities.

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The Importance of Planning

An article by Richard James Rogers (Author of The Quick Guide to Classroom Management and The Power of Praise: Empowering Students Through Positive Feedback).

Accompanying video: 

My PGCE course was a long, dark road of pain. Not only was I new to teaching, and finding it difficult to teach in a way that was engaging and rightly-paced, but the paperwork was tremendous. 

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Back then, I was required to write out each lesson plan on an A4 piece of paper and have it checked by the main class teacher. I also had to submit the work to my PGCE mentor. 

The process was laborious but it did get me thinking about:

  • How to start my lessons quickly and appropriately.
  • Where students should sit at each point in the lesson and what equipment they would need.
  • How to work through the syllabus at an acceptable pace.
  • How to end each lesson with a stimulating summary.

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Nowadays, however, my lesson planning is done in a one-week-per-two-pages diary [this is the planner I use], and supported by departmental curriculum maps (which outline the topics to be covered for the whole year) and Schemes of Work.

It’s less work, and more ‘long-term’ in focus. 

Planning is a skill that outstanding teachers have mastered. In this article, I want to share my advice on how to best plan our:

  • Lessons
  • Marking
  • Homework schedule
  • Events
  • Free time

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Outstanding teaching is supported by outstanding planning – and this goes beyond the simple planning of one’s lessons. 

The Power of Praise
“Simply Brilliant!” – Readers’ Favorite

Let’s now go through each item in the above list together.

Lesson planning

Experience has taught me that time spent planning lessons always reaps rewards. It requires one to spend a good hour or two of non-contact time doing the following:

  • Looking over the week ahead and scheduling the topics that will be covered on each day
  • Thinking about when homework will be set, when it will be collected in and when it will be marked
  • Accounting for meetings, events and any planned (or possible) disruption to one’s timetable
  • Planning our resource-preparation time

Here’s a video I made about efficient lesson-planning, and in that you will see the lesson planner that I use:

For me, I use part of my Sunday morning each week to plan the week ahead. It always pays dividends in terms of:

  • Reduced stress during the week
  • Better lessons

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Marking

Do we really need to assign so much homework?: If we’re not taking the time to sit with our students to provide high quality feedback, then is that homework assignment we’ve set really that useful?  

We need to think carefully about the quantity of marking we are creating for ourselves, and whether or not this is an effective way to enhance the learning of our students.

I believe strongly in the power of planning our marking. Every week I need to know:

  • When I will set homework, tests and assignments
  • When I’ll collect in homework, tests and assignments
  • When I’ll mark it all
  • How I’ll mark it (in-class strategies, such as a peer and self-assessment, can save us a ton of time)

This is another Sunday morning task of mine – I plan my week’s worth of marking. 

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Events and free time

As well as planning my work, I also know how important it is to plan my free time. 

Knowing that I have a badminton session on a Sunday afternoon, for instance, gives me the motivation to get my work done promptly. Scheduling a Friday night of relaxation gives me a reward for my hard-work during the week. 

Conclusion

I believe that productivity has to permeate and infuse into every cell of our bodies. Productivity must be a way of life – not simply a good habit to deploy at work.

By planning everything, we are more likely to implement the things that move us forwards. 

In the early part of my career my poor time-management and planning skills left me wasting my weekend time, wasting my mornings and creating undue stress for myself. 

Never again. I deserve better. My students deserve better. 

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