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Social Skills Benefit the Whole School

With the current testing and academically focused culture, teaching social skills (sometimes called “soft skills”) is not always a priority.

However, we know that social skills are important. Every adult, if given the choice, would choose to be a part of a work environment where they get treated well and feel like they can be themselves. Even if the job isn’t fun, people will want to go to work if they have a healthy, encouraging social environment. And there are plenty of books written about how employees who feel appreciated are more productive and successful.

The same is true of students.

If students feel accepted, respected, and appreciated in the school environment, they can achieve so much more. And those feelings of acceptance, respect, and appreciation don’t need to come only from the educators –students need respect from their peers as well.

It’s good to remind everyone that our peers are also human beings with thoughts and feelings, including pain, suffering, and fear, as well as dreams, hopes, and happiness. We believe that everyone should have healthy relationships in all aspects of their life, from dating to friendships to co-workers to acquaintances to family. And we believe that teachers like YOU can and do help their students create schools where kindness is the norm and students want to come to school because they feel valued.

Creating an atmosphere where students respect each other takes effort. If you’ve ever encountered a work environment where you didn’t feel valued or respected, you know how much effort it can take to turn a place like that around. But, it is possible.

If you already do something in your classroom like a quote for the day or a newspaper article of the week/month, try incorporating a conversation about healthy relationships around this activity. For example, choose quotes that spark conversations about how the students treat each other or use newspaper accounts about bullying, sexual harassment, sexual assault, or other forms of negative interaction that happened at school, at school functions, or connected to school. This won’t add extra time if it’s an activity you’re already doing. And it could have big dividends.

Below are a few internet articles to get you started. You can always relate these back to the Power Up, Speak Out! healthy relationship statements – does everyone get to be themselves? Are they treating others well? Are their peers letting them say no? Are they having fun?


Tattoo Artist Helps Bullied Boy By Transforming His Back Brace



  • Why do you think the other kids made fun of Xavier?
  • How do you think Xavier felt about his back brace before it was airbrushed? Afterward?
  • If Xavier was your brother or a best friend (someone you really liked), what could you do or say to him to help him when the other kids at school bullied him?
Suspensions plummet in NYC school that incentivizes good behavior



  • Would you want to do this at our school? Why or why not?
  • From the context of the article, what do you think “restorative justice” is? How could that be a good thing for a school?
Wild parties, an alleged rape, and a high school’s troubling response



  • Sexual assaults can happen off the campus of high schools, but schools are still responsible for providing a safe environment when students come to school. What could our school do to help a victim of sexual assault?
  • Why might sexual assault victims not want to report their assault to law enforcement or other authorities?
  • For more information about this subject for you and your class, see these articles:
Reporting Sexual Assault: Why Survivors Often Don’t University of Kentucky Top Ten Things Advocates Need to Know: #7 What percentage of rape cases gets prosecuted? What are the rates of conviction?  And People Ask Why Rape Victims Don’t Report To Police

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