During "No Name-Calling Week" (January 16 through 20, 2017), organizations like GLSEN provide students and educators with the tools and inspiration to launch an on-going dialogue about ways to challenge bullying and name-calling in their communities. Read how two of City Year's AmeriCorps members dialogue with their students to prevent name- calling in the schools they serve. 

Serving elementary and middle school-age students, I've been afforded the opportunity to witness some of our brightest youth grow. I've also seen the painful shaming of "smart kids" who are often ridiculed and called names such as "nerd" or "teacher's pet." Some may considered this harmless kid's play, but I think this can be detrimental to a student's growth and development. In return, having conversations centered around bullying has been a priority of mine. 

AmeriCorps members serving with City Year Chicago are close enough in age to their students so they can lead by example and provide advice to support positive behavior. 

I  believe that it's important for my students to understand bullying isn't only physical. It is imperative to discourage this kind of behavior. My approach with my students is never punitive. I always embrace try to use these opportunities as teaching moments. I explain to my students the residual effect of the negative comments. It is also important for me to try instilling compassion and empathy in all my students. 

– Antionio Marshal, AmeriCorps member serving with City Year Chicago

Working with high school students, I constantly hear them trying to joke with each other by using homophobic and ableist language. My initial reaction is to reprimand the individual and ask them to promise never to use those words again. Yet, I understand that my students are fresh out of junior high. Their social sphere is probably not too large. When I have conversations with them about their language, I try to meet them where they are rather than condemn them for a lack of understanding about who can be affected.  I remind them how serious name-calling is, especially the use of identity-based slurs. 

City Year Chicago are role models both in and outside of the classroom. The relationships they build with their students are a vital part of their service. 

Some of my teammates have adopted the same mindset. One teammate told me a story. She had a heart to heart with a student. Rather than reprimand him for calling someone “gay” as an insult, she had a conversation with him about the impact of his words. I believe in the importance of engaging our students in conversation instead of only reprimanding them. These conversations will help them make better decisions and be more intentional with their language in the future. 

– Renee Metellus, AmeriCorps member serving with City Year Chicago


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