The INJJA™ Program
In Author/Survivor Jodee Blanco’s Own Words
My in-school program entitled It’s NOT Just Joking Around!™ (INJJA™) is divided into two parts: the program’s core component which is a day-long series of live presentations for students, faculty and parents; and an optional SEL-inspired follow-up curriculum to keep the message of tolerance and compassion alive the rest of the school year and provide both teachers and students with tools to connect more meaningfully on a human level.
Jodee Blanco’s Anti-Bullying Presentations and Implementation of INJJA™ (It’s NOT Just Joking Around!™) in Jodee’s Own Words
What My Program Includes:
- Age Appropriate Student Presentations (elementary, middle and high)
- After-School Faculty In-service with comprehensive written supplement
- Evening Parent-Family Seminar (Kids encouraged to attend with their parents)
- Flexible, Optional SEL Based Follow-Up Curriculum/Blended Learning Model (commences after I’ve come to speak and keeps the message of tolerance and compassion alive the rest of the school year)
Why It Includes Students, Educators and Parents:
- The Matrix of Bullying is students, educators and parents. The most powerful approach to sustainable change in a school is to reach all three groups on a human level and engage them in a realistic, practical plan of action that each one feels respects their perspective.
- This is what my program INJJA™ (It’s NOT Just Joking Around!™) does, encompassing each element of that matrix through live presentations, a flexible SEL based curriculum, professional development, and a parent/family piece.
- Schools may opt for individual presentations or any combination and I’m flexible. That being said, I always recommend, whenever possible, including the above matrix for maximum impact.
- In-Person (during social distancing, I present multiple times to smaller groups of students)
- Virtual (I present live and schools may record the presentations for future learning)
- Blended Learning Model (integrates in-person components and E-learning, designed around a school’s needs)
- Hybrid (a combination of in-person and virtual, for example, live-streaming an in-person presentation in a socially distanced classroom to remote students).
How I Typically Work with Schools:
Often, a group of schools will bring me in to speak and share in the costs. The more schools that opt in, the less the price per school because my time is being maximized in a market. Sometimes a district or educational organization will have me keynote a conference, and then I’ll visit their schools for the student and parent presentations around that day/date.
For example, a large school district in Pennsylvania had me do a day-long PD for their principals and then sent me to their schools to implement my program. Because there were so many schools participating, I was able to charge a package rate per school. The key is to determine how many schools within a district or group are interested in having me come to speak, and then we work backwards from there on coming up with a fee per school that’s comfortable for everyone. It can range anywhere from $2,000-$7,000.00 per school depending upon the number of participating schools.
Another example…I did a school tour in the state of Hawaii. The superintendent put out the call to all the principals, and any that wished to have me visit put their names on a list. Twelve schools opted in, so I was able to do it very reasonably as I could divide the cost twelve ways. The superintendent didn’t have to worry about logistics. He and a coordinating principal whose school anchored my visit simply put out the word and any principals that chose to participate handled their logistics with me directly.
There are lots of options available and I’m flexible. If only one school brings me in, that’s fine too. I do individual engagements all the time.
A note on having me do my program in a group of schools that are geographically a few hours away from each other or more: I’m used to distances and having to drive sometimes a couple hundred miles at the end of each evening to get to the next day’s school. As long as it’s less than a three hour drive, I can keep the schedule pretty streamlined, and if a school opts in to having me visit that’s a larger distance away, I just add a travel day in between.
Lastly, I always strive to work within a sponsor’s budget. I roll up my sleeves and together we make it happen. I also don’t charge for expenses. I charge one flat rate, all expenses included.
A Note on Modality and Logistics for a Potential Engagement Series This Semester or Next School Year:
I’m recommending in-person visits. That being said, I can accommodate any modality and should a school wish to change modality last-minute, i.e. shift from in-person to virtual or vice versa, my purpose is to serve and I will adapt based on the school’s needs. Additionally, should a school book me for in-person presentations and they’d like me to address a specific class or classes virtually prior to my visit, either because there’s an immediate issue or to help prep students for my in-person visit, I don’t charge extra for a pre-visit virtual presentation.
A little background on me:
I’m a survivor of school bullying and author of the New York Times bestselling memoir Please Stop Laughing At Me…. As anti-bullying’s first voice, I’m one of the pioneers of the movement, having dedicated my life to this issue for over two decades. I travel to schools and communities, sharing my story to motivate change.
I’ve spoken to thousands of students, teachers and parents worldwide. In addition to my memoir, I’ve authored multiple other books on bullying, including a popular series for educators. I’ve worked with some of the largest educational organizations in the country in the areas of anti-bullying and governance, and consult for school leadership on enlightened communication practices, parent relations and crisis management. I’ve brought INJJA™ (It’s NOT Just Joking Around!™) to hundreds of schools at the behest of governments, schools districts, dioceses, well as individual administrators. All my methodologies, the crux of everything I do in the anti-bullying space, is based on core values of compassion and forgiveness.
Looking forward to next steps! If you’d like me hop on the phone with anyone, I’d be happy to make myself available for a call.
Description of Live INJJA™ Presentations
Note on Student Presentations: Presentation lengths may vary depending upon the delivery modality—in-person, virtual, hybrid, or blended learning model. I incorporate covid-related anti-bullying trends into the presentations and address Covid’s impact with sensitivity and compassion
The student presentations are age-appropriate and divided as follows:
K-4 (45 minutes)
6-8 (75 minutes including Q&A)
9-12 (75 minutes including Q&A)
Fifth graders can attend the elementary or middle school presentation. It’s up to the discretion of the school which one they feel would be better suited for their particular fifth grade class. Some schools are already experiencing pronounced, sophisticated forms of bullying at the fifth grade level and feel their fifth graders need a stronger, “big kid” approach. Others are more comfortable with their fifth graders attending the elementary school presentation, which communicates the same basic message, but more softly and simply with lots of audio and visual prompts. It all depends upon the level of bullying in fifth grade at each particular school and what administration thinks will have the strongest impact.
The Elementary School Presentation:
This presentation is engaging and whimsical, and captures the attention of little ones through imaginative audio and visual cues (no special equipment is needed—I use theatrical techniques to keep them focused and involved from start to finish). It’s interactive and allows students and teachers to participate. I teach little ones about compassion for the bully, forgiveness, and how to stand up for themselves with kindness and respect. I show them how “tattling hurts and telling helps,” explaining the difference between, “tattling” (which is anger motivated) and “telling” (which is compassionate because it helps the bully and the victim both get the support they need). Students learn about eye contact, the power of a sincere sorry, the importance of honesty, what a true friend is and isn’t and how to distinguish the two. I also review step by step what to do if someone bullies you and why. I teach them how to “turn their compassion on and turn their anger off.” Through singing, role-playing, games and a fresh approach to understanding why bullies bully and how to help everyone, my objective is to inspire their hearts and open their minds, using presentation methods that are fun, moving, and memorable.
The Middle and High School Presentation:
I relive painful episodes from my past in front of the students so that they can witness firsthand what I endured at the hands of my peers. It’s emotional and intense and allows the audience to live inside the heart and head of the bullying victim. My primary message to students is three-fold: bullying is not just joking around, it damages you for life; bullying just isn’t the mean things you do, it’s all the nice things you never do; and if you’re being bullied or shunned, there’s nothing wrong with you, it’s everything that’s right about you that makes you a target, and you shouldn’t change for anyone, it is those who put you down who need to change. In addition to the re-enactment of my school days, during which that tri-tiered message is continually reinforced, I also give students specific advice on how to handle what I call “elite tormentors,” the mean members of the cool crowd. I conclude the student presentation with an empathy exercise that brings my anti-bullying message home on a visceral and deeply personal level.
After each presentation(s), I make myself available for any students who wish to speak with me. Typically, those students will include victims who want a sympathetic ear and “elite tormentors” who never realized they were cruel until they heard my talk, and now want my advice on how to make amends to their victims.
After-School Teacher Workshop
Note: Below is the standard INJJA™ in-service. I also offer workshops that can be swapped out for the standard version, and/or include content from the below variations:
Description of Standard INJJA™ Teacher Workshop:
What makes this workshop so fresh and different is that everything is from the student’s point of view. I take teachers and administrators inside the heart and mind of the victim, the bully and the bystander, from their singular perspectives.
The presentation includes: what you should never say to a bullied child and why; what you should say and do; the difference between authority and emotional credibility and how it can make or break a child’s ability to trust in you; how the bully and the victim are flipsides of the same coin and how to assist both; the two types of bullied students; the two types of popular students; the typical profile of the bullied child; how to intervene with a bullied child and/or a bully one-on-one; how to intervene in a group bullying situation; the single biggest mistake parents and teachers make when dealing with a bullied child that can often lead to suicide and how to avoid it; how to “think like a kid” instead of a “grown-up” and apply this skill to save a young life; a creative new approach to helping kids absorb academic lessons and ace homework that cleverly incorporates anti-bullying and other life lessons that teachers can easily put into practice; why traditional punishment doesn’t always work and how to supplement it with more enlightened forms of discipline that are “compassion-centric”; how parents and teachers can work together effectively and productively when dealing with a difficult child; among other strategies and solutions.
I also share deeply personal insights such as: the worst mistakes my teachers made and how I wish they would have handled things differently; the most common complaints I hear from bullied students today, and what they want their teachers to know but don’t have the courage to tell them. At the end of this workshop, teachers, counselors and any adult working at the school, will have concrete knowledge about what to do to help both the bullies and the victims and how to inspire bystanders. They will have scripted verbiage, specific strategies, creative suggestions, and other valuable tools that only someone who was bullied and survived, and who is working with thousands of other children going through what she once did, could provide. This is an honest and exciting workshop that not only informs participants, but also celebrates their energy and commitment to youth.
Evening Parent/Family Seminar:
The Parent/Family seminar is an enlightening interactive workshop for parents and their children. It deepens their understanding of each other and actively improves the way in which they communicate. I take parents back in time to my school years, and help them reconnect with that part of their own past so they can better relate to their children’s experiences in the here and now. Then, engaging the assistance of all the kids in the audience, we walk the parents through the typical clichés adults use on bullied kids and why they don’t work. Kids love being able to teach their parents, and you can see the bond between parent and child strengthening in the room. It’s palpable. Then I offer fresh and effective alternatives to those clichés.
I describe the warning signs a child may be a bully or a victim, how to intervene successfully, how to deal with the parents of the bullies and/or victims, how to work productively with the school, why some children are targeted by bullies more than others, how to spot the warning signs a child may be suicidal due to bullying or may be contemplating violence, how to help that child create an interim social life until issues at school can be resolved, and other critical information.
I also share deeply personal insights about the mistakes my own parents made and how to avoid them, as well as what my parents did that helped and why.
Brief Description of Optional SEL-Based INJJA™ Follow-Up Curriculum
The student component of the INJJA™ program is divided into two immersive phases: the first are live presentations; the second is a comprehensive curriculum. The presentations are designed to open hearts and minds, inspire compassion in the bullies, hope in the victims, and courage in the bystanders. The purpose of the curriculum is to maximize the impact of the presentation experience by reinforcing and expanding upon those themes the rest of the school year. The presentations are the wake-up call to students that change is needed. The curriculum guides them there. Curriculum structure, dissemination and core content available upon request.
I also offer continued on-site follow-up upon request.