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 and Digital Resources Package for Continued Learning
- Parent-Family Seminar (evening or morning)
- 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)
- SEL Tool Box for Students to help them communicate better with each other and adults (these simple, practical tools can be practiced in class and at home with parents).
Why It Encompasses 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 consortium of school leaders or an entire district will have me keynote an in-service, and then I’ll visit their schools for the student and parent presentations around that day/date.
For example, I just completed a five-week residency tour in San Diego for twenty-three schools. It all began with a day-long PD for their principals on working in partnership with parents and then each of those principals sent me to their schools to implement my INJJA program. Because there were so many schools participating, I was able to charge a package rate per school, and many used title funds to cover it. The key is to determine how many schools are interested in having me come to speak, and then we work backwards from there on coming up with a fee per school. It can range anywhere from $3,000.00-$7,000.00 per school depending upon the number of participating schools and duration of the engagement.
Another example… I did a school tour for the Department of Education in Hawaii. The department put out the call to all the principals, and any that wished to have me visit put their names on a list. Sixteen schools opted in, so I was able to do it very reasonably as I could divide the cost equally among them. The department also didn’t have to worry about logistics. Their director 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.
A note on bringing other schools on board that may be in other parts of the state or in rural areas potentially a few hours away or more: I’m used to 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.
I don’t charge for expenses. I charge one flat rate, all expenses included.
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 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 written multiple other books on bullying, white papers, articles, and a series of briefs for one of the leading educational organizations in the country. I also contribute content to Loyola University in the areas of anti-bullying and school governance. I’ve brought INJJA (It’s NOT Just Joking Around!) to hundreds of schools, at the behest of governments, local leadership as 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.
Description of Live INJJA™ Presentations
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)
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 recipient of that behavior 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.
Note on 5th Graders: Some schools prefer their 5th graders attend the middle school presentation. Others prefer they attend the elementary presentation. Some request that I do a specific presentation for 4th and 5th graders together. I can accommodate whatever the principal feels will be the most meaningful and effective.
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 bullied or excluded student. My primary message to students is three-fold: bullying is not just joking around, it can damage someone for life; bullying just isn’t the mean things we do, it’s all the nice things we 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 judge you and put you down who need to change. In addition to the re-enactment of my school days, during which those messages are 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 advice and an optional assignment designed to inspire empathy, understanding and inclusion.
After each presentation(s), I make myself available to talk with students (counselor or faculty member must be present). Typically, they will be students who’ve been bullied and who want a sympathetic ear and/or “elite tormentors” who never realized they were unkindness until they heard my talk, and now want my advice on how to make amends to those whom they’ve hurt.
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:
- Parents Who Bully the School: How to Work in Partnership with Challenging Parents
- A Communications Master Class for Teachers and Principals
- Among other options – list available upon request
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 bullied child, 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 target are 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 tragedy 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 the bullies, the recipients of their behavior, and the bystanders. Faculty will be given 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.
Parent/Family Seminar (may be done in the morning before school (parents only) or in the evening):
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 target, how to intervene successfully, how to approach the parents of the bullies and/or their targets, 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 and provides specific, values-based practical tools to help deepen their connection. with each other and their teachers on a human level. Curriculum structure, dissemination and core content available upon request.
About the SEL Tool Box:
This tool box contains everything from How to Tell Instead of Tattle, How to Respond Instead of React and How to Express a Complaint to a Teacher with Respect and Compassion, to A Litmus Test for Social Media Posts and Conversation Starter Cards that help students communicate with more confidence, clarity and purpose.