Mrs. Leichty, Middle School Counselor, is spending time with our 6th graders educating them on how our words, texts, and gossip affect all of us and what we can do to prevent it. She opened the lesson with a simple game of telephone. Her initial phrase, "Elephants cannot tango but they can tip toe through tulips," translated into, "elephants can tip toe to the Sahara Desert!" And while the wildly varied phrase brought a few giggles, students quickly understood that a simple spoken or texted phrase varies from its original context after reaching just one other person.
Gossip, or rumor spreading, creates a false sense of connection between two individuals. It can create a connection or spark a 'friendship' between people sharing what seems like interesting, but often hurtful and false information. Once those words, texts, or photos are sent out into the world, we can't take them back. This idea led to Mrs. Leichty's second experiment. Two students engaged in a race of emptying a toothpaste tube the fastest on to a paper plate. Once the tubes were completely empty, the students were then asked to race to put the toothpaste back inside the tube with a cue tip. Just like the toothpaste, you can't put words, texts, or photos back, and we can quickly lose control of the context of our words and actions.
The lesson wrapped up with three important take-aways.
1. Let the rumor stop with me. Make a decision to end rumors with you. Don't spread the information, photo, text message.
2. I don't think we know enough to talk about that. Share with others that you don't know all of the facts and that you don't want to talk about it.
3. When I share this information, photo, or text, will I lose control of it? Forwarding digital media, even if you quickly delete it, means that the image, text, or post has likely been shared, screen shot, or forwarded on out of your control and without your permission.
Many of our students shared their own experiences, engaged in discussion, and enjoyed the messages that were shared. "Middle School can be a difficult time for many students," shared Mrs. Leichty. "We can begin to control it by using the lessons we learned today."