It’s time for a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
From February 14–18, 2022, New York City public schools across the five boroughs are celebrating Respect for All (RFA) Week, the DOE’s annual, weeklong call to action for City schools to build, promote, and maintain safe and inclusionary school communities and environments on behalf of all students, staff, and community members.
Throughout RFA Week, schools across the five boroughs are encouraging their communities to respect diversity and prevent bullying, intimidation, and bias-based harassment through events and activities aimed at teaching social responsibility and violence awareness. Kicking off with Celebrating Kindness/Be an Ally Day on February 14, each day of RFA Week highlights different topics for discussion and activities, including:
- February 15: Anti-bullying/Cyberbullying
- February 16: Respect for Diversity, Religious Acceptance, and Racial Diversity
- February 17: Gender Identity, Sexual Orientation, and LGBTQ Pride
- February 18: National No One Eats Alone Day
Free Virtual Workshops for Students, Families, and Staff Members
During RFA week, all parents, students, and DOE school staff members are invited to attend any of the following two FREE virtual workshops by the Center for Anti-Violence Education in collaboration with the Office of the Prevention of Hate Crimes and the NYC Department of Education. These workshops, which will be held on Zoom, help participants understand Upstander Intervention:
Upstander 101/Roots of Oppression Workshop
This workshop will teach participants to be Upstanders and safely intervene, assist, and deescalate when there is an act of violence. As Upstanders, the goal is to disrupt, intervene, prevent, and heal from acts of violence experienced due to gender, sexual, and hate-based violence. The workshop is also tailored to address specific issues that include the intersections of racism, homophobia, transphobia, and xenophobia—participants will learn strategies and deescalation skills while pooling their expertise to keep each other safe so that everyone walks away with a few more tools to move from being bystanders to violence, to Upstanders against it.
Responding to Microaggressions in the Workplace Workshop
During this workshop, participants will learn about and unpack microaggressions that are racist, sexist, ageist, transphobic, xenophobic, etc. Participants will be asked to dive deep into the oppressive legacies that lead to microaggressions and reflect on how to disrupt these systems in workplaces and their everyday lives. The workshop will also review strategies for calling people in to acknowledge and shift their behavior via deescalation techniques and communication strategies.
Learning Respect for All at Home
In addition to the outstanding workshops, activities, and exercises being held in City schools for Respect for All Week, families can join in on the festivities by helping to foster many of the same lessons on kindness, allyship, and anti-bias by checking out any of the following resources available online to families. From booklists and videos, to coloring pages and fun family activities, there’s surely a way for you and your family to help spread the word about Respect for All!
Start a gratitude journal
Keeping a gratitude journal helps children increase their self-awareness and self-management; expressing gratitude daily in this manner allows children to reflect on their lives and focus on positive aspects.
Start a journal anywhere your child can write something for which they are feeling grateful that day. You or your child can decorate the front or even create a book from scratch for added ownership and fun. If you’re a parent or guardian, you can even fill out a few entries of your own to help set an example for your children to follow!
Some example questions include:
- Who is one person that makes you feel grateful today?
- What is something you ate today for which you feel grateful?
- What is one ability you have that makes you feel grateful?
Watch “What Can We Do? Bias, Bullying, & Bystanders” (via YouTube)
In this outstanding video by the Human Rights Campaign, educators model how to engage students in real conversations about bias-based bullying and standing up for one another.
Access it online via the Human Rights Campaign’s YouTube channel.
Read a book (or three)
Whether you’re a parent looking for a great picture book for your growing child, or a teenager seeking answers for issues happening both inside and outside school, there are outstanding books available that can shed insight into bullying and bias and also provide a blueprint for how to be a great ally to a close friend.
The Human Rights Council’s (HRC) “Great Books for Engaging Students on Preventing Bullying and Bias” has an outstanding mix of books for kids in grades Pre-K through 9, including wonderful picture books for read-alouds with the little ones, and award-winning novels that can help provide middle schoolers with a dose of perspective. Likewise, HRC’s “Sticking Up for Each Other: Books Highlighting the Power of Allies” contains a mix of books for kids in grades Pre-K through 8 that demonstrate friendship, kindness, and bravery in the face of hurtful, and at times, overwhelming, challenges from their peers.
Write a letter or draw a picture for a loved one
Just thinking about positive social connections can give us reasons to reflect and feel joy. Consider asking your children to think about the important people in their lives by having them write letters or draw pictures for others. This practice can help build children’s relationship skills and social awareness, even if they are working alone.
Participate in “Random Acts of Kindness Day” (Thursday, February 17)
Join in on the annual Random Acts of Kindness Day (RAK Day) celebration, and start putting goodness out into the world! To kick things off, you can download a “Make Kindness the Norm” coloring page and join the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation’s 2022 Coloring Contest. Then, you can browse the RAK Foundation’s “Get Inspired” page for “kindness ideas” that will help you practice kindness at school, home, and work!
For more information about RFA Week, please visit our Respect for All webpage, and follow #RespectForAll on social media to see how City schools are celebrating all week long. And be sure to tag us at @NYCSchools for any photos or videos of RFA Week activities happening at your school!
On behalf of the NYC DOE, we wish all of our school communities a constructive and joyful week!