Small ripples create big waves

Issue: Volume 101, Number 6

Posted: 17 May 2022
Reference #: 1HAUD7

He kōtuinga mahi iti, he hua pai-ā rau. This year’s Bullying-Free New Zealand Week is all about focusing on the positive mahi already happening in school communities across Aotearoa – including a new integrity app, and a new BFNZ Week waiata. This series of articles and resources explores some of that mahi.

Upstanders with Integrity – new app supports bullying prevention

The development of an app – Upstanders with Integrity – enables students at Mt Hutt College to record incidents of bullying and explore solutions and support.

Kaylib Gorrie is working on solutions for bullying

Kaylib Gorrie is working on solutions for bullying

Kaylib Gorrie, deputy principal at Mt Hutt College, knows the devastating effects that bullying can have.

“We have had the loss of students going back to 2015. For us as a school we've had to look how in a rural community, we can cater to the wellbeing needs of our students, and our whānau. So, we've done lots of growth initiatives,” he says.

Bullying is a problem within schools at all levels and solutions are needed. For Kaylib and the students at Mt Hutt, one solution is the ‘Upstanders with Integrity’ app that he helped to develop.

Kaylib says he was first drawn to education 25 years ago after his experiences in coaching sport; he saw the similarities between coaching and teaching.
“For most of my teaching career I have been a science teacher, and passionate about encouraging young people to look at the world through a critical lens, to analyse things and make discoveries for themselves,” he explains.

This desire to allow students to make their own discoveries can be seen in the app. The app allows students to either scan a QR code or use a widget to send messages when they have feelings within the school and to also use links within the app to help them resolve what is happening to them.
The methods of resolution include giving them the chance to go to the Bullying Free New Zealand toolkit to determine if what they experienced is bullying. It also nudges ākonga towards options such as finding an ‘upstander’ (a peer support trained student leader), text a youth mentor, book an appointment with a guidance counsellor through an email, or call 1737 for help.

The development of an idea

Kaylib’s interest in developing a wellbeing app partly traces back to student input.
“A couple of years ago, students were talking about the fact that we're doing a drive to raise awareness around the five ways to wellbeing. Some students said one of the frustrations was that it was either paper-based resources or website-based resources. There wasn't really anything that was in their hand, a cell phone.

“That sort of piqued my interest, and at the same time, I had been doing a little bit of study really trying to come to grips with the complexities of wellbeing. I stumbled upon this concept of solutions-focused counselling and the idea that having some tools at the fingertips of young people would be really useful.”

The bullying prevention programme within the school and the development of the app has been spearheaded by the Positive Behaviour for Learning (PB4L) team. The schools’ PB4L team has ‘morphed’ into the PRIDE group, an acronym that stands for the school’s core values – passion, respect, integrity, diversity and excellence. With the support of the PRIDE group, Kaylib was able to fine-tune how the app could work.

“We thought, let's see if there's a subgroup [of PRIDE] that could actually start to work on bullying and how we address the issue. We started working to have a subcommittee, Bully Free MHC, in collaboration with students and staff working on how we can help students to understand what is bullying, and how can we work to support the students. That really led to the inception of the app.”

The Upstanders with Integrity app also serves as an online data collection tool. Using a ‘dashboard’, staff and student leaders are able to see patterns as a heat map, with areas of concern, areas in need of ‘pop-up’ interventions, as well as areas where things are positive.

One example where this data has been used is with the basketball courts. This showed as being a hotspot during break times. The school has now re-done the area to allow for more activities, with a result of fewer negative responses in that area.

Students can use the app to record their feelings at school

Students can use the app to record their feelings at school

Targeting bullying

When asked as to why it is so important to target bullying, Kaylib replies, “It's been around forever. Humans, unfortunately have this position that there's winners and losers in life and bullying really stems from the animalistic drive that has been described as a pecking order. I think that most recently it's come to the fore because of a lot of the online presence in social media, that construct of bullying, has become prominent.”

Instead of banning social media, Kaylib feels we should open up discussion and use mediums that are social media and tech friendly, and then put these tools into the hands of students to help resolve bullying.

“My hope is that by allowing students to use the tool, and by going through those logical steps and the software they start to process and unpack what was going on for them. If they're doing that in the privacy of a bus ride from campus, or in a classroom, or in the bathrooms or somewhere that's private to them, and using the tool to work through what was going on, processing it and bringing it into the cognitive worldview, that's really the whole point for me – trying to give the students the tools in hand to self-sooth.”

The app has the capability of using a ‘panic button’ approach that students can use if they need to have immediate intervention and are unable to leave the situation. But the use of this needs to be considered in terms of what resources are available to provide assistance.

“The app has a geographic capability. I've deliberately switched it off though, because we have limited resources for people being able to go to those emergency spaces. Our default setting is to train the students that if there's a major issue presenting, to use the app and seek out the guidance counsellor’s suite immediately.

“Having said that, a big school could have the resources so it would certainly be something that they could utilise – to have that panic button approach.”
This is just one way in which the app has the potential to be adapted so that schools or workplaces can use it to best suit their situation.

Mt. Somers Springburn School pupils use the app for peer mediation

Mt. Somers Springburn School pupils use the app for peer mediation

Peer mediation

Another example of the app’s wider potential, is how Year 8 students Jack (Kaylib’s son) and Zoe have used the app to help with their peer mediation at Mt Somers Springburn School.

Jack altered the app so that it could be used by students having peer mediation to help them find their own solutions by working through different pathways.

Kaylib had the opportunity to ask one of the students about the use of the app.

“She said it was perfectly good. She was sitting at the table; the two students came over and they sat down. They used the app to work through the problem themselves. They did all the steps while she ate her lunch and they ended up being able to fix it themselves. I asked her ,‘So it helped guide them through a resolution?’ She said, ‘yep’.”

Currently Kaylib is working on his Masters which involves developing an app called Kotiri. It uses Te Ao Māori principles of wellbeing as well as geographical information systems to encourage users toward holistic wellbeing. He is also looking at the efficacy of wellbeing apps. As part of this he has included a survey on the app to gain greater demographic information about the users and their experience in using it.

When talking about bullying, Kaylib says, “Let's bring it out of the dark shadows and into the light. Let's use tools that students can have in their pocket with their phones or devices to self-regulate and resolve bullying in a New Zealand-centric way.”

We ‘Tumeke’  – a BFNZ week waiata

A special waiata for Bullying Free NZ Week 2022 was composed by Rangi Ruru Girls’ School, and it speaks to the bonds we share as a country and the power of aroha in unity.

Along this land we can be one. We’re watching the stars like you they shine on, there’s always a way to stand strong, there’s always someone to lean on. Aotearoa, we stronger together. Ko tatou to ahi. Aroha is the meaning. In love we can build this together as one. Tahuna to ahi. I roto I tou ngakau. Ko au ko ko. We ‘tumeke’. 

These are the beautiful lyrics of the new waiata, created by music kaiako Henare Kaa and his students at Rangi Ruru.  

The opportunity to produce the waiata arose after Henare and his students rose to fame with the release of Tāwara Ana which was number 10 on the official New Zealand Music Top 10 and 10 on the Te Reo Māori Singles Chart. It was also number 12 on the Hot NZ Singles Chart. Henare wrote the song, originally called Party in My Head, to express what it is like to have ADHD. The song featured vocals from Henare’s 2021 Year 12 Commercial Music class.

“Everything kind of spiralled. The Christchurch Symphony Orchestra arranged the song Tāwara Ana for the Sparks in the Park concert, that was in January just before the red-light system hit. Then it's just been opportunity after opportunity. Out of all of them, this was one that came through as probably the most special.

“To actually compose a song with my students as a way to spread aroha and positivity through this anti-bullying campaign is special and I think is really essential,” he explains.

When asked what is most important during the creative process of composing a song, Henare maintains that it is about keeping the message clear and creating an ‘ear-worm’ – something that will be remembered. For this project Henare wanted to put out a message that is positive about our identities.

“I think it's important to get this message out and the title of the song is cool. It's called ‘We Tumeke’. It's not completely directed around anti-bullying, instead it is about us kiwis and how we have been through a lot, and at the end of the day we are one big whānau. That is the message of the song.

“We're all human beings. We're all different, unique in our own different ways. Why have enemies when you can have friends? That is what the message is about – trying to create positive energy and promote the fact that regardless of who we really are, and where we live, what sort of social economic background we come from, or what country, what culture, as human beings we have the ability to do awesome things.”

The learning journey

Henare teaches commercial music, which, student Meg Crump explains, is about learning to play contemporary music.

“We play pop songs to learn about music and what goes on in the music industry. So, it's a bit of a different approach to teaching music. And I really, really enjoy it.”

Before taking the commercial music class, students undertake other music studies involving classical as well as contemporary music before selecting which path they want to take. When asked why she chose to do commercial music, Meg replies,

“I was never really like a classical musician, never have been, and I was never that much into music until I came to Rangi Ruru and met Mr Kaa. He had a whole different approach to it. We would learn about artists and that I found that I had a real interest in that... I love to learn about the behind-the-scenes way that artists work, the way the industry works.”

As well as learning about artists and the industry the pupils also engage in creating music, like We ‘Tumeke’.

“We do song writing every year for internal assessment, and we always do it in an interesting way. For example, he [Henare] will teach us all about using Logic, which is like garage band software, but bigger and better. We learn how to write songs, learn how past artists have written songs and what we can take from that and what we can put into our own work.”

Meg’s song writing talents are demonstrated in ‘We Tumeke’ .

“I re-wrote the verse because we were running a bit last minute and we weren't in love with it. We had about 10 minutes in the studio, and I said ‘no, cut it’. I quickly made up the new verse because I felt like it would be a bit easier to sing for the melody.”

Meg has been thrilled to be part of the creative process, saying the opportunity is a real honour because it's so unique and such an interesting thing to do at school.

“It will be really cool to see how it flourishes over the next few years.”

Music brings positivity

Henare states that for centuries music has been relied on to create positivity during times of crisis – such as the Great Depression, where people looked to the likes of Benny Goodman and Duke Ellington to try and bring positivity into their lives.

“Out of everything that has been created by humans, music will be the thing that lasts longest because we don't need technology to create music, you just need a human body.

“Anyone can use it in some sort of way. Not everyone can sing or have timing and rhythm, but the majority of people will still have some sort of connection with music. It’s going to be the one thing that lasts the test of time.”

The desire to involve his students in these projects stems from his own musical journey as a young person.

“When I was in high school, I did not come to music until late, but I always dreamed of the opportunities to perform, to write, and I feel that I didn't really get those opportunities. So, I always thought to myself if I was to be put in that position to be a provider, I would provide those opportunities.”

Henare says that the students appreciate the chance to be involved and step up to the challenges of the creative process and performance. The ability to be part of a real-life experience which brings with it public attention allows the students to grow as musicians and as young people.  

Learn the waiata

A special waiata for Bullying Free NZ Week 2022 was composed by kaiako and musician Henare Kaa and music students at Rangi Ruru Girls’ High School.

Along this land we can be one

We’re watching the stars like you they shine on

There’s always a way to stand strong

There’s always someone to lean on

Aotearoa (New Zealand)

We're stronger together

Ko tatou to ahi (we are the fire)

Aroha is the meaning (love is the meaning)

In love we can build this together as one

Tahuna to ahi (ignite your light)

I roto I tou ngakau (inside your heart)

Ko au ko ko (I am you)

We ‘tumeke’ (we are awesome)

Rangi Ruru Girls' School students and teacher Henare Kaa perform We 'Tumeke'Behind the scenes of We 'Tumeke'

Behind the scenes of We 'Tumeke'

Further resources

Bullying-Free NZ(external link)

Wellbeing@School surveys(external link)

Positive Behaviour for Learning (PB4L) resources(external link)

Inside Out | Supporting rainbow youth across New Zealand (external link)

Education Matters to Me(external link)

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

Posted: 2:28 PM, 17 May 2022

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