It all changed a few days later, when we read the story Wings, by Christopher Myers, which is an awesome anti-bullying book. In the story, the boy who has wings is ostracized for being different. We talked about how each one of us is different in good ways, and that eventually led us to talking about being a classroom family. Now, when someone needs help, you'll hear someone call out, "Hey, help a brother out!"
Later in the year, I co-taught a lesson with our guidance intern on iMessages. It comes in very useful as a peace-keeping strategy, and teaches students how to interact with kind words, instead of harsh words. I wish someone had taught me iMessages when I was a kid!
I also try to infuse anti-bullying in the passages I write for my own students. I wrote this for students who had low self-esteem issues, and it carries right over to my students this year, who need the extra boost of motivation to make friends and speak up in classes besides mine. And besides, what kid doesn't love superheroes?!
At the end of the day, I try to teach by example. If I demonstrate a peaceful demeanor and treat others with love and kindness, I believe my students will pick up on that.