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Dear Principal,

Thank you for investing in the “Stand Up Say No To Bullying” curriculum! Within this curriculum, you will see entertaining and engaging lessons that teach both the social and emotional learning skills related to bullying and normal social conflict; as well as encourage students to stand up against bullying and to maintain positive relationships by solving conflict peacefully and respectfully. Although we know that no curriculum is a  magic bullet that can ensure a positive and productive learning environment marked by positive relationships among both students and adults, we recognize the critical role the principal plays in leading school climate improvement efforts.  It is for this very reason that our organization, the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association, became involved in the development of this program.

Addressing school climate in a comprehensive and systematic manner is imperative to promoting academic excellence and creating safe and supportive school environments. A positive school climate can: reduce violence,1 increase student achievement and close achievement gaps,2 increase high school graduation rates,3 decrease teacher turnover and increase teacher satisfaction,4 turn around low-performing schools,5 and enhance safety by increasing communication among staff, students and parents.6

Currently principals across the country are faced with the daunting task of implementing a myriad of school reforms. Yet, we know that a negative school climate can easily derail even our best efforts. Instruction in social and emotional learning skills as outlined in this curriculum is just one component of a comprehensive school-wide approach to strengthening school climate.  We believe the “Stand Up Say No” curriculum can be the foundation of a systemic plan to create and sustain a positive school climate and culture.

For that reason, we thought it was important to include some general tips and resources to assist principals in developing and implementing collaboratively developed, comprehensive and coherent school climate improvement plans.

Although improving school climate must be a collaborative endeavor, you, the principal, play an essential role in  leading, supporting and inspiring others as you engage the school community in developing and sustaining a culture of mutual respect, a focus on learning and a commitment to a safe, healthy and productive learning environment. We hope you find the curriculum and accompanying resources helpful as you embrace this challenge.

1 Guiding Principles: A Resource Guide for Improving School Climate and Discipline. U.S. Department of Education. January 2014. Found at

2 Steinberg, M. P., Allensworth, E., & Johnson, D. W. (2011). Student and Teacher Safety in Chicago Public Schools: The Roles of Community Context and School Social Organization. Chicago: Consortium on Chicago School Research. 

3 MacNeil, A. J., Prater, D. L., & Busch, S. (2009). “The Effects of School Culture and Climate on Student Achievement.” International Journal of Leadership in Education, 12(1), 73–84; see also Lee, V. E., Smith, J.B., Perry, T.E., & Smylie, M.A., (1999). Social Support, Academic Press, and Student Achievement: A View From the Middle Grades in Chicago. Chicago, IL: Consortium on Chicago School Research. 

4 Christle, C. A., Jolivette, K., & Nelson, C. M. (2007). “School Characteristics Related to High School Dropout Rates.” Remedial and Special Education, 28(6), 325–339. 

5Weiss, E.A. (1999). “Perceived Workplace Conditions and First-Year Teachers’ Moral, Career Choice Commitment, and Planned Retention: a Secondary Analysis.” Teaching and Teacher Education, 15(8), 861–879. 

Developing and Sustaining a Positive School Climate

  • Create a School Climate Team:  Consider creating a team to share leadership in developing, implementing and evaluating school climate improvement plans. No one person is responsible for school climate. Administrators, staff members, parents and students must all share that responsibility. Members of this team should represent various grade levels and content areas. Consider including a parent and student representative. It is critical to involve students, parents and community members and give them a voice during planning and a role in implementing any school climate improvement initiative.

  • Define school climate and create a vision:  What is school climate? Educators often think that school climate deals with relationships – specifically student to student relationships. However, relationships are just one component of school climate.  There are many aspects to, and therefore many definitions of, school climate. For example, the National School Climate Center outlines 12 Dimensions of School Climate.  If the School Climate Team’s job is to lead school climate improvement efforts it is important that members of that team agree on a common definition of school climate.  Once they have established a common definition, they should engage others in the school community to answer the question, “What type of school climate do we inspire to have?”

National School Climate Center: Definition of School Climate

  • Assess the school climate and analyze the data: Once the School Climate Team has established a common vision and purpose, the next step is to gain an understanding of the school’s current strengths and areas of need using a data-driven process. School climate surveys are an excellent place to start. It is beneficial to survey staff, students and parents in order to better understand each group’s perspective. The team can review other sources of data such as student and staff attendance, discipline referrals, grade distributions, graduation rates, etc. 
  • Develop an action plan: The action plan should support a coherent approach to school improvement. Don’t just create a list of activities. This causes “initiative overload.’” Make sure everything you plan to implement has a clear objective and that each goal is connected to a strong systemic plan. All stakeholders need to understand the “why” for each step of the plan.  Clear objectives also allow you can determine if an action was effective. For example, if you want to see students take on the role of Upstanders after using the “Stand Up Say No” curriculum, how will you continually reinforce that expectation? What data will you use to determine the outcome?
  • Set clear expectations for behavior for both students and adults:  Setting high expectations for student behavior is an essential component of school climate. Behavioral expectations that are rooted in mutual respect should be consistently taught, reinforced and monitored.  The school discipline policy should reflect those expectations and consequences should be clear, incremental and consistently implemented. Adults should model appropriate behaviors. Staff members should also identify clear expectations for behaviors that will support collaborative collegial relationships that enable effective professional discourse focused on student learning. 
  • Provide on-going grade appropriate instruction in social and emotional learning skills:  One job of the School Climate Team is to identify the social and emotional learning skills that will be taught.  Programs that address the skills related to social and emotional learning and character development are plentiful. Each school must decide what skills to teach. Remember that when building a systemic approach, you will want to start with a core set of skills that can be expanded over time.  Often educators suffer from initiative fatigue because they choose complicated packaged programs. Implementation becomes uneven and consistency in delivery is compromised putting an end to any chance for systemic change.  The result – the program is deemed not effective and another program is chosen.

The “Stand Up Say No” curriculum provides a set of 5 modules that can be used to teach and reinforce expectations for behavior that directly impact relationships in the school. For example, the Steps to Win/Win teach students how they will be expected to solve normal conflict. If the purpose of teaching this lesson is to ensure that students gain the ability to solve normal conflict peacefully then we would be successful if we saw students employing these skills in the classroom, the hallways, the playground and the cafeteria. If only the guidance counselor or the sixth grade teacher teaches this lesson, do you really think you will achieve this result?  If your school wants students to demonstrate Upstander behavior and engage in conflict resolution, these lessons must be taught across grade levels and content areas. They must be reinforced by everyone in the school community. The lesson objectives must be taught and reinforced every year. The result – a consistent language and a consistent set of expected behaviors for dealing with bullying and normal social conflict.  These lessons become, “The way we do things around here.”

  • Avoid disjointed programs and initiatives:  The School Climate Team should collaboratively make a list of all the initiatives, programs and activities that your school engages in that are related to social and emotional learning and character development.  For each program, activity or initiative, the team should ask:
  1. What is the goal of the program, approach or initiative? What need is it addressing?
  2. Is it achieving that goal and effectively addressing the need? What data supports our answer?

Once the team answers those two key questions they have three options:

  1. Keep the initiative/program/activity.
  2. Clarify the purpose of the initiative/program/activity and make modifications to its implementation.
  3. Remove the initiative/program/activity from your next school climate improvement plan.
  • Provide meaningful professional development opportunities that build collegial relationships:

The school climate can either support or undermine the ability of educators to collaborate in ways that support the highest levels of student learning. A climate that supports meaningful job-embedded and collaborative professional development allows educators to learn from one another as members of professional learning community (PLC) teams. Instead of engaging in “one-shot” workshops on various topics, PLC teams engage in on-going dialogue related to curriculum, instruction and assessment based on student data. 

Principals must share a vision that highlights the importance of cultivating a community of learners for both students and the adults who teach them. They must help teams build trust by engaging in open and honest dialogue about expectations for collegial behavior. Principals must not only provide the structures and tools that the learning community teams need, they must also be active participants of the learning community engaging in conversations that focus on PLC team goals and their connection to student learning.  Low staff morale is often connected to a feeling of isolation. PLCs build a sense of empowerment and strengthen collegiality.

  • Celebrate:  It is important to celebrate who you are as a school community. Celebrations and traditions reinforce a school’s values and create a strong sense of community. They help build an affective environment where everyone feels that they are included by allowing staff and students to be “a part of something.”  Celebrations should be deliberately planned to send an important message that supports the agreed upon social and emotional learning goals. Choosing a school theme for the year also helps to rally stakeholders around shared values. For example, a school that wants to reinforce the importance of Upstanders might choose a theme for the year like “Be a Hero.” This theme can be integrated across grade levels and content areas.  The School Climate Team could plan a celebration with activities that support the theme and that send the message that Upstanders are heroes in their school community.

The planning of celebrations is an opportune time to engage students, parents and community members.  In one school, students voted annually on the school theme and the parent-teacher organization supplied theme-based t-shirts that were worn on all celebration days.

Don’t forget to find ways to celebrate individual, team and school success. Too often the positive gets overlooked. To create a culture where the positive actions of others are valued, you must acknowledge and celebrate each success.  Recognizing positive behaviors is the first step in ensuring they continue.

  • Assess, plan and evaluate:  In order to create a continuous cycle of school climate improvement, the School Climate Team must continuously assess progress, plan to address areas of need and evaluate the effectiveness of those plans.

Additional Resources:

School Climate Measurement

National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments

National School Climate Center

School Climate Improvement Process

National School Climate Center

School Climate Standards/Guidelines

Guiding Principles: A Resource Guide for Improving School Climate and Discipline (USDE) –

National School Climate Council

Research and Evidence-Based Practice

Collaborative for Social, Emotional and Academic Learning

Directory of Federal School Climate and Discipline Resources (USDE) –

National School Climate Center

What Works Clearinghouse, U.S. Department of Education

Comprehensive Strategies

Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports in School

Search Institute (Developmental Assets)

Special Needs

Culturally Responsive Differentiated Instructional Strategies

“Dear Colleague” letter regarding federal antidiscrimination laws (USDE) –

Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying

National School Climate Center


Guidelines for Teachers

Welcome to the “Stand Up Say No To Bullying” Curriculum 

This curriculum was designed to provide students with vocabulary, information and skills to:  identify bullying behaviors: understand their role in the negative or positive impact of bystanders and; solve conflicts peacefully and respectfully.

There are five modules each containing a specific focus and a set of intended outcomes and objectives.

The curriculum is connected to the award winning movie “Contest” which has a strong anti bullying message. It is recommended that students watch the movie prior to beginning the first module.  While not necessary in order to benefit from the curriculum, this will provide an excellent context for discussions and examples of the various behaviors discussed in the curriculum.  The CD for the movie is provided with the curriculum.

Each module has guidelines for the teacher for each activity as well as links to related clips from the movie as well as newly generated material to  highlight the material to be learned. There are clips of actors from the movie addressing bullying issues as well as typical students responding to some of the issues being raised.    The activities are varied and engaging,  including discussions, writing activities and even script reading and rewriting.    Each module contains a closure activity as well as suggestions for follow-up activities and related Literature links.    Depending on the time available to the teacher,  a module may completed on a day or may be scheduled across days as is best for the particular teacher, class or school.    There is a culminating activity to engage students in creating an anti-bullying campaign unique to their school.

The intended outcome of the curriculum is to assist in the important work of establishing a climate and culture in which bullying behavior is not acceptable and the school and classroom norms are of respect and inclusion.   To be effective the lessons learned in this curriculum should be  extended and generalized to all classroom activities and the vocabulary and skills learned  explicitly utilized throughout the day. 

Stand Up Say No To Bullying will create a “Student Content” webpage as part of the Stand Up Say No website to link to approved, student produced content.  Permission to share any student videos must be obtained prior to uploading student content.   Teachers can upload content produced in the classroom to Youtube or Vimeo.  Send us the link at  Upon approval, this content can be viewed on the Student Content page of this website.  This page (not currently visible) will be added upon receipt of student submissions.

If you have discovered an additional literature selection or technology based activity that supports one of our modules, we invite you to submit your recommendation along with your name and school district to  We will review all submissions and will include your name and school district to all selected for inclusion.

If you wish to give us feedback regarding this curriculum please use the contact feature included in this program.


Dear Parents,

We are pleased to let you know that your child’s class is participating in an anti-bullying initiative. The curriculum was developed by the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association in collaboration with the producers of the film “Contest”. It is designed to be both engaging and instructive.  The students have watched the movie, which has a strong anti-bullying and message. They are now participating in related activities within the class to give students the tools and skills to address bullying and normal social conflict. 

The issue of bullying is an important one for children today. Research indicates that one in four students experiences some form of bullying. All of the people involved in making this film and creating the curriculum care deeply about this issue and hope that they have contributed to raising awareness of the prevalence and impact of bullying and in providing opportunities to talk about positive ways to address this. 

We believe it is critical to talk with your children about bullying so they understand their options in safely addressing bullying behavior.  To assist you, we have provided some Conversation Starters to help facilitate these important conversations. While schools must take strong actions to create a climate and culture where this behavior is unacceptable, school leaders also recognize the importance that families play in establishing expectations for behavior and fostering healthy and positive peer relationships.

The most important thing you can do is to listen to your child so they know that  they are not alone and that they always have the support of caring adults, both at home and at school.  We hope this information is helpful to you.

Conversation Starters:

  1. What is bullying?   The generally accepted definition found at is provided here.  You can ask your child what they think bullying means and use this definition as appropriate to talk about the different types of bullying behavior. It is important to help your child distinguish between bullying and normal social conflict.

Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Both kids who are bullied and who bully others may have serious, lasting problems

In order to be considered bullying, the behavior must be aggressive and include:

An Imbalance of Power: Kids who bully use their power—such as physical strength, access to embarrassing information, or popularity—to control or harm others. Power imbalances can change over time and in different situations, even if they involve the same people. Normal social conflict does not involve an imbalance of power.

Repetition: Bullying behaviors happen more than once or have the potential to happen more than once.

Intentional:  The behavior is intended to cause physical or emotional harm.

Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose.

There are three types of bullying:

Verbal bullying is saying or writing insulting or demeaning comments. Verbal bullying includes:

    • Teasing
    • Name-calling
    • Inappropriate sexual comments
    • Taunting
    • Threatening to cause harm

Social bullying, sometimes referred to as relational bullying, involves hurting someone’s reputation or relationships. Social bullying includes:

  • Leaving someone out on purpose
  • Telling other children not to be friends with someone
  • Spreading rumors about someone
  • Embarrassing someone in public

Physical bullying involves hurting a person’s body or possessions. Physical bullying includes:

    • Hitting/kicking/pinching
    • Spitting
    • Tripping/pushing
    • Taking or breaking someone’s things
    • Making mean or rude hand gestures
  1. After talking about the definition of bullying in ways appropriate to the child’s age, you may talk about the different bullying behavior they have seen in the film or elsewhere.
    • Who is being bullied and by whom?
    • Why are they targets of bullying behavior? Emphasize the importance of respect and tolerance. Discuss how bullying is never the victim’s fault. It is okay to be different. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses and friends accept friends for who they are.
    • How would you handle each of these situations?
    • Talk to your child about not ignoring this behavior and reporting the behavior to a responsible person.
    • Who would you go to for help in your school?
  2. Is it possible for people to change? Emphasize that people can change due to their experiences.
    • What characters changed their behavior during the movie?
    • What caused them to change?
  3. Emphasize that everyone needs other people and that your child is never alone.
    • Ask them to identify trusted adults that they can turn to if they are ever bullied.
  4. Sometimes in the film someone sees the bullying but doesn’t do anything.
    • Did you ever witness bullying? How did you feel? What could you do if you see someone being bullied in school?
    • Discuss negative bystander behavior and how some people join in with the bad behavior and some stand by and do nothing.
    • Emphasize how these bystanders are followers, not leaders.
    • Why do people go along with bullying behavior? What would positive bystander behavior look like (Upstander)?
    • Explain that this can include speaking up to tell the person to stop, reporting the behavior immediately, and befriending and including the person.
    • Discuss how your child can exhibit “upstander” behavior, including how to report bullying at school.
    • Who was an Upstander in the movie? Who did the right thing?
  5. How did real friendship and kindness make a difference to Tommy and other characters?
    • In the movie Matt says, “ It feels good not to push anyone around? What does he mean? Can you think of things you can do for others that make both you and them feel good?
    • At the end of the movie, Tommy talks about friendship and describes good friends as keepers. What friends do you have that are keepers? What behaviors make them your friends?
    • Do you know kids at school who do not seem to have friends? What could you do to help them?

We are committed to doing everything we can to establish a positive school climate for our students.   If you have reason to believe that your child is being bullied please contact:

Name:      ________________________________________________

Position:  ________________________________________________

Phone:     ________________________________________________

Email:      ________________________________________________


We encourage you to explore the following resources for further guidance in this area:

The Stop Bullying Now website at     is a comprehensive website sponsored by the US Department of Health and Human Services .

National Bullying Prevention Center at   has a great deal of user friendly information for parents , students and schools.

The Trevor Project   a 24 hour, national crisis and suicide prevention lifeline for gay and questioning teens.

Bullying No Way! Is an Australian based, user-friendly, interactive website kids, parents, teachers and schools.

STOMP out Bullying focuses on reducing and preventing all types of bullying