When we look back on our years in middle school and high school, most of us remember individuals who helped us solve problems, get things done and overcome challenges. They’re the ones who stuck up for us when we needed it. They celebrated the highs and cried with us during the lows. They were the people who “had our backs.” They were our “allies,” which comes from a Latin word meaning “to bind to.”

Sometimes our allies were parents, teachers and other adults. But often, those allies were our friends. In fact, research consistently shows that young people are most likely to turn to their friends, not adults, when they need help — even if their friends are not equipped to respond in helpful ways.

As educators and adults, how might we encourage the kinds of positive supports that fuel learning, growth and well-being? What roles can we play in ensuring that our students’ friends are positive allies for each other in learning and in life?

This month’s theme from Search Institute broadens ideas often focused on bullying prevention to explore how students’ can shift from being “bystanders” for each other in learning and in life to becoming “allies” for each other, binding your classroom together to help everyone be successful.

Click the image below for research, ideas, and activities:


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