How to Start Your NIOS Club
What is a NIOS Club and What Are Its Benefits?
A NIOS club is a group of students at a school site who lead activities to make their school safe, accepting, and inclusive and also address bullying and intolerance. The club serves as a hub for NIOS work and assures that NIOS initiatives are student-led. NIOS clubs can influence a shift and transformation to create an identity-safe school climate. An identity safe climate is one where students from all ethnic and religious groups, gender orientation and backgrounds feel welcomed and included.
Determine Who Will Participate
A NIOS club works best when it has representatives from many groups at school. The club can either be a coalition of members from different clubs or its own unique club. In either case, it is good to coordinate with the other student clubs on campus.
Student leaders from all sectors (ASB, sports, different ethnic clubs, Gay-Straight Alliance) who influence others make good members. Also consider recruiting some students who are not already the most successful. While it takes a bit more time, you might see that a student can transform as they move into the role of leadership in a meaningful way. It is also important to have students from various grade levels to assure continuity from year to year.
Sometimes an assembly or schoolwide event can be used to get students excited and announce the formation of a new NIOS Club. At some schools, interested students have had a table at lunch and handed out wristbands to get others involved. In other cases, students go around to classrooms with brief presentations during an advisory period or at another time.
The first meeting needs to have two goals:
1. Create a positive welcoming tone
2. Get students excited about being involved
The meeting is a kick-off and and the mission and purpose need to be defined and articulated. From there, it is important to make a plan for the year. Many NIOS clubs identify leadership roles or elect officers. Meetings need to be welcoming and fun. Snacks help, too.
Assess School Needs
Each club responds to the needs of their particular school and community. The NIOS Quick-Start Guide has suggestions on how to gather information to assess the school issues.
Club Themes and Activities
At meetings, have the students watch NIOS films to get a sense of a whole array of activities that other schools have done. Identify NIOS films that address the needs of your school. Based on the results of your needs assessment, have students brainstorm activities for the NIOS Club Plan. Here are just a few ideas from the 50 NIOS short films.
- Map the School
- Lead an Assembly
- Sign a School Pledge
- Stereotype Reduction Activities
Pay Careful Attention to How Everyone Works Together
It is important that your club has ground rules. The topics of NIOS are at once deeply personal and at times controversial. (About NIOS has more suggestions for ground rules and facilitating conversations.) Always support students in learning positive communication and conflict resolutions skills.
Coordination with School Leaders and Student Groups
Whether your club has representatives of other clubs or not, it is always important to coordinate with other clubs on campus. Sometimes a NIOS Club has merged with another club to maximize impact. In one school, the Cyberbullying Club and the NIOS Club were separate one year and merged the next.