This video is about high school students, but addresses a problem that starts early and destroys lives – bullying. We’d like to think it doesn’t exist, but it is a condition of our culture and society, and educators must address it in order to have effective learning environments, and to prepare children to be effective advocates for themselves and others, as well as to change bullying behaviors.
Total Learning intentionally addresses the social-emotional aspects of interactions, classroom environments and school climate. We create daily situations where children learn to work together and value one another’s strengths. We construct purposeful learning experiences that structure time so students are motivated and engaged. We value student voice. And we are friends who model working together, celebrating common ground, acknowledging when we have differences of opinion, and working through them through problem solving and compromise.
From Susan Weikel Morrison:
This is mostly a K-6 solution:
A powerful tool teachers can use with bullies is to take the bully and victim away from other students and encourage the victim to say to the bully, “I feel _______ when you ______, and I would like you to _________. The bully is not allowed to interrupt, and when they respond they are not allowed to question the victim’s feelings. The teacher explains to the bully that they can control their own actions, but they have no control over how others feel. The conversation can continue from there. Since it often takes place during the students’ free time, they are both motivated to come to a resolution quickly.
I believe the most effort should be put into teaching kids how to effectively respond to bullies because they will encounter bullies throughout their lives. Good strategies include ignoring mild bullying, deliberately freezing the bully out of your sphere, enrolling the support of friends and authorities, having some fun with humor at the bully’s expense, calmly standing your ground, etc. If enough kids are inoculated against bullies, there will be fewer bullies.
This strategy would fit well into linguistic Total Learning lessons, where students build relationships and learn how to dialogue effectively. They can role play hypothetical situations, providing skills they will need in the heat of the moment. Additionally, bullying behavior needs to be replaced by something. We can provide alternative behaviors for the bully as well as the victim – positive ways to have important needs met.
Do you have ways that you address bullying in your classroom? What are the words you use? The actions you take? The model you provide? Please share!