Posts tagged school culture
Bullying among school-aged children is a pervasive problem in the United States. If there was a magic wand, one-size-fits-all solution to the problem, it would have been suggested and implemented long ago. You wouldn’t be thinking about it and I wouldn’t be writing about it. Bringing an end to bullying involves comprehensive school culture shifts as well as convincing young people (and the adults in their lives!) to use social power fairly and justly, at all times. Changing human dynamics, as we all know, is neither easy nor swift.
That’s the bad news.
The good news is that time-consuming, complicated solutions are trumped each and every day by the small, powerful acts that trustworthy adults can use to signal to individual kids that their dignity is paramount and that their safety will be prioritized.
At the risk of oversimplifying a very complex issue among young people, but at the hope of creating a go-to roadmap for educators, counselors, youth workers, and parents, this article I just posted on PsychologyToday offers 6 simple strategies for upgrading our approach to bullying in schools. Please check it out and share with professionals and parents who are looking for guidance in this area.
Education Week writer Larry Ferlazzo reached out to me and three other Education & Mental Health professionals to help respond to this reader’s question:
One student can change the chemistry of whole class. How do you bring balance to the Force in your class?
Here’s my response:
A sad truism about classroom dynamics is that it is far easier for one negative student to bring down an entire group of peers than it is for one positive student to lift the class up. As a teacher, what can you do in your classroom when that ‘one bad apple’ threatens to spoil the whole bunch?
Prioritize Connections with Students
In this age of technology and testing, it is far too easy to regard students as items on a to-do list rather than as human beings who only succeed academically when they feel safe emotionally. Make time to genuinely connect with each student in your classroom:
- Greet them by name each day.
- Learn their strengths.
- Know their families.
- Ask about their feelings.
- Notice changes in their behavior.
Genuine connections are the essential prerequisite to creating a positive classroom culture that can withstand the force of changing social dynamics.
Role Model Kindness
Rodkin & Hodges (2003) cite evidence that when teachers are warm and caring to their students, the students, in turn, become less rejecting of their peers. Be the standard bearer of warmth and kindness in all of your interactions with young people. Smile often. Make abundant eye contact. Listen. Be there. Show that you care. This is a real “do as I do” opportunity where your actions are the model for how your students treat each other.
Intervene Quickly & Briefly
Many adults tell me that when they witness cruelty in their classrooms, they freeze up and don’t know what to do or say. I tell them that the most effective way to intervene is also the easiest (not to mention the most time-effective.) Use brief messages, such as:
Check out the full article here:
In my conversations with educators and school administrators about both the struggles and the successes they’ve had with regard to bullying and bullying prevention, one common theme emerges: it’s all about the culture of the classroom.
This article, posted this week in Psychology Today, shares specific and practical strategies teachers use to create classroom cultures in which kindness is valued over coolness and popularity among students is based not on the power to dominate social interactions but rather on a young person’s willingness to reach out to a classmate with compassion.