As a school teacher or administrator, you’re probably already aware of the issue of bullying in the classroom and the effects it can have on your students’ learning. You’ve also probably noticed how the issue has been highlighted in the media lately, with accounts of bullying leading to horrific consequences for victims and their families. And a recent survey of more than 1,400 parents revealed 85% of them report their child being bullied in school, highlighting how prevalent the problem is. This is compounded by the fact that only 45% of those parents report that their child’s school takes the issue of bullying seriously.
Taking all these factors into consideration, it’s clear that bullying in the classroom deserves more attention in the classroom. As October is National Stop Bullying Month, which includes an official Stop Bullying Day on October 9th, now is a great time to consider managing bullying in the classroom. And you’ve got some tips to get you started in this article.
Have Your Own Policy for Managing Bullying in the Classroom
The previously mentioned survey indicates that although your school probably has an official bullying policy, it may not always resolve issues of bullying at school. So, you’ve got to implement your own bullying policy for your classroom. This should be established at the start of the school year and sent home to parents during the first week of school. Not only does it help to protect yourself from complaints, but it will give parents the opportunity to discuss bullying with their children.
Go through the policy with your students by defining what bullying is and make sure they are clear on what the consequences of bullying in your classroom are. And be sure to offer yourself as the solution to any student who is being bullied. Make it clear that they can come to you at any time in a bullying situation and you’ll be there to resolve the issue and protect their privacy.
Observe and Stay Present
One of the best ways to stop bullying in the classroom is to prevent it before it starts. At the beginning of the school year, take the time to identify who the potential bullies and victims are in your group. Students who have fewer friends, are alone frequently, have disabilities or exhibit neurodiversity are often more likely to be bullied. To look for potential bullies, notice “gateway indicators” or behaviors that can lead to more overt forms of bullying, such as rolling eyes, using sarcasm, laughing and making jokes inappropriately, and turning their back on others.
Always be present as much as possible even outside of your classroom. Bullies look for opportunities when teachers or staff members aren’t present, so be around in these areas, such as bathrooms, the hallways, in the lunchroom, and during recess.
Engage Other Student Leaders to Help
For the times you can’t be there to observe student behavior, enlist student leaders to help. Identifying student leaders early on in your classroom means paying attention to those students who others look up to for guidance. You can pull these students aside and ask them to help you throughout the year by being a role model and good friend to other students in the classroom.
Continue to develop relationships with these students and encourage them to look out for any potential bullying victims you’ve already identified, especially when you’re not around. And be sure to check in with them frequently to stay on top of any bullying behavior you may have missed while you were out.
Instruct & Step-In When Bullying Starts
Empowering your students is also important to managing bullying in the classroom. Let students know what to do if they are ever victims of bullying. Give them examples of actionable behaviors they can engage in such as ignoring the bully and walking away, looking the bully in the eye and telling them stop, and being sure to tell you, the teacher, or another adult when it does happen.
If you do catch bullying going on in your classroom, don’t wait to step in. By not addressing the situation right away, you are enabling the bully to continue his or her bad behavior. Catch the bully off-guard by calling out the behavior immediately. Stick to your policy and follow the consequences for each bullying offense you catch.
Following these tips and strategies on managing bullying in the classroom will allow for greater opportunity for all your students to flourish in learning without bullying getting in the way. You’ll also be setting yourself up for greater success as a teacher and the benefits that come along with building a sense of community in your classroom against bullying.
And Daybreak Lesson Plans is always here to help educators in their classroom’s success, so be sure to grab some more tips and strategies for your classroom management on our blog!