Bullying In Your Classroom

Bullying has become such a hot topic lately.  It has become so well used that it might actually be misused.  Students call lots of things bullying that, by definition, aren’t.  Let’s not get caught up on that though because at least light is being shown on this really important topic!  For the sake of this post, I’m going to define bullying as an aggressive behavior that is done repeatedly between students who have an imbalance of power in their relationship.  You can read more here, which is where I came up with the definition.  

It wasn’t until I saw this video, that I became truly inspired about bullying.  This teacher gets it.  She sees that the core of any issue is relationships.

The video refers to a mom’s blog article.  Here it is you are want to read it.  It’s so good!

As I watched this video I thought about school shootings.  I have always felt helpless when I think about school shootings and yet this teacher has such a simple and practical way to find the students who are not fitting in!  She is finding the students who are more prone to bullying and violence and making connections with them.  

After watching the video, I made a self-assessment for students to complete in order to help me find the students who are being left out.  I wanted something that I could use to evaluate students more fully.  

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You can download this self assessment from my Teachers Pay Teachers store. I have also included 3 sheets to compile the data. This data will help you see which students are struggling to connect with others.

So what do we do with students who are on the margins?  The first step, which we’ve already talked about, is to identify which students are not making healthy connections with others.  After that, we have to try some creative and genuine strategies to help them connect.

  1. Make them feel seen by eating lunch with them.  Make an effort to talk with them throughout the day about positive behaviors you notice in them or about things that interest them.  
  2. Come up with some cooperative group games to build positive memories and experiences with other students.
  3. Find their strengths and highlight them.  Other students may recognize these strengths and naturally be drawn to that student.  For example, if the student is good at doing hands-on activities, have them help you demonstrate a project for the class.
  4. Brainstorm a few students who you think they could have a genuine friendship with.  Find a time for them to be partners or in a group together.
  5. Bring a new activity out to recess and have this student introduce it to others.

Something else that tug at my heart recently was this video about “How to make a bully (from scratch).”  What this video did for me was to make me think about the whole picture of bullying and how we address it.  Here is what really stood out to me…

  • “Bullying is a relationship issue.”  Yes!  So then we have to look at building positive relationships with the student instead of just negative consequences.
  • The video also focuses on the victim and how they become victims because of broken relationships in their own lives too.  It’s not just about finding the bullies.  It’s about finding students who would be easy targets and making positive connections with them.
  • “Rewiring this system can only occur through connections with others.”  Yes!  Let’s help facilitate this in our classrooms!
  • “When children say “I don’t care” their brain is unconsciously saying, “I don’t feel cared for by anyone, anywhere.”  This phrase might be the easiest and obvious red flag to see.  Find a way to connect with these students.
  • “We are systematically applying the same treatment that created the bully in the first place and then expecting it to help.”  Let’s change this!
  • “Bully preventions and intervention can only occur in the slow stages of relationship building.”  Let’s identify those students at risk for being bullies and for being bullied and start making meaningful connections with them!

Have you heard the quote that goes something like, “Students who need the most love, ask for it in the hardest ways.”  I often feel this way with students who bully others.  I have a strong sense of justice so when one student is mean to another, my tolerance for them goes down.  Their behavior is not acceptable and I will not stand for it.  I also have to remind myself that they are behaving this way because they are calling out for help, for love.  I also find myself thinking that I have so many other demands on my time, is it really okay for me to give even more?  To give up a lunch period is hard but if it will help prevent school violence, it’s a small price to pay.  If spending some time brainstorming creative ways to pull students on the margins into group activities, those minutes are not wasted!  

Be that teacher they look back on and say, “It was my 3rd grade teacher.  The one that talked to me, included me, saw past my bad behavior, and loved me.  They are the reason I am a success.”

Here’s to helping students see their worth,

Erika

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