Bullying is a real problem in schools today. Students who are bullied aren’t always the ones who lash out (though they can), rather they are the ones who take the emotional abuse, and this can be devastating.
But how do we as teachers stop something that happens outside of our classroom, outside of our schools, and even online?
We have to be vigilant.
We have to listen.
We have to create a safe environment for our students.
- TREAT YOUR STUDENTS AND COLLEAGUES WITH CARE
Respecting your students is the first step to helping them. It’s essential that students know you care for their well-being. This can be shown by how you treat them and others. Students look to teachers and how they handle all interactions, whether with other students or other educators. Show warmth. Show respect. Show you care, and students will learn by example.
- DISCUSS BULLYING WITHIN YOUR CLASSROOM LESSONS
The more of a spotlight you put on the issue, the better chance you have fixing it. It’s important to take time in your lessons to check in with students. By having built-in lessons and discussions about bullying, you can help create a trust with your students. If they are experiencing it, or know of others in trouble, they can come to you. You want these discussions to be about making it okay to discuss bullying.
- KNOW YOUR SCHOOL’S RULES AND POLICIES ON BULLYING
Keeping the rules consistent throughout the school is key to making sure all teachers and staff are working together. Students and teachers need to know when bullying is occurring so it can be dealt with right away.
- KEEP AN OPEN DIALOGUE ABOUT BULLYING WITH OTHER TEACHERS
You are not alone in trying to keep up with the rules and policies of the school. You are not alone in trying to protect your students from bullying. All of your colleagues are doing the same work, and because of the emotional nature of this problem it’s important to have support. Keep current with how your colleagues are handling any bullying issues that arise. Discuss techniques that have worked; even ones that haven’t. You are a team in protecting your students.
- ACT ON ANY INCIDENT IMMEDIATELY
Remember, if you hear something or see something that constitutes as harassment or bullying, you must act on it right away. Even if it’s in the hallways, outside, before/after school, or in the lunchroom, you need to stop it and hold the students accountable. This can be simple as stopping an interaction and simply talking to the student, asking them why they are acting out in this way. Listening to them. Students need to know we are watching out for them and are ready to help at any moment. Make them feel safe by following through. Diligence is key.
Bullying is a problem that often happens when teachers aren’t around, or aren’t looking. It’s why we need to make it a priority to not only search it out, but create an environment in our classroom where students can come and alert us to any bullying that may be happening. They need to know we will listen and keep them safe.