Bullying is a major problem in fifth grade. One of my major tasks as a fifth-grade teacher is to stop bullying in my classroom or elsewhere in the elementary school. Although I am a new teacher, I have found ways to stop bullying with my fifth-graders.
Use the Friendly Formula
Our school uses a technique called the “Friendly Formula” in an attempt to stop bullying. Students from kindergarteners to fifth-graders can use this plan, although older students can better understand the objective.
The wronged student tells the other student how she feels when she is treated in a certain way. The wronged student asks the bullying student to change his behavior. Together they work out a solution that is reasonable, workable and safe. These sessions are supervised by an adult but the students share the responsibility to stop the bullying.
Students can drop compliment notes to other students. Students love to write notes to other students, and this system can encourage them to treat each other more kindly and stop bullying. This system does require a lot of teacher modeling and control, especially for the first few months. The teacher must check the notes to ensure the notes are positive. Students must also sign their names to all messages. By itself, this system will not stop bullying but it will get the students accustomed to writing positive things instead of put-downs or negative comments.
Students typically make the right decision when I ask them to pick classmates who have excelled in class and treated others well. I have told my class that I have veto power but they have never forced me to use it. Focusing on students who make good decisions and use kind language is another tool in my arsenal to stop bullying.
Students who bully classmates should be punished. When students see others get away with bullying behavior, the message is that such behavior is acceptable. I enforce consequences with my fifth-grade students who bully classmates.
The consequences are appropriate for ten and eleven-year-olds and range from writing sentences to losing privileges (computer time, help in other classes) to eating lunch in silence. Although teachers cannot be involved in every little spat among students, students caught bullying others must learn that consequences will follow.
Bullies typically target kids they do not know. We encourage teamwork in many of our fifth-grade lessons, especially in math and science. As students get to know each other better, it becomes more difficult for them to bully one another. Students will continue to bicker and argue, as do adults, but the one-sided nature of bullying is eroded. Students will become more accustomed to give-and-take relationships with others.
Taken individually, none of these approaches can stop bullying, especially with fifth-graders who are entering puberty and experiencing lots of conflicting emotions. However, taken together, they can help stop bullying by focusing on teamwork, empathy, and logical consequences.
My teaching experience