Bullying has been an issue at schools for many years. Recently, bullying has become an even bigger issue as reports of student suicides resulting from bullying have increased. There are many people that need to be proactive in preventing bullying including school administrators, parents, and teachers. As a teacher I have taken the following steps to help prevent bullying in my classroom.
Make it a Rule from Day One
In my classroom I only have four rules. The first three rules are very general: Always do your best, Follow directions, and Respect the rights of others. The fourth rule in my classroom is much more specific, No teasing or name calling. I make sure that students understand how important this rule is from their first day in my classroom. The only names students are allowed to use for each other are the names their parents gave them. I also discuss the rule with parents at our back to school night so all parties involved are aware. I have found that being clear up front that teasing is not going to be tolerated helps to prevent it all year long.
Explain Bullying to Students
I teach third grade and many of my students don’t understand what bullying really is. I spend time at the beginning of each school year discussing what bullying is. Bullying is when someone intentionally hurts another person, physically or emotionally, on a repeated basis. For bullying to take place it has to be on purpose and has to happen more than once. My third graders love to tell on each other, “He cut in line”, “He stole my pencil”, but I make sure they are able to distinguish these incidents from bullying. When students understand what bullying is they are able to identify their own, and others inappropriate behavior.
The Role of Bystanders in Bullying
There are typically three or more people involved in any bullying situation, the bully, the person being bullied, and the bystander(s). I discuss with my students the job of the bystander, or witness, to bullying. The people that are witnesses have the responsibility to tell the bully to stop and to go get an adult. Many students do not want to get involved for fear of being bullied themselves, but it is important that all students on campus understand their role in ending bullying.
Zero Tolerance for Bullying
In my classroom their is zero tolerance for bullying. Since I spend time at the beginning of the school year discussing the rules and communicating my expectations to both parents and students there are no surprises. If a student is bullying another student I contact both sets of parents and my principal to make them aware of the situation. Even if it’s the first incident of bullying I feel it is important to be consistent and set a precedent. Small issues can become big issues if left alone, so I make sure I take care of bullying before it becomes a serious problem.
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