One of the most important social and emotional issues affecting schools today is bullying. It’s an issue that has gotten a lot of press over the past few years. As a result, many programs and resources about bullying behaviors and bullying prevention exist. A simple Internet search can net you an overwhelming amount of resources about bullying. These resources can take a while to vet. But you can get started on creating a bully-free classroom by implementing a few basic ideas now while you research an overall bullying prevention philosophy.
Define Bullying Behavior
To create a bully-free environment in your classroom, first teach students what bullying behaviors look like. Research states that bullying behaviors can be physical or emotional. Bullying behaviors can also be direct or covert.
To learn to identify these behaviors, students must see examples of what the behaviors look like. Teach the examples of these behaviors through different avenues. The best ways to show students examples of these behaviors is to role-play situations or to show videos of role-plays of the situations. Showing videos is probably safest way to show examples because the videos can be vetted and controlled. A live role-play can quickly go in an undesired direction, so if you use live role-play, make sure the participants can be trusted to keep the role-play on track.
Create a Positive Classroom Environment
Make your classroom a bully-free zone by creating an environment that reinforces positive behaviors. Once you’ve identified bullying behaviors, consistently model and reinforce those positive behaviors. Teaching children the appropriate ways to behave and interact, and giving them positive reinforcement for doing so, is one of the strongest tools in creating a bully-free environment.
Create and display guidelines for your expectations of behavior in your classroom. Emphasize the positive with your list. If you’re tempted to put negative behaviors, take a step back and think of what the desired, positive behavior would look like. Capture that positive behavior as your guideline. Make your list of behavioral guidelines appropriate to your age group. (Think about a list of 3–5 guidelines for younger students and 8–10 for older students.) When you observe students properly adhering to one of the guidelines, acknowledge the behavior so that students can associate the behavior with the specific guideline.
When you post your guidelines, be sure to make the list large enough to be seen from all parts of your classroom. Write the list on large poster board in Sharpie markers. If you’re looking for a good set of markers, check out the Sharpie Marker Set from Teacher Peach. Use the multiple colors to create a powerful set of guidelines. Display the list in a prominent placement in your classroom.
Add to the positive environment with these stress balls that tell students to be quiet, be calm, and be kind. Use the stress balls to help reinforce positive behaviors with students.
Finally, broadcast that your classroom is a bully-free zone by placing this freebie bully-free zone poster on your door.
Post Steps for Reporting Bullying Behaviors
To further make your classroom a bully-free zone, teach and post steps for reporting bullying behaviors. Teach students the appropriate steps they should go through to report a bullying behavior. Make sure the steps you post align with the steps dictated by your school. After you have gone over the steps, post the list in your room. This list should be smaller than the guidelines poster you make—you still want to keep the emphasis on the positive.
Learn More about Bullying Prevention
To learn more about bullying prevention, visit these sites:
What bullying prevention ideas do you put to use? Which websites do you find to be invaluable resources about bullying prevention? Let us know.