In response to a blog post by seasoned educator and well-known blogger, Jill Jenkins, let's talk about creating a bully-proof environment in your classroom.
To read Jill's post, "Reduce Bullying by Creating a Community", click on the image below.
For example, kindergarten teachers love the morning meeting concept. It is truly a great way to start the day, and it's all about community building. Students greet each other as they begin, touch base on what is going on in their classroom for the day, share personal experiences with each other, celebrate birthdays, and much more. This is a wonderful community-building framework. In order for these ideas and programs that we adopt to truly be effective, though, the adults involved must consistently promote the psychological components of that desired community.
Do you see this happening in your classroom?
"Psychological Membership" is the Key to Community-Building
across the classroom and the school.
What Does the Research Tell Us About Belonging?
- Walker and Green (2009) tell us that with regard to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, the basic human needs of food and shelter are the only precursors to the need for love and belonging within the context of personal growth and development.
- Johnson's findings (2009) indicate that both teacher support and classroom belongingness have a significant impact on student achievement, particularly in the areas of student autonomy, investment in learning, and school safety.
- Sutton and Wheatley (2003) studied secondary students and shared that they place great value on teachers who care about them. They also presented a connection between a teacher's sense of humor and high content mastery in the classroom.
- Those who Shaw (2010) labeled as "slow learners" are demonstrated to require close relationships with their teachers in order to develop academic skills and successes.
Fostering the Caring Among Kids
Do you use sarcasm in your classroom? Do you call kids out? Do you respond to an inappropriate or sarcastic answer from a student with the same type of behavior? Reflect. It matters. Did you know that psychologically, saracasm is one of the most damaging forms of communication? In order to model good citizenship and treating others kindly, we must make it a moment-to-moment effort to demonstrate what kindness, friendship, and understanding look like. Children will emulate what they see you do.
Lead by Example
Provide Self-Regulation Techniques
The "class clown" or "funny guy" isn't working toward a spot at the Improv!
Offer Developmentally Appropriate Problem-Solving Strategies
We explain it at the start of the school year, we model, practice, and encourage it.
Jane pushed me when I got the ball. I gave Jane A Bug and A Wish:
"It Bugs Me when you push me, I Wish You wouldn't push me when you want the ball."
This strategy teaches children from a young age to express what they are feeling, to stand up for themselves, and to stop someone from crossing boundaries with them. Using the strategy builds confidence and teaches that expressing their feelings and discomfort with situations gets results. And there is no need for anyone to get upset.
The other piece of this strategy that makes it effective is the adult role, of course. The rule is that a bug and a wish is a serious tool, and it can only be used when the child is seriously bothered by the behavior of another child. We role play scenarios to determine when it is appropriate to use this tool. Also, it is made clear to all that once you have received A Bug and A Wish, you must comply forever. If you do not, the teacher is notified and consequences for poor choices are followed. (This may be thinking time during recess or some other supportive measure to teach the offender some self-regulation.)