Posted by Tim Dixon on July 17th, 2014
Teachers want to create an environment in their classrooms that is as conducive to learning as possible. Outside of the classroom, however, disruptive behaviours such as bullying can make it difficult for students to learn. Bullying also wears down a student’s sense of well-being and self-esteem, which can create feelings of isolation and disconnection from the school community.
While the most effective strategies for bullying prevention are implemented throughout an entire school or community, there are some things individual teachers can do to foster a school environment intolerant of bullying.
Rather than a trial-and-error approach, or doing what seems best at the time, it’s important to take anti-bullying actions that are supported by evidence. For example, US-based researcher and assistant professor Cixin Wang published a paper (outlined in this article) that lists a number of evidence-based principles and ways to implement them. These include: nurturing positive student-teacher relationships, fostering anti-bullying attitudes, modelling appropriate behaviour, etc.
While it may seem like an uphill battle in some schools without anti-bullying policy and strategy in place, the effort to involve the entire school is ultimately worthwhile and more effective. For example, in this article posted on the US-based site for the National Association of Elementary School Principals, James Dillon urges principals to get involved in anti-bullying measures. In talking with your principal, you may want to reference this article.
Evidence points to the importance of teaching students about appropriate and effective actions they can take. There are a number of organizations that provide resources and materials teachers can use to teach their students about bullying and its prevention, and in the process educate themselves as well. The John Howard Society of Alberta has a number of these resources available, including lesson plans for rules and bylaws governing bullying, and guidelines for discussions about bullying.
By following evidence-based best practices, working as a community, and informing students through teaching, teachers can make a difference, reducing and even preventing bullying in their schools and in their students’ lives.