For schools and classroom teachers to combat bullying, they must understand what it entails and identify it in their hallways and classrooms
While bullying has long existed, it has only recently been recognized as a pervasive problem in schools across the nation.
According to recent studies, up to 30 percent of U.S. students in 6th through 10th grade are involved in moderate to frequent bullying either as bullies, victims, or witnesses/bystanders.
This means that nearly one in three children will be involved in bullying at some point in their education journey.
With an ever-increasing emphasis on academic outcomes, the link between student behavior and academic achievement can no longer be denied. If students are acting out, disturbing others, interrupting lessons, or suffering under fear, the learning environment is compromised.
Setting the tone for acceptable behavioral expectations and creating a positive culture for a school are critical for creating a successful learning environment.
Know how to identify bullying
In order for schools and classroom teachers to be able to combat bullying, they must be able to understand what it entails and know how to identify it in their hallways and classrooms. Generally, bullying can be defined as aggressive behavior that is intended to cause harm or distress, occurs repeatedly over time, and occurs in a relationship in which there is an imbalance of power or strength. Common types of bullying include physical, verbal, non-verbal (such as obscene gesturing, ostracizing), and cyber bullying.
(Next page: The tools and skills needed to end bullying)
Most professional development time for training teachers is used to focus on academics, not behavior. Many teachers have not taken a course on classroom management, and may not know how to identify bullying when it happens, or know what to do when faced with a bullying situation.
Typically schools have a one-day or one-week program with posters, songs, assemblies, or pledges each year to shine light on the issue of bullying—while all of these actions are encouraged, they are just a small part of the solution. Addressing bullying within a classroom setting requires continuous attention and effort. Establishing rules and consequences exclusively will not solve the concern; the specific bullying behaviors must be addressed.
Put the right tools and information in educators’ hands
At Pearson, we believe there are three necessary components to effectively address bullying—tracking interactions, investigating, and supplying teachers and administrators with intervention training and resources. Specifically, teachers and administrators need a central location to track related information, such as types of bullying occurring, the frequency of the actions, the location, identification of the victim and perpetrator, and if the consequences applied were effective and consistent.
The administrative team can use the information to better identify areas of professional development needed for teachers, as well as teaching and learning experiences for the students. Staff can be redeployed to have improved supervision and interaction around identified “hot spots” within the school or in the schoolyard. Better budgetary decisions can be made as to whether more personnel or additional resources are needed.
Additionally, teachers need resources, including training, to assist in identifying common factors that predict bullying and victimization and the various forms of bullying.
Tools such as web-based classroom management solution can be implemented to help schools and districts gather real-time data around bullying and deploy solutions to address problem behaviors. These tools allow teachers and administrators to track bullying incidents, as well as applicable consequences and take necessary action.
As a result, the administrative team can proactively use the information to create a safer and more secure learning environment, and teachers are empowered to better manage bullying situations in their classrooms and throughout the school.
Improve learning outcomes
Dropouts, suspensions, expulsions, at-risk students, bullying, violence, classroom disruptions and loss of instructional time can all contribute to an unhealthy school climate. Taking measures to improve academic performance and outcomes starts with improving the behavior of students in the classroom and the overall learning environment.
Cultivating and maintaining a positive school climate and improving school discipline policies and practices are essential factors required for raising academic achievement and supporting student success. Schools must work in a deliberate and planned fashion to address inappropriate behaviors that interfere with teaching and learning and then provide prevention and intervention strategies to alter and redirect those misbehaviors.
The result is an environment that encourages positive interactions and learning outcomes.
Rosemarie Allen, Ed. D, is the director of client program management for Review360, a behavior management solution from Pearson.