As our classrooms become increasingly diverse, it appears other components in our classroom are increasing as well. One of those components that appear to be increasing is that of bullying. Rather it is currently be in your classroom, has been in your classroom or unfortunately will be in your classroom one day, all teachers must be prepared as much as possible to handle the situation as it may arise. We understand that bullying comes in many shapes and sizes so to speak, question is how will one handle it when it does?
In discussion with my mentor teacher I learned although she does not believe that she has any cases of bullying in her classroom as of now, she has had to deal with bullying in the past. She explained to me about the importance of having as much information as possible about the situation at hand. This way you can make a knowledgeable decision of how to handle the situation, should you call the principle in right away, should you call the parents in right away, or could you handle the situation without any outside input. Of course, she did state that regardless of how big or small the situation might be you always inform the principle and parents/guardians of the situation. She explained the reasoning you would want to keep the principle as well as parents/guardians informed is so that just in case it escalates then there are no surprises to anyone of what has previously occurred.
My mentor teacher explained that you have to be on your toes at all times with children as the simplest name-calling can escalate into something bigger very quickly. She shared how now with technology being in the hands of our young children it has shown to be so much easier for things to escalate very quickly. She uses and teaches the “golden rule” in attempt allow children to understand how important it is to treat others the way that they too would want to be treated. By using this as a strategy in her classroom, she says she has over heard students repeat the golden rule to others when they are not being very nice to one another.
She also teaches students about differences between one another, that just because there is a difference between one another that does not make one good vs. bad, right vs. wrong, or even weird as some students may think. If a student claims they are being bullied but you are having a hard time catching the bullies in the act, create a plan where the targeted student can make a silent signal to you when the bullying is taking place, that way you can catch the bullies in the act and handle it accordingly. In addition, use “positive discipline,” changing behavior by rewarding what is positive and not punishing what is negative, is an excellent and often underutilized tool for anyone who works with children.
In conclusion, although bullying has increased we can teach our children to be courageous “alongside standers”. Witnesses to bullying (Bystanders) possess tremendous potential power to reduce bullying through the deployment of positive peer pressure – one of the most powerful forces in youth culture today. Teach bystanders how to become heroic Alongside Standers of Targets. One way to do this is through courage training and a commitment to responsibility and duty toward others.