As we end anti-bullying month, I am reminded how important it is to have an on-going process in place to address issues that occur during the entire school year with regards to bullying. As a middle school educator, I address bullying head on through the use of the Tribes agreements. Each agreement is defined in detail with several practice opportunities, as well as, on-going review, discussion and self evaluation. This year has been particularly challenging with one of my middle school classes. As I was building a safe environment through inclusion activities and the agreements, it became apparent that more effort was needed. A lot of bullying behaviors were occurring from these students during breaks and lunch. Threatening looks were being exchanged during class. A core group of students were being referred to the counselor from their teachers.
I feel that the key to positive changes with bullying is through a clear understanding of mutual respect. As a class we defined what mutual respect looks like, sounds like, and feels like. A second chart was developed containing two columns. One column was titled “what mutual respect is,” while the second column was titled “what mutual respect is not.”
This second charting allowed us to get a little deeper with specific examples of bullying behaviors. Following all the charting, the counselor was asked to join the class for our community circle. I developed a community circle activity called “What would you do instead…?” Each student was given a 3 by 5 card that had a scenario that did not illustrate mutual respect but illustrated bullying behaviors. The students were asked to orally read their card and share what they would do instead of what was written. The scenarios included specific behaviors that have been observed. They were from the stand point of the bully or the bystander. Some students were unsure of what they would do in the situation written on the card so they asked the community circle for some ideas. Lots of great ideas were shared followed by a rich discussion.
Positive changes have occurred with my middle school class. Each week the students are asked to self evaluate how they think things are going both personally and in the class. The counselor has also received fewer referrals. This will be an on-going focus with the class as we continue to move from inclusion, to influence, to community.
Article about using Tribes to prevent bullying-
Classroom strategies to prevent bullying-