What can teachers do to interrupt bullying?
The following exercise will help you gather information about your students so you can better meet your obligation to learn about and reduce the incidence of bullying.
Your assignment is the following:
First: Identify a group of students - in a class, or students on a committee – who are genuinely interested (ask for volunteers) in participating in a consultation.
Second: Organize a meeting with the students.
Third: During the consultation, ask students to answer the following questions about ways adults can help a young person in difficulty.
- What might prevent you from approaching an adult in the school to get help?
- What might help you approach an adult in the school to share a personal problem, such as being bullied, or knowing about it happening?
- What might an adult say or do that would stop a student from talking to them about a problem of bullying at school?
- What might an adult say or do that would help a student talk about a problem of bullying at school?
- What are some key words adults can use in these situations?
- What are some key words you would suggest avoiding?
- Let students use their own words; try to resist the temptation to correct their grammar, their syntax, their style and their spelling errors.
- Ask them why, in their opinion, it is important to have a definition of bullying, and discuss their answers in class.
- Give students the opportunity to debate the overall question. It is likely that the subject of bullying will generate a great deal of discussion.
- Launch the discussion in an open-ended way, without preconceived ideas (for example, avoid proposing your own or another definition as a starting point).
- Try letting students work in small groups for this exercise. At the same time, it is important to remain sensitive to students who have been targeted by bullying and who may be left out or feel vulnerable in such a context. You can try as much as possible to establish trust and an open atmosphere with these students, without drawing attention to them.
- Try doing this exercise individually as well. Ask each student to create their own definition. It is best not to draw more attention to some definitions over others, for example, by making comments such as “good answer”. Instead you can display them together so that students can read them all.