Strategies that promote respect and positive relationships can help prevent bullying in the classroom.
Strategies for school staff
When students feel empowered to tell adults when bullying occurs, to create opportunities for positive relationships and make commitments not to engage in bullying, they can establish a positive peer culture that makes a huge contribution to the school culture as a whole and will reduce bullying.
- develop rules with students so they set their own climate of respect and responsibility
- teach their students that they can and should stand up for others, and how to do this in a safe way.
All school staff can:
- use positive terms, like what to do rather than what not to do
- be a role model and follow the school rules
- reinforce the rules
- consistently apply consequences for not following the rules
- show students respect and encourage them to be successful
- make expectations clear - keep requests simple, direct, and specific
- reward good behaviour - try to affirm good behaviour four to five times for every one criticism of bad behaviour
- use one-on-one feedback
- help students correct their behaviours - help them understand breaking the rules results in consequences: “I know you can stop [negative action] and go back to [positive action]. If you choose to continue, then [consequence].”
Classroom meetings provide a forum for students to talk about school-related issues beyond academics. These meetings can help teachers stay informed about what is going on at school and help students feel safe and supported.
These meetings work best in classrooms where a culture of respect is already established. Classroom meetings are typically short and held on a regular schedule. They can be held in a student’s main classroom, home room, or advisory period.
Establish ground rules
Students should feel free to discuss issues without fear. Classroom meetings are not a time to discuss individual conflicts or gossip about others – ‘No Blame Approach’.
Start the conversation
Focus on specific topics, such as bullying or respectful behaviours. Meetings can identify and address problems affecting the group as a whole. Stories should be broad and lead to solutions that build trust and respect between students. Use open-ended questions or prompts such as:
- share an example of a student who helped someone at school this week
- without names, share an example of someone who made another student feel bad
- what did students nearby do? What did you do? Did you want to do something different? Why or why not?
- if you could describe the perfect response to the situation what would it be? How hard or easy would it be to do? Why?
- how can the adults be more helpful?
End the meeting
End the meeting with a reminder that it is everyone’s job to make school a positive place to learn. Encourage students to talk to teachers or other trusted adults if they see bullying or are worried about how someone is being treated.
Follow-up when necessary
Monitor student body language and reactions. If a topic seems to be affecting a student, follow-up with him or her. Know what resources are available to support students affected by bullying.
For more information and support, see: