Tes author James Burns designs and facilities anti-bullying professional development for teachers. He shares his tips for enabling teacher to bully-proof their classrooms and build resilience in their students.
Tell us a little about your teaching and education background.
My schooling, which includes an MA in Special Education, never really hit the mark when it came down to student behaviour management and the damage that harassment, intimidation and bullying can cause in a person’s life. Twenty years ago I decided to take a hard look at this epidemic that plagues schools.
How can bullying affect students in the short and long term?
Bullying has both short and long term consequences – it truly is behaviour that no-one forgets. As a child it reduces self-esteem, increases the risk of suicide and depression, causes academic and behavioural problems and contributes to poor attendance.
How can teachers empower themselves to address bullying?
As a teacher, empowerment comes from knowledge and awareness of all the factors associated with bullying. The real 3R’s: Respect, Responsibility and Resilience help teachers to develop the ability to hold the bully accountable but, more importantly help strengthen the victim and build resilience that leads to lifelong success.
What are your tips for teachers to help combat bullying in their classroom?
Ensure students understand and comply with the school rules and that consequences are enforced.
Learn to stop asking and start telling as too many questions can lead to confusion and the bending of the rules.
Teach respect and encourage responsibility in students at all times.
Show students how to cooperate even though they might disagree.
Incorporate character education in your school and in your classroom.