A teacher’s job is a challenging one. Teachers work largely independently, with a great deal of responsibility – much of which goes unrecognized. For example, while the more explicit task of imparting curriculum to students is a teacher’s most obvious role, the job of facilitating the development of healthy, equal relationships between students may remain invisible. But whether or not it is recognized and validated by anyone outside the school, teachers recognize that we are faced each day with a mini-society in our classrooms and that we bear the responsibility for its healthy development. Students enter the classroom, bringing with them not only their own personalities and histories, but also the influence of their family, community and society.
While effective bullying prevention strategies need to mobilize the whole school and all school community members, teachers can increase our knowledge and resources, gain support and constructive ideas by working as a team in the search for strategies to deal with specific bullying situations, while respecting students’ confidentiality and confidences.
A few simple initiatives to develop a team approach for dealing with bullying situations include:
- developing an informal network of colleagues, whose opinions you trust, whom you can consult, as needed;
- organizing a structured forum for collective problem-solving of classroom management issues; for example, a lunchtime discussion group where colleagues can talk about classroom situations;
- setting aside a portion of staff meetings for collective problem-solving.
While teachers need clear and coherent school systems and policies to support and guide their responses, a team approach among all staff in response to bullying within the school can provide invaluable support networks for teachers.