How to use social and emotional learning to stop bullying?

Betty Richards

Hello! i'm an undergraduate senior looking foward to expanding my skills and new ideas into future teaching therapies in the classroom, but my question is how do we apply social and emotional learning toward eliminating bullying in schools.
which technique would you target first. Not a bad idea because bullying in schools is something that needs to be undercontrol,so would this be a start?

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Hi Betty, I think this is a

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Hi Betty,
I think this is a great idea. I just finished a course in Anger Management and Emotional Intelligence. Maybe a good technique would be to create a safe environment to share experiences and have the students discuss solutions.
Marla Sloane

Montessori 4-6th grade teacher

I agree with Marla, having a

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I agree with Marla, having a safe space is very important. Supporting the learning of social skills in general is a great way to prevent bullying behaviors from occurring, but if you do have to deal with the situation, your approach will differ depending on the ages of the atudents involved.
There are wonderful social problem solving programs (ICPS is one)that feature lessons for early childhood through upper elementary grades. Students that have this curriculum have a problem-solving protocol that they find very helpful. They are usually intently interested in the topic of bullying, and are open to hearing about bullying research, or suggestions for approaching bullies.
We talk about three roles: bully, victim, and bystander. We role play different situations and reinforce the idea that bystanders facilitate for bullies, and can only support victims if they speak up or get help.
Whenever I have a problem with respect in my group (19 9-12 year olds), I use an active listening approach to facilitate discussion between those involved, but it usually doesn't come to that. Typically a short discussion with one of the parties sparks a dialog that the students handle on their own. I check in to find out of the problem has been solved, but I often don't even hear about the solution. It's for them, not for me.
BTW, we define bullying as any behavior that is designed to hurt another person emotionally or physically.
MK

Counselor

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In my experince, SEL is the root to solving the relational aggression/bully issues occuring among our students. You're all totally right, the first element has to be a safe learning environment. One program that I feel strongly about is "Capturing Kids' Hearts." It isn't a bully program but a system that guides teachers to structure and manage the classroom in collaboration with students. Students learn that they are all accountable for their actions and have a social responsible to care about others as much as they care about themselves. I can not do the program justice in a few sentences but after completing the training myself I convinced my school's administrators to go as well. When they came back all of them expressed that it changed them not as educators but wives and mothers as well! We're now planning to roll the training out to the entire faculty.

No matter what methods you choose to use to teach SEL the most important consideration you must make is how well does it integrate into the everyday function of the classroom/school. Managing a classroom using principles of compassion and personal accountablilty, in my experience, has far more powerful effect on bullying than does an "anti-bully" program.

Montessori 4-6th grade teacher

Amy, Congratulations on your

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Amy,

Congratulations on your training experience! I've heard other teachers say that training in SEL issues can be transformative.

I agree that the issue is much wider than anti-bullying. It touches on aspects of school culture such as student autonomy, leadership, and character development.

I'm very excited that SEL is getting so much attention. I learned more than 20 years ago through a framework called ICPS, which teaches skills like conflict resolution, emotional sensitivity, and systematic social planning. It's a very inexpensive and widely available program backed by longitudinal research. But when I used to talk to classroom teachers about it they always said they didn't have enough time to implement such a program.

Perhaps the growing recognition of the importance of social learning will convince more classroom teachers that SEL is worth the time it takes.

I find it actually saves me time because my students begin to respond to pro-social suggestions I make without having to go through a problem solving protocol every time. They also use the conflict resolution steps spontaneously so that when they do come for help, they have often tried several solutions and have observations about their relative effectiveness.

I hope you have as much success bringing the rest of your faculty on board as you did with your administrators. How wonderful to work in a school that can be so responsive!

MK

Edutopia Consulting Online Editor

Capturing Kids' Hearts

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Quote:

In my experience, SEL is the root to solving the relational aggression/bully issues occurring among our students. You're all totally right, the first element has to be a safe learning environment. One program that I feel strongly about is "Capturing Kids' Hearts." It isn't a bully program but a system that guides teachers to structure and manage the classroom in collaboration with students. Students learn that they are all accountable for their actions and have a social responsible to care about others as much as they care about themselves. I can not do the program justice in a few sentences but after completing the training myself I convinced my school's administrators to go as well. When they came back all of them expressed that it changed them not as educators but wives and mothers as well! We're now planning to roll the training out to the entire faculty.

No matter what methods you choose to use to teach SEL the most important consideration you must make is how well does it integrate into the everyday function of the classroom/school. Managing a classroom using principles of compassion and personal accountablilty, in my experience, has far more powerful effect on bullying than does an "anti-bully" program.

Hi Amy,

I want to second the endorsement for Capturing Kids' Hearts. This is an amazing philosophy and, yes, program to bring to your site and integrate into your school culture. Each day, each class begins with "Good Things" where 3-4 students share something positive they have recently seen or experienced. That is just one strategy. In my work in schools, if applied routinely by all, CKH is a powerful tool for creating a safe, positive and nearly bully-free environment.

Best,
Rebecca Alber

Montessori 4-6th grade teacher

Hi everyone, I have to share

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Hi everyone,
I have to share a recent conversation that occured during one of our routine class meetings. We were discussing bullying issues. Specifically, how to handle a classmate (absent during this discussion) who has been pressing people for secrets and then spreading them as gossip (and constructing innaccurate gossip when secrets weren't forthcoming).
I was surprised by the universality of the problem, but impressed by the class' interest in finding solutions. They reported having tried two strategies unsuccessfully. They explained to me that asking for the behavior to stop hadn't worked, and neither had avoid/ignore. They didn't seem to know how to go forward as individuals, so I suggested they craft a group plan using a unified response whenever the behavior occurred.
One of my sixth year students raised her hand to comment, "Hey, that's just like what happened in Egypt!"
The discussion continued and they settled on a response which most students were willing to embrace. A few decided to pursue their own individual strategies. At first the group worried that their plan might be too obvious, and would be easily discovered. We talked about the possible consequences of being "found out" and they decided that it didn't really matter and might even be a good thing. That way anyone who would use a bullying approach to get attention (their assessment of the situation), would know that powerful forces could be arrayed against them.
I closed by assuring the students that though their challenge was not as life-threatening as the one faced by Egyptians, it would require courage and commitment all the same!
Class meetings take our time and can be "messy" sometimes, but they are such an important point of impact for us as educators. Every so often, they are magical.
MK

Communications Outreach Coordinator at CASEL

Hi Mary Kate and

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Hi Mary Kate and Everyone,
Your description gets right to using problem-solving strategies to help children consider their options. So often with problems like bullying, we feel isolated and without choices, whether we are kids or adults. What your class did was to try different choices after considering the possible consequences of each one. This is very empowering and is transferrable to other situations. What a great class!

Former Teacher

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I have been in educational technology for a long time, but was part of a the innovative teaching staff of a high school in Ohio back in the mid-70's. My graduate background was in Interpersonal Communication and I taught this course at multiple universities. I was able to build a communication curriculum for this all-males, very "jock" cultured, secondary school. Part of this curricula was a mandatory course in Interpersonal. In addition, to all of the in-class, sensitivity training and activity exercises, probably the most important component that induced behavioral change was encouraging the faculty and staff to model and reinforce the healthy behaviors that the kids were learning in class. I found that this was most important in the hallways during the changing of classes, in the cafeteria during lunch, and after school in extracurricular interactions. Best of luck on your journey...

High School Teacher

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Hello Everyone,
The topic of this discussion drew me in. Bob, I am curious about the communication curriculum you have mentioned...specifically how it addressed the very "jock" culture. In high school there is more physical and social space between teachers and students. We do not see each other most of the day, usually 1 class period. When bullying or any type of social pressure becomes noticeable to staff, it is usually something that has taken root long before. I am wondering if you, Bob or any of you can point me to good resources that help in educating a faculty on how to best model the sensitivity training on which this discussion has focused. (?) Thanks for any help you can offer.

Middle School Director of Student Affairs

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Hi all,
At my school, I am in charge of the majority of discipline issues and speak to many students on a daily basis. I often act as the mediator between students and/or take the role of the liason between teachers and students and parents. As in most middle schools, bullying is a topic that is dealt with regularly. I had never heard specifically of the Capturing Kids Hearts program and from your comments, I intend to research more about it immediately. Thank you all for your descriptions and stories about how you are helping the children you teach such valuable life lessons on ways to work out differences utilizing SEL techniques.

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