Safety in our schools is a collective effort, requiring the participation of administrators, educators, kitchen staff, coaches, bus drivers, and maintenance staff. If everyone is on board it will create an inclusive environment for all students. School safety can be improved by promoting, teaching, and exhibiting respect at all times. In order to prevent bullying, making the effort to set classroom ground rules and reinforcing them have proven to be effective. Here are some strategies that can help.
Lead by Example
Every adult is seen as a role model in the school environment, whether they choose to be or not. Students emulate what they see and sometimes make decisions based on the behavior of others. Keep a positive tone, smile, and display gratitude and joy as often as you can. Try not to let personal stress affect how you interact with students. Encourage them to reach for goals and give them a platform to display their talents and skills. Reward their acts of kindness when you see it.
Create an Inclusive Environment
Help students feel at-ease by showing them they are not alone. Offer them opportunities to share their joys and frustrations. Some teachers use classroom meetings to provide a safe space to interact on a regular basis. Providing consistency and structure encourages creativity and trust. Sharing student work (art, projects, essays, stories) gives them something to be proud of. They will also notice the work of their peers and feel a sense of comradery.
Create a safe mechanism for students to notify staff of bullying or abusive behavior. Keep an eye on areas of the school that might be known for bullying such as particular areas of the playground or cafeteria. Staff should make their presence known by monitoring those areas on a regular basis. If you sense tension building between students, take the time to address it early, making a time and place to mediate a discussion. If students know that you care it can de-escalate a potential situation.
Reinforce the Rules
Setting ground rules early will help set the tone. In addition to school rules that apply for the entire student body, some teachers set rules for their individual classroom. In either case, put a positive spin on it by emphasizing the safe and joyful environment you want to establish rather than what students are not allowed to do. Repeat the message regularly and enforce the rules consistently. If you do not follow through when a rule is broken, you could lose control of your classroom and the respect of the students. If you find that enforcing a rule is impractical, you should probably eliminate it.
Obtain additional support
If a student needs more help than the school itself can provide, make additional resources available to them.
Communities In Schools of Jacksonville offers extra support to students in the form of mentorship, after-school programs, mental health support, and training in life skills, relationships – anything that helps the child stay in school and succeed. Learn more about CIS-Jacksonville.