How to Create a Bully-Free Classroom

Did you know that October is National Bullying Prevention Month? Did you also know that 1 out of every 5 students report being bullied? 

Students that are bullied suffer from anxiety and depression, health problems, and are more likely to be violent inside and outside of school (Edutopia 2013). Since students often misbehave when their regular teacher is absent, it's important for substitute teachers to manage the classroom in a way that promotes respect and positivity in order to avoid bullying situations.

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StopBullying.Gov offers the following guidelines on how to create a bully-free classroom. 

1. Create ground rules.

  • Develop rules with students so they set their own climate of respect and responsibility. 
  • Use positive terms, like what to do, rather than what not to do. 
  • Support school-wide rules. 

2. Reinforce the rules. 

  • Be a role model and follow the rules yourself. Show students respect and encourage them to be successful. 
  • Make expectations clear. Keep your requests simple, direct, and specific. 
  • Reward good behavior. Try to affirm good behavior four to five times for every one criticism of bad behavior. 
  • Use one-on-one feedback, and do not publicly reprimand. 
  • Help students correct their behaviors. Help them understand violating the rules results in consequences. 

Bullying can still happen, even when the above guidelines are followed. StopBullying.Gov also created the following dos and don'ts to consider when a bullying situation occurs in the classroom. 

Do: 

1. Intervene immediately. It is OK to get anther adult to help. 

2. Separate the kids involved. (Do not become physically involved, but try to verbally get students to separate)

3. Make sure everyone is safe. 

4. Meet any immediate medical or mental health needs. 

5. Stay calm. Reassure the kids involved, including bystanders. 

6. Model respectful behavior when you intervene. 

Don't: 

1. Don't ignore it. Don't think kids can work it out without adult help. 

2. Don't immediately try to sort out the facts. 

3. Don't force other kids to say publicly what they saw. 

4. Don't question the children involved in front of other kids. 

5. Don't talk to the kids involved together, only separately. 

6. Don't make the kids involved apologize or patch up relations on the spot. 

For more information on bullying and for more helpful resources, visit www.stopbullying.gov