Yesterday we visited a Toronto Catholic School where the topic of bullying in elementary school is definitely taken seriously.
Georges Vanier Catholic School Principal, Ms. Silvana Reda, is obviously passionate about the topic of bullying as well as child safety. She has discovered many ways to help stop bullying in her elementary school as we were to learn during our visit.
Happy Students: If students feel happy and respected, bullying in elementary school is diminished. That is certainly a belief that I personally share. After presenting hundreds of anti-bullying programs, I have come to the conclusion that one way to reduce bullying in elementary school is to make sure students feel respected, appreciated and happy. There are a number of ways to do this, and I’ve talked about them some of my other blogs. However, students tell me that one of the things that make them feel happiest in school is simply having a sense of belonging. Children want to feel safe, they want to feel included, and they want to feel a sense of importance. Students want to feel empowered in their environment. When you think about it, the same thing is probably true for most of us as adults. Don’t we want to feel safe included an important in our workplace? Don’t those things help us to feel valuable and empowered? I believe the answer is an emphatic yes.
Happy Teachers: I believe the following statements to be true in many cases:
Happy teachers are productive teachers.
Happy teachers generate happiness in their students.
Happy teachers get along well with other staff members.
After meeting thousands of teachers and visiting hundreds of schools, I really believe that a powerful way to reduce bullying in elementary school is to make sure the teachers enjoy coming to their jobs. One person who can help make this happen is the school principal. She or he can create a working environment which puts teachers at ease while at the same time resulting in a productive and creative atmosphere.
Activities: There are many activities which can take place during the school day to remind students about the virtues of respect, kindness and consideration. These activities can certainly help to reduce incidents of bullying around the school. Principal, Silvana Reda gave us a tour of George Vanier School Catholic School pointing out many activities her students had done which were related to respect and bullying prevention.
Caring Tree – In the front hall area is a caring tree which reminds everyone in the school about acts of caring which take place at Georges Vanier.
Bulletin Board Display – Each class creates an anti-bullying poster monthly which is displayed on the board for all to see. A monthly anti-bullying theme keeps it interesting.
Posters – Throughout the school are anti-bullying posters featuring students from Georges Vanier. The messages and designs of the posters were created by students for students and have been reproduced on professionally looking hard board and then permanently mounted on the walls.
Murals – The library features a colourful mural around the room on the wall near the ceiling. This mural is very inspiring and makes the room come alive.
Announcements – Play song clips, read catchy slogans, or have a ‘respect’ word of the day.
Contests – Get everybody involved in contests by offering fun prizes or even giving the winning class celebrity status with the school mascot for a week. If your school mascot is the cougar for instance, have a stuffed cougar which spends time in various classrooms or locations in the school as part of the award system. You could run a poster contest, a write a catchy song contest, a slogan for a month contest or even a math or science contest. Your imagination is your only limit.
So the three key ways to help stop bullying in elementary school are:
1/ Ensure students feel respected, appreciated and happy.
2/ Help teachers be happy in their roles
3/ Bullying prevention and respect activities
Have fun getting everyone involved.
Bruce Langford offers bullying prevention school assemblies and keynote talks: