The Challenge of Kindness
National Bullying Prevention month may have ended last week, but the work of stopping bullying in our classrooms and schools continues throughout the year. By committing to The Challenge of Kindness we can build safe, inclusive classrooms where kindness and learning flourish!
An adapted excerpt from the award-winning book, How to Bullyproof Your Classroom
We serve as powerful models for students—they will behave as they see us behave. When we speak kindly to students and colleagues, students will be much more likely to speak kindly to each other. When we work collaboratively and equitably with colleagues, students will notice us and will be more willing to work collaboratively and equitably with classmates.
How to Bullyproof Your Classroom describes many strategies that you can use to create a culture of kindness in the classroom. These strategies include creating classroom rules that children believe in, teaching and reinforcing kind behaviors, and responding quickly and non-punitively to mean behaviors. But we need to go further. To be effective in bullyproofing our classrooms, it’s essential that we model, day in and day out, the kind and respectful behavior we want the children to embrace.
This is not always easy to do. Respectful work with our colleagues means speaking kindly and respectfully to them even when we disagree with them. Respectful work with students means speaking kindly and respectfully to them even when we’re setting limits or responding to their mean behaviors. Respectful behaviors toward students’ parents means listening carefully and trying to see things from their point of view, even when we’re having a difficult conversation about a child’s behavior (even when we see things differently—or view a child’s behavior differently). We educators need to be the change we want to see in the world.
The problem of bullying is actually the challenge of kindness. Our media surrounds children with a culture of meanness—this is what they learn, over and over, about how to behave and be successful in the world. But you can change things. Using Responsive Classroom strategies, you can create a safe, kind, and joyful climate in your classroom and your school, and model kind and respectful behavior in all your social interactions. You can create a climate where children gain social recognition for their courage and their kindness, rather than their cruelty and misuse of power. Only a climate of courage and kindness can truly solve the problem of bullying.
Caltha Crowe is a Responsive Classroom consulting teacher with nearly forty years of experience teaching elementary school students and twenty years of experience mentoring new teachers. She is the author of three books: Sammy and His Behavior Problems, Solving Thorny Behavior Problems, and How to Bullyproof Your Classroom.
How to Bullyproof Your Classroom, offers a practical, proactive approach to bullying prevention. Learn how to create a positive classroom environment and how to respond to mean behavior before it escalates into bullying.