Bullying: What Will It Take?

Whether it is a young child being bullied out of his milk money or a grown woman being taunted by tweens, the topic of bullying has become a prevalent discussion in today's classrooms.

Traditional theorists have drawn links between stimulus and response through behaviorism and cognitive theory as demonstrated in early studies of beliefs about behavior. A third view that has surfaced is referred to as Perceptual Control Theory (PCT). This work began with William Powers book behavior, the Control of Perception. with continued research by Dan Olweus.

Regardless of what theory you buy into, the teacher is the ultimate facilitator in determining how bullying will be handled in her classroom. To think that any program is going to fix bullying in your classroom or school is idealistic. Can anyone eliminate bullying fully?

We can open up a dialogue between teachers and students to address what seems to be an inevitable occurrence in the lives of children. 

In the book "Setting the Tone" by Carpenter, Ray, and Smith, the practice of self evaluation versus evaluating or labeling others is key in gaining an understanding of behavior.

When the school year begins, classrooms are defining themselves and typically building their own unique reputation.

Students must engage in a facilitated discussion simply to be able to define behavior. Here are some sample questions to help the teacher begin that conversation:

  • What is behavior?
  • Why do some people behave?
  • Why do some people not behave?
  • How is behavior connected to learning?

(Display answers in the classroom and point back to them when appropriate.)

Then move on to a second discussion connecting behavior more deeply to learning, ask:

  • (Repeat) How is behavior connected to learning?
  • Why is learning important to you?
  • What is desired behavior for an optimal learning experience?
  • List your behaviors that interfere with your learning?
  • List others behaviors that interfere with your learning
  • Why is interference to learning unacceptable?

(Again, display answers and point back to them as indicated.)