I was recently asked the question, “What was the best way you have have ever seen a teacher eradicate bullying in their class?”
I don’t mean to suggest that this hasn’t been done, or that teachers aren’t very good at it, but I personally have never seen a teacher successfully stomp out bullying, belittling or any other kind of degradation in their classroom. Nor have I ever expected them to do so; it’s almost a no-win situation for a teacher, one where singling out a child (for any reason) could lead to career consequences.
Personally, I think it’s a terribly unfair question. I love teachers, and I place them in my own hierarchy of “greatest people on Earth” snuggled right in between “nurses” and “nuns”. But like these other two, teachers are human. I believe that this question implies superhuman abilities, and frankly unrealistic ones.
Teachers get about 6 quality hours a day, five days a week for 9 months to educate their students. If the teachers are grade school educators then they are responsible for an assortment of math, language, science, social studies and then any other specialty coursework (writing, art, music, gym, etc.). If they are a teacher in a higher grade then they are specializing in a specific course and are limited to the time with each student in each class for about 45 minutes.
Teachers have to cram all of this into an academic day, all the while competing with the students not paying attention, talking in class, one-on-one help with the assignments, unscheduled interruptions and any other thousand or so issues that may come up in an ordinary school day. Now we expect them to teach the kids to stop picking on each other too? No, our society asks enough of our educators already.
But there is something that they can do that easily fixes the issue, if they were given the support of their school administration. Teachers could be given the authority to reach out to the students parents and tell them directly that their child is a bully and creates a harmful environment to other students. It could further be documented that victims families are notified that the aggressors families have been duly warned. All with the support of the school senior staff.
Issue solved. What a concept…. place the onus of raising responsible adults back on the parents, and not empowering children to believe that they are untouchable…. Oh, and teachers can go about doing what they do best: Teach.
Jason Wells is the President and Founder of the National Advancements for Proactive Safety, an educational non-profit organization committed to providing a safe community through intervention processes, as well as a board member of the National Senior Citizens Committee. He is a former Special Agent with the United States Secret Service, and holds a Masters of Science with highest honors in Strategic Security and Protection Management he is a weekly contributing writer to the online publication Robious Corridor and has been featured in the Huffington Post, Fatherly.com, Slate and most recently in Forbes.