ARTICLE

Toolkit for "Statistically Speaking"

Is teacher bullying an issue at your school? This toolkit offers practical suggestions for how to identify the problem and what to do about it.

This toolkit can help educators recognize bullying behavior in themselves and in their colleagues, and offers suggestions for how to intervene on behalf of students.

Essential Questions

  • Who can display bullying behavior and who can be the target of that behavior?
  • What actions characterize bullying behavior?
  • How can a school community work together to combat bullying behavior by teachers?

 

Procedure

After reading the article “Statistically Speaking,” use these questions to guide personal reflection or group discussion.

Part I

These questions are designed as a practical exercise to promote intentional dialogue among school staff about bullying behavior toward students.

  1. Whose responsibility is it to approach a colleague with concerns about his/her troublesome conduct toward students? Why?
  2. What is the best way to approach a colleague who appears to bully students? How should we not approach that colleague?
  3. How would you respond to student or parent disclosures about a teacher/coach who is alleged to bully students?
  4. How would staff relations be affected by reporting to a supervisor that a colleague is persistently mean toward students? How would staff relations be affected by remaining silent?
  5. What is an appropriate consequence for a teacher/coach who behaves in mean-spirited ways toward students?
  6. What should be done when a principal (or other administrator) does not respond to credible allegations of a colleague’s bullying behavior toward students?

If you find yourself struggling to answer these questions, or feeling as if you don’t have resources or support you need, use this bullying resource list to look for potential answers, experts, allies or help.
 

Part II

The following prompts can be used to guide personal reflection and writing about teacher bullying.

  1. Describe a time a student made you really angry, upset or frustrated. How did you respond in this situation? Were you tempted to respond differently?
  2. Describe a time you behaved toward a student in a way you do not feel proud of. What was motivating you? If you could, how would you handle the same situation differently?
  3. Describe a time you saw a colleague bully a student or act in a way that approached bullying. How did you respond in this situation? Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
  4. What are some ways you can stop yourself and colleagues from engaging in bullying behavior? Try to be as honest as you can in terms of what you think is feasible but still productive.

 

Part III

Alan McEvoy and Molly Smith's research revealed that educators working in schools that explicitly discussed or offered training on teacher conduct were less likely to witness teacher bullying than teachers in schools that did not. Equipped with this knowledge, consider building a task force to address teacher conduct at your school.

  1. Approaching staff members who are known for being fair, objective, rational, solution-oriented and good at listening. Explain why you have invited them to participate in a task force and that a positive school climate and student well-being are the ultimate goals. Be sure to approach administrators first if it is safe to do so.
  2. As a group, go through the questions in Part I.
  3. As a group, read the article “Statistically Speaking” and discuss the research reported. Consider surveying your own school or creating a list of bullying behaviors that members of the task force may have observed at your school or other schools where they've worked.
  4. Ask members of the task force to research teacher conduct policies at other schools and bring back examples. Jig-saw the examples and identify elements of the different policies that your group finds practical and applicable in your school setting.
  5. Based on your research, draft a teacher conduct policy that is specific to your school. Focus on the benefits of promoting and supporting pro-social behavior among teachers. Outline specific consequences for engaging in bullying behavior.
  6. Call a meeting, and present the policy to your building administration and to the larger district administration.

This toolkit was adapted from activities originally created to accompany the Teaching Tolerance stories "Abuse of Power" and "Under Attack."