To truly prevent bullying we must have the courage to do the following:
Understand and use Twitter and Facebook Regularly: Cyber bullying is now the number one form of bullying kids face. In a short article like this I cannot explain how to fix it. However, I can ask you to become aware. Set up twitter and facebook accounts and understand how to use them. Once you understand, teach your students how to use them appropriately.
Be careful with honor roll and all other school awards: Smart kids already know they are smart. They do not need to be on a list for it. Low kids rarely get on the list and start resenting those who do. Honor roll serves little purpose in school other than to create a division among students. Some parents will complain at first. They will get over it.
Grade students compared to their own previous work: I remember my first day of 10th grade English in Mr. John’s class. I looked around and saw Tori Smith, Alex Rios, and Christina Mann. I knew there was no chance of getting an “A” in that class. I was not nearly the writer they were and my reading skills have always been low. I remember Mr. John holding up Christina’s paper saying, “This is an example of an ‘A’ in this class.” At first I hated Mr. John, but I am pretty sure he did not really care. So I started disliking Christina instead. It was easy for me to get others to dislike her, since hardly anyone wrote like her and I was good at getting others to follow me. After all, I reasoned, it was her fault I could not get an “A” in that class.
Eliminate class rankings: When ranking a student first, we have to rank one last. Enough said? I have seen top students actually decide not to take advanced placement classes because they fear losing the higher ranking. If you must rank do not tell students what they are ranked. Send home their ranking in a sealed envelope to parents after school is finished.
Reward everyone in honor of one: Start rewarding your entire class or school in honor of a student or a group of students. “Because I am so proud of Jennifer every single one of you gets an extra 10 minutes on the playground in honor of her.” See how this helps get kids to like each other instead of dislike each other?
Modify competitive games: Allow students to decide if they want to participate when competition is involved. I like competition when kids choose to compete. Do not force it on them. Be very aware of any situation that has the potential for students to look bad in front of each other.
Use groups, but grade individually: This way students work together on a project or presentation, but their grade is not contingent upon anyone else. If a group member is lazy or does not do his or her part there is no resentment from his peers. Resentment can lead to bullying.