Please help with an awesome student that is getting bullied

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by crunchytxmama, Mar 25, 2011.

  1. crunchytxmama

    crunchytxmama Companion

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    Mar 25, 2011

    I want to preface this with explaining my awkward teaching assignment. I teach part-time 2nd grade, so I'm with these kids half the day. Very small, inner-city, Catholic school. Most of the kids know each other, and many are related. My class is mostly boys. There is one class per grade. We do not have a counselor.

    The ringleader is a student who was held back, he has ODD/ADHD/LD and is definitely my lowest, though, most popular student. His younger brother is in my class,and is part of the bullying problem, and a cousin is also in the class, but not a bully. The student being bullied is my brightest student, but not related to anyone. He is very sensitive, but extremely bright. I think bully student is threatened by how well this student does academically. He's not a socially awkward student, so I don't think that is why he's being bullied. At the first of the year they were friends, but now, basically the bullied student does everything he can to stay in the bully's good graces. The older student is the "leader" in everything. They all defer to him on the playground, in the morning before school, etc. He decides who gets to play and who doesn't, and much of the problem is happening on the playground or during free time. The bullying isn't to the point where it is physical. It's mostly name-calling, laughing at him, or excluding him. This student is SUCH an asset to a tough, tough group. He's really sensitive and sweet, and was SO enthusiastic about school at the beginning of the year. Now his mom says he comes home everyday crying, saying he doesn't have friends :( . He was my highest reader, and now he's starting to slip. His attitude is really changing...he is becoming angry and you can see him trying to impress the bully group by acting out. He desperately wants to be their friends and they know that. We've encouraged him to become friends with some other students, but he just really wants to be friends with the bully and his brother.

    Mom and I conferenced today and she is really wanting us to tell her what we are going to do. I've told her we will really watch him before school when some of this is happening. I journal with the students, and have written to him about this in the journal, but he doesn't respond. I address any issues as they happen in class. What else can I do? How can I change this dynamic in my classroom? I do not want the parent to take this student out of my class, and out of our school! Help!
     
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  3. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Mar 25, 2011

    What kind of supervision is there on the playground..?
     
  4. crunchytxmama

    crunchytxmama Companion

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    Mar 25, 2011

    The students go back to first grade for the second half of the day, where they have specials, recess, and Science/SS. So the first grade teacher has 22 students for the 1st/2nd combo. She is with them during recess. The kids will often organize a game of tag, soccer, or baseball, and always defer to the older child for who will be "it", or who will bat first, or who gets to be on what team. I suggested to her today, that she could assign a daily "leader" on the playground, but she didn't like that idea. She felt like they would use that to be manipulative with each other, i.e. "pick me, pick me! I'll let you do "x" tomorrow!"
     
  5. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Mar 25, 2011

    So it sounds like the bossiness and bullying are ingrained in your system.
     
  6. crunchytxmama

    crunchytxmama Companion

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    Mar 25, 2011

    I'm not sure what you mean.
     
  7. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Mar 25, 2011

    It's being allowed. Those who supervise aren't willing to examine how the current conditions are supporting the bully network.
     
  8. crunchytxmama

    crunchytxmama Companion

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    Mar 25, 2011

    She is willing to. She is a good teacher....today was the first day we had the opportunity to discuss it together. That was the only suggestion I offered.
     
  9. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Mar 25, 2011

    So what is plan B?
     
  10. crunchytxmama

    crunchytxmama Companion

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    Mar 25, 2011

    I came here hoping to find plan B. :) This really just came to a head this afternoon. Do you have any suggestions?
     
  11. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Mar 25, 2011

    Can you do playground duty and facilitate some cooperative games?
     
  12. sewlo

    sewlo Rookie

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    Mar 25, 2011

    Are there any students who aren't so interested in what the bully has to say? Ones you could approach about being a leader and watching out for the boy who is being picked on? Not to pressure them to hang out with him, but to keep an eye out and stand up for him when things turn badly and a teacher isn't around.

    Instead of having kids pick leaders, why can't you draw names out of a hat? Then each student could get a chance, but there's no manipulation of who is the leader.

    You could also slowly start introducing the concept of bullying and that there are people who are different sometimes, but that doesn't mean they are bad. Maybe read Sarah Week's first Oggie Cooder book (a short read aloud every day) and talk about what each student is good at. This can help those students begin recognizing that everyone is different and offers something valuable. Note that this book is a chapter book and the protagonist is a fourth grader, but your students are getting closer to 3rd grade age, so if you read it and think it's appropriate, it can be totally relevant to them.

    Hope those help in some way!
     
  13. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Mar 25, 2011

    The bully is already using his status to be manipulate the other kids and garner favors from them. Even the victim is trying to gain the bully's favor.

    The only way to combat this IS for the teachers to step in and remove some of the bully's status. Choosing daily "leaders" is one way to do that. Once the daily decision is removed from the bully's hands, the other kids may start to realize it doesn't matter if the bully "likes them" or not.

    The other action is to talk with the victim, explain how valuable he is to your class and point out all the things he does so well that make him such a valuable part of the class. Build up his self-esteem based on what he already does well, then try to explain that he does not need the bully's approval to be considered a valuable person. It may not be the recommended approach, but I would also explain the bully is jealous of what the victim can do, which is one reason he excludes him from other activities as a way to "get back".

    Ultimately, the victim has to realize on his own that he doesn't need the approval of the bully. Once he does that, he removes the "power" the bully has. In the meantime, the teachers can step in to also remove some of that power so the bully realizes the school does NOT revolve around him after all.
     
  14. EMonkey

    EMonkey Connoisseur

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    Mar 25, 2011

    I would try using the Marvin Marshall Discipline without Stress, Punishment, or Reward. The basic idea is create a rubric or ranking of actions in the class with lack of safety or chaotic behavior as the lowest, then bullying or/and bothering, then cooperation, and then discipline or self control (Marvin Marshall uses some different words). This is effective in placing the fact that the behavior being used is bullying. It also puts your not so nice kid in the position of defining his actions to himself and other children. As the teacher you have children define different actions and where they fall in the rankings. You also have children define and take ownership their own actions.

    I think if the not so nice kid is really doing bullying to a lot of kids I would be inclined to sit Not so Nice down and explain that I am so sad about this; but since he is having such a hard time keeping others safe at recess he thus can sit out recess. I also would lay out a plan for him to show me how he is working towards assisting others to feel safe. I also would have him work on figuring out how to be safer.

    I also would try and empower the other students to stand up for the children who are being picked on.

    I might make a place for displaying support for others-a giving tree maybe, or another area where you can hang notes of thoughtfulness. I would be working on the idea of we do not laugh at others as a big deal. I would be working on making a big deal of thanking and pointing out any assistance other children are giving.

    In a class or school where one child is obviously being bullied there are other children who are being bullied and it is not seen or noticed. Those kids who just do not like being forced to be unkind to others are being bullied. Empower them to fight back. Teach them words to say. Let them know it is good to step in and speak up for each other.
     
  15. TeacherApr

    TeacherApr Groupie

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    Mar 26, 2011

    He could always body slam him to the concrete like on that youtube video.....
     
  16. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Mar 26, 2011

    Hi crunchytxmama - so, there are already some good ideas here. If you'd be interested, I have a few ideas and questions if you feel you might want some more input. Some of the ideas above I really enjoyed reading - especially Cerek's comment about the bully's power being lost once the victim realizes he doesn't need it.

    First, I do agree with czacza in the area of supervision - definitely an important thing with bullying. Sounds like you're addressing that in the classroom (you're addressing issues as they arise), but aren't able to be in all all areas. Even if you won't be able to be on the playground or with the 1st grade class in the afternoon, it will be huge to have everyone on board.

    Alright, so in terms of intervention, there likely are going to be a few main "points of entry" with addressing the situation:

    1. The bully. There will be specific things you can do with him, from creating other opportunities of power, creating a specific reinforcement/punishment plan that makes it much less fun for him to bully, identifying "areas of opportunity" he has to bully now, and reducing those, possibly doing some moral reasoning training or social perspective taking activities, etc.

    2. The victim. There are likely different ways the victim can respond to reduce the likelihood of future bullying, such as different ways of standing up to the bully. In addition, creating effective channels of communication between him and you will be important - he doesn't necessarily have to divulge his deepest emotional concerns to you, but starting with some basic reporting of incidents will be huge, and going from there. You mentioned he is sensitive - there may be ways to behave a bit differently in class to not expose that side of him as much, although it's a shame to say he may be expected to show less sensitivity in some ways.

    3. The other kids. The other reactions of the other kids are what likely gives the bully his power. He climbs the social/status/power ladder and scores points in this area by taking the victim down a notch. The victim - as you mentioned - likely takes some power because of his success, which the bully identifies as a source of more power for him. Adding class punishments, for example, when they positively respond to bullying activities can reduce their likelihood of supporting the bullying in the future. There are also some clever ways of turning the class against the bully through class discussion.

    4. Your class as a whole. This includes the bully, victim, and other kids. In addition to just individual strategies you may use with separate kids, there may be some things you can do as a class to build community, sensitize the class to bullying, increase communication & reporting, etc.

    Overall, there will probably be a few global goals here:

    A. Improve the classroom community so that there is more concern for each other, and bullying becomes less acceptable to the "class conscious."

    B. Use rewards/punishments with the bully and class as a whole to make it much more difficult/aversive to bully.

    C. Build resiliency skills in the victim so that he is able to respond more effectively to incidents of bullying.

    D. Sensitize the bully to his behavior by improving his moral reasoning and social perspective taking.

    E. Change the power dynamics in the classroom so that the bully's behavior does not lead to an increase in power/status.

    F. Build more supervision (as czacza mentioned) in core areas so that bullying is always observed and dealt with immediately, and hopefully prevented at least in part.

    ______

    So, a few questions for you:

    1. What are you your thoughts on the above? What ideas come to your mind as you react to the different possible intervention routes above? Are there things you have tried in those areas? Have any of those been successful?

    2. Could you describe your teaching style and general personality as a teacher? I ask because some strategies work well with some kinds of teachers.

    3. Could you describe the bully a bit more - his general personality, what behaviors he engaged in related to bullying, etc.? E.g., is the bullying usually directly aggressive, or more "making

    4. When/where/how does the bullying occur? Does it typically start during a certain subject, during transitions, during bathroom break? Is it public, around a small group of kids, or private? Is it in front of you, or behind your back?

    5. When you address the bullying behavior, what do you typically do?

    6. Can you describe a bit about how the relationship between the bully and victim fell apart? When (which month)? Was it gradual, or after one particular incident? What did they have in common before, and were they good friends or just acquaintances?

    If you feel like you've already got a good handle on next steps, no pressure to respond, but if you'd find it helpful, let us know...
     
  17. crunchytxmama

    crunchytxmama Companion

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    Mar 26, 2011

    Thank you for the thoughtful responses. I am still processing some of them :) I am a first year teacher, so this is really my first time dealing with this.

    In response to Ed's questions:
    1. I have tried talking to the student about these issues. I've told him that I think he is very special and that he could be a great leader. Earlier in the year I nominated him as our class's "good citizen", and he was awarded in front of the school. He was also the student who went to the reading bee for our class. I've talked to him about not needing to follow the not-nice student. So far, I don't feel like my building him up is making a difference. He doesn't seem to care too much anymore about my acceptance, he just wants the bully's acceptance. I have not tried to do anything at recess, because by then I have left for the day or I am staying to tutor certain students.

    One thing that is frustrating for me is that I am considered their "main" teacher, but I am only with them from 8:45-11:45 everyday. During that time, I have SO much content to teach, that there is very little time to devote to dealing with social issues. I am probably looping with these kids next year, and they will be with me full-time, so I am taking many of these ideas with the hope of implementing them next year. I want to be able to have a morning meeting with the students to work through social issues.

    2. I am a new teacher, so still finding my style. I would say that I expect a lot from my kids. I don't think they will learn to be responsible unless they are held accountable, so I don't let a lot of things slide. I'm pretty matter of fact about handing out a consequence and moving on. I only teach them two subjects-math and reading/LA, so my teaching style is somewhat limited to our pretty strict curriculum (we have Saxon Math). I teach religion to another class and I do a lot more cooperative learning with that group, because it's just a more flexible subject.

    I'll have to add more later....I'm headed out with my son :)
     
  18. TAKlinda

    TAKlinda Rookie

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    Apr 9, 2011

    As a high school teacher, I dealt with bullying by privately asking the ones I knew were doing the bullying to protect that student. Not only did this favor they were doing for me stop their bullying, it stopped all others from bullying the unfortunate student.
     
  19. m1trLG2

    m1trLG2 Companion

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    Apr 17, 2011

    This may not be a popular thing to say and has at times been misinterpreted so I just want to preface with that.

    This is my belief after working for years with behavioral kids in treatment centers as well as seeing kids in general and I am kind of coming to the realization that we are focusing too much on bullies and not enough on dealing with bullies.

    Bullies are always there. The chances of changing a person's behavior is very slim.

    Here is how I have handled and still do and in my personal experience have had a lot of success with it. I redirect the bully in private and not in front of the class or in a group. The ultimate goal of a bully is to gain "allies" and attention. Instead I focus on the child or children being affected by the bully. I work on coping skills as well as direct instruction of prosocial behavior (aka behavior that is accepted in society and behavior that is not).

    So an example. I have a kid making fun of another kid on the playground for not being able to run as fast as the other kids (random example). Other kids start to join in. I intervene by first saying something like, "wow, 'billy' (the bully) is really making bad choices today... i hope you guys can do better than him with decision making. I don't really understand why he's laughing... hmmm." Kids still are going to want to please the teacher, if you don't give it much attention other than to dismiss it as something silly(bad silly) to be doing then they most often won't either.

    However, if there is a large group of kids doing this and the first intervention doesn't work you could perhaps say something like, "Well since all of you can run really fast it must be easy... I want to know who can go the slowest from one end of the play ground to the other. Ready?" then have a slowest race. Or some other activity that turns the child being bullied into someone who can succeed. Later I would pull the bully aside and ask him why he felt the need to make fun of someone and ask him how he would feel if someone laughed at him for things he's not good at.

    For name calling and rumor spreading etc, I always do this and to my knowledge it seems to work.

    "Billy called me dumb!" - Student

    "Hmm, well are you dumb?" - Me with a very quizzical look.

    "No." - student with bright eyes.

    "Good because I don't think you're dumb either. I think Billy doesn't really know what he's talking about does he?" - Me

    "No" - student with a smile starting

    "Well if he's just making stuff up and doesn't know what he's talking about then we can't really worry about anything he's saying can we?" - me

    "haha no." - student

    "Good. I'm glad we figured that out! Sometimes people just say silly things and when they aren't true we should just remember they are being silly and we know better than them." - me

    "yea!" - student

    Again though, I will pull the bully aside in private and discuss. If this is a chronic bully like you have in your situation I would make a point to meet with him at the end of everyday and discuss his decisions. This makes his bullying less important because you aren't going to assist him in gaining the attention he craves. If you give your attention to the child being bullied instead of him he will hate it, plus you are teaching the other child valuable coping skills instead of putting all your focus on a behavior that is a lot harder to change if at all.

    Your bully is the "alpha dog" ... the best way to get this to stop is to take his power away. If his previously "cool" actions become "silly" and "babyish" in the eyes of his classmates he will stop doing it. I would also challenge him to say things to you. If he makes fun of a kid for reading or some other academic venture say, "I do that too... do you think I'm stupid too?" Make him stand behind what he's saying. If he does call you stupid, challenge him to teach the class... he will either say no and hang his head in shame or get up and embarrass himself in front of his classmates.

    Sorry this post is so long... I guess essentially my 'stance' is give the problem child enough rope to hang themselves with while building up the kids getting bullied and teaching them coping skills. I have a smart kid that gets bullied and it's because he can read and the bully can't. Remember that these kids are smart, and not just academically. I simply tell that student... "Wouldn't you be kind of jealous and angry if you couldn't read? Aren't you glad your a bigger person than him and know how to handle it though? He is probably just a little embarrassed but can't handle things as well as you."

    I don't know if any of this is useful or if it's just too long.

    I just think we need to focus on the bullied and how to deal with mean people. The mean kids (a lot of them, not all of them) aren't going to be 'punished' out of bullying anytime soon. But we can teach kids how to deal with mean people and this is a great life lesson. Teach kids to be sure in their abilities.

    "he said i'm ugly!"

    "Oh my, I hadn't noticed... are you ugly?"

    "No!!!"

    "Good! I didn't think so, I guess we don't have to worry about what Billy said then because he obviously has no idea what he's talking about right?!"

    "Yea!"
     
  20. justjules91

    justjules91 Rookie

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    Apr 18, 2011

    Good idea.


    These kinds of topics are what scare me about becoming a teacher...


    Julie
     

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