Over the past three years, at our annual Federal Partners in Bullying Prevention Summits, we have heard the same call by educators-– teachers want to help stop bullying, but they don’t know how. Most try to help, but few receive training on how to do so. There are bullying prevention trainings available for teachers, but many are very expensive or not based on the best available research.
That is why the Department of Education and its Safe and Supportive Technical Assistance Center, set out to create a free, state-of-the-art training for classroom teachers on bullying. The two-part training aims to help teachers know the best practices to stop bullying on the spot and how to stop it before it starts. The training toolkit consists of PowerPoints, trainer guides, handouts, and feedback forms that school districts, schools, and teachers can use free of charge. Both the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers gave feedback on the modules and made suggestions on what teachers would find most useful.
The research-based training gives teachers practical steps to take to respond to bullying. These skills include how to deescalate a situation, find out what happened, and support all of the students involved. The training also shows the importance of building strong relationships in the classroom, as well as creating an environment respectful of diversity, in order to prevent bullying.
The classroom teacher toolkit is based in part on a toolkit specific to bus drivers, released in June 2011. Many states and school districts have used that toolkit; it has been used to train over 100,000 of the nation’s estimated 550,000 school bus drivers in the past year. Trainees have reported feeling better equipped to address bullying on their school buses following the training.
We hope that the districts, schools, and teachers will use this toolkit as a resource. When more people know how to stop bullying, the more likely we will be to ensure that all students are able to learn in a safe and supportive school.
Deborah Temkin is a Research and Policy Coordinator for Bullying Prevention Initiatives at the Department of Education