Bullying Hurts: Using book studies to promote anti-bullying teaching practices
Working to eradicate bullying in our schools is critical for all learners, yet most teachers begin their careers ill-prepared to engage in effective anti-bullying practices. Often educators hold the belief that anti-bullying education is for the benefit of minority students, and is either irrelevant or unnecessary if the students being served are homogenous and members of the dominant group. However, discrimination affects all children. When children build a false sense of self based on race they can be ill-prepared to function productively in a diverse world. Working toward social justice is an endeavor that benefits all because it places the needs of all on an even plane, working to create equity (Derman-Sparks & Ramsey, 2006).
In response to this challenge, faculty from the University of Wyoming partnered with teacher leaders in Albany County School District to engage teachers from a rural school district in a book study aimed at developing strategies for anti-bullying classroom practices. Practitioners engaged in this essential work, using the book “Bullying Hurts: Teaching Kindness Through Read Alouds and Guided Conversations” to explore proactive ways to address bullying through the development of community and empathy.
Over the course of four months, fourteen classroom teachers, counselors, and community members met to discuss the strategies presented in the book, to reflect on the implementation of these strategies and to develop new practices based on the readings. Each meeting was facilitated by classroom teachers, district support staff, and University faculty. The facilitation of the meetings focused on providing participants with an opportunity to be self-reflective: assessing current practices, confronting beliefs, and collaborating to identify ways to improve anti-bullying instruction using the text as a guide.
The book study empowered teachers to take action against bullying. Through the activities and readings outlined in this book participating teachers were armed with an arsenal of teaching ideas intended to promote teaching that cultivates kindness, civility, and ultimately compassion for others. The facilitators worked in each session to provide insight into the systematic issues of bullying, while providing avenues for taking action against bullying. The participating teachers developed strategies for guiding productive and focused discussions with students aimed at building strong classroom communities. This book study not only promoted this understanding, but called the participants to take action in their classrooms, armed with a repertoire of strategies and activities for doing so.
Kniss, Kathleen, "Bullying Hurts: Using book studies to promote anti-bullying teaching practices" (2013). Social Justice Research Center Grant Awards. Paper 29.