Bullying in the classroom can have grave consequences for students, especially as they build effective social and emotional skills amid the disruption caused by the pandemic. While administrators must take responsibility for creating a school environment that is safe and welcoming, educators can promote a strong classroom culture through responsive and warm interactions with students. Harvard Graduate School of Education lecturer Gretchen Brion-Meisels says that students should also be invited into the work of building a positive school culture.
“Too often, we forget the powerful insights that young people bring to our conversations about school culture and climate,” Brion-Meisels says. “While it is critical that adults take responsibility for creating the structures and routines that nurture safe and inclusive school communities, our students are powerful allies in this process. We need to invite students to help us imagine what safe and supportive schools can and should be; create processes for including students in decision-making around school climate; and invite students to join us in identifying and responding to harmful behavior when they occur.”
Nurturing a culture that stands against bullying looks different for every level of development, she says. For example, interventions at the elementary level may teach conflict resolution and celebrating others’ differences through play. For older students, activities could include looking inward and supporting students with identifying their own cultural identity as they begin to appreciate others.