How do you handle bullying when it happens in your classroom?

October is National Bullying Awareness month, which can be especially meaningful for students with exceptionalities or those who have experienced bullying.

Often, students with exceptionalities are bullied for the very thing that makes them unique: their exceptionality. It can be hard to support these students in reporting and coping with being bullied.

I was recently reading a new book by Dr. A Lisbon, “Unmasking the Trauma,” which is a collection of short essays regarding parents and their student’s experiences with bullying. One common theme was the importance of school to home communication.

As teachers, we often try to protect our students from harm similarly to that of a parent. We can get preoccupied with solving the problem for the student rather than allowing the student and their parents to learn and develop the appropriate social skills to overcome being bullied. By working with parents, we offer our students the ability to learn strategies at school such as telling a trusted adult, or how to appropriately respond to bullying, then go home and practice those skills. It is also important that parents know so that they can monitor their student and act when needed. Another way to overcome bullying is to teach all students regardless of ability about the harm that bullying causes to the victim, other students, and the bully themselves.

In the past, my class and I have had discussions about how it feels to be bullied through role playing. During the role-play, we teach students appropriate social skills to respond to bullying along with how, when, and what to tell a teacher. Giving a clear definition of bullying and the consequences of it is also very important.

How are some ways that you address bullying in your school? Tweet us at @CECmembership

Richard Williams is a special education teacher, who teaches students with emotional/behavioral disorders. Williams has worked in general education schools in self-contained EBD classrooms and two special education centers for students with severe EBD. He has a master’s in special education from Clark Atlanta University and is currently working towards a doctorate in special education from The George Washington University with a focus on students with EBD and transition plans and preparations for post-secondary life. In additions to his studies, he is working on two projects, one on the neurological and continuities ability for adolescents to effectively participate in their transition plans, and the quality of life outcomes for students with EBD in post-secondary school. An active CEC member, Williams has been a Reality 101 blogger as well as a member of the Yes I Can and Diversity Committees. Outside of the classroom, he is a plant-based lifestyle and animal rights advocate and runs a blog of book reviews and current events. In his spare time, he loves to read and go on hikes with his dog.

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