What do you do for those students that are struggling with bullying, teasing, or just not liking school?
I learned quickly that students needed to be heard, understood, and then relationships are automatically built. That part was easy, but how to help them? That is question. How could I help them to be empowered to deal with some of these situations on their own without running to me or their teacher?
I began to practice the skill of dealing with their peers. This is a skill you need to learn.
I would and still now, be that difficult peer, they could practice with me, in a private situation, sometimes even cussing at me. All was good as it made it more real to them. My kids have always and I think always will trust me.
I have been doing this in elementary school as well, but with a slightly different approach. It is pretty simple, here is my basic approach.
- I ask them what bothers them the most?
- They tell me.
- I ask them if it is okay if I use that against them in my office.
- They usually say "yes"
- I ask them if I can record or show their reaction by imitating them? And tell them I will show them and them only, then I will erase it forever.
- They usually agree.
- I then say that horrible thing to them.
- They react, usually not totally authentic, but I might push a little, again the trust is already built.
- I show them their reaction.
- I flip it, tell them to record me, then they say to me the same thing.
- We watch my reaction, as I have a bunch of reactions I model for them.
- We then practice over and over again. I then send them back to class, telling them, it will not fix anything immediately, but over time it will work.
- I then check in with them in the weeks to come to see how it is going. This usually looks like grabbing them quick, or stopping by their class to whisper a "how is it working?" in their ear.
- They either acknowledge it is working or not, if not we go back to practice.
I think it is that simple. Empower them with some tools, then support by checking in. They know I got their back, empower them to be their own advocate.
There is obviously a little more than the 14 steps I listed, but I wanted to put this out as a starting point for others to get past just the listening and reacting, to practice and modeling for students.