Monday, October 31, 2011

Six Bullying Prevention Tips for Principals

Marge Meyers is the General Studies Principal of Milwaukee Jewish Day School in Wisconsin. When she and her colleagues began implementing the STEPS TO RESPECT program, she learned a lot about schoolwide bullying prevention. Here is what she had to say about her responsibilities as a principal.
1. Acknowledge the problem.
“First and foremost, the principal’s role in bullying prevention is to acknowledge that bullying exists,” says Meyers.

2. Address the problem.
“Then you have to commit to addressing it, and in our case, this meant meeting with our teachers, counseling staff, and school nurse to have an open and honest discussion about bullying behaviors in our school,” Meyers explains. “We started really trying to watch the interactions of students, especially during less structured times.”

3. Set the policy.
“A principal is in a unique position to set policy in a school,” says Meyers. “Research will tell you that any bullying prevention program has to be schoolwide in order to have an effect. But in order to do this right, time and dollars need to be allocated, and the principal is definitely in the position to be able to do that.”

4. Get teacher buy-in.
“Because bullying is a schoolwide issue, it means there has to be schoolwide leadership to address it, and every member of the staff needs to be part of the solution,” Meyers maintains. “I think it’s ultimately the leadership’s responsibility to see that all staff adhere to the policy and buy into a bullying prevention program.”

5. Get parent buy-in.
Meyers elaborates: “It’s important that I know what’s going on in the school and that I can, in absolute good faith and good conscience, tell parents, 'STEPS TO RESPECT' is an incredible program, and here’s why.’”

6. Get your hands dirty.
“I feel bullying is a very important issue to our children, and as a teacher, I felt very strongly about setting an example,” Meyers concludes. “As an administrator, I have that same sort of mindset. I don’t ask anyone to do anything that I myself don’t do. I took part in training, and I’ve made time in my schedule to teach it in the classroom. It’s that important.”

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