Post antibullying signs
In order to set the tone for a diverse and accepting school culture, you might consider posting diversity or bullying prevention signs around campus. This will remind students, parents, visitors and administration that bullying is not tolerated. You can order signage online for relatively cheap, or to encourage buy-in, you might even hold a school-wide contest where students submit their own custom designs and messages.
Invite diverse guest speakers
Most state standards require that students study ancient culture and civilization. Books are useful learning tools, but they have limitations, especially if we want to make content come alive for our students. Here’s an idea: Say that you are studying Eastern civilizations. Why not invite a Buddhist monk from a local temple to give a presentation on Buddhism? You could apply this to any culture or religion, really. Guest speakers not only give tangible life to the material students have been studying in their textbooks, they also bolster the fact that your school is open and accepting of all cultures.
Partner with a local college or university
Most university counseling programs require students to take a practicum, usually a semester-long supervised “course” where students put everything they’ve learned from the program into practice. Odds are that you already have a counselor on staff (at least part time), but why not take advantage of the extra help from university interns? Not only will they be earning credit hours towards graduation—which means that you won’t have to dip into your budget—they’ll also be lightening your current counselor’s work load.
With the extra help on hand, you’ll have the resources you need to conduct team meetings with parents, students and teachers; you’ll also have more resources to help monitor lunch. Intern counselors can also organize bullying prevention activities: Say, for example, that one student has misbehaved or bullied another student. The offending student could have lunch with one of the interning counselors to discuss what happened and what the student could have done differently. In addition to this, the student and counselor could collaborate to come up with an appropriate way to remedy the behavior: writing the other student a letter, for example, or drawing him or her a picture.
Start Lunch Clubs
Another way to encourage diversity and positive friendships is to break students out of their routine and get them interacting with students outside of their inner circle. Try putting together a few different supervised activities during lunch: Mondays could be devoted to a movie in one room and karaoke in the other. Tuesdays could be devoted to dance in one room and music-making (with various instruments) in the other, etc. These activities could be facilitated by volunteer teachers or interning counselors.
Collaborate with Parents
Having the support of parents is essential to creating a positive school culture. In addition to encouraging parents to form bullying prevention committees, what if you were to conduct home visits like Larry Ferlazzo has done at his Sacremento, California high school? If that sounds unrealistic, consider the fact that Ferlazzo’s school, Luther Burbank, has over 2,000 students. In spite of this, he and his staff continue to make hundreds of visits to the homes of incoming freshman (as well as older students) who have not successfully passed the high school exit exam. Ferlazzo and his team focus on academic success, but there’s no reason that you couldn’t talk to parents about school culture, diversity and bullying at the same time.