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Creating Safe and Productive Learning Environments for Students

Creating Safe and Productive Learning Environments for Students

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Creating Safe and Productive Learning Environments for Students

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  1. Creating Safe and Productive Learning Environments for Students CREC Teachers Academy August 2011 Dr. Joann Freiberg

  2. Introduction: How do I Know What I Know? • Brief background • Experience • Education • My “day” job at the Connecticut State Department of Education • Bureau of Accountability and Improvement • School Climate Improvement, Bullying and Character Education • Professional Development • “Bullying” Complaints © JAF 1999 - 2011

  3. The Role of Positive Climate on Optimal Learning: Safe and Productive Schools • Core reason: create climate that ensures every student is physically, emotionally and intellectually safe and has the optimal chance for high academic achievement • Align practices with brain-based research on creating learning environments that support student engagement and attainment • Students must be present to learn…it is a necessary prerequisite © JAF 1999 - 2011

  4. Absenteeism and Academic Success • Learning requires that students be in class • Absent because of sickness • Absent because of “vacations” • Absent because of being fearful • “Opt out” to visit the nurse or guidance • Learning requires that educators be present, available and use engaging and ethical teaching methods • Adult actions and reactions determine student outcomes © JAF 1999 - 2011

  5. Lessons Learned from My Own Bullying Case Load • Six years worth of data…trends are clear • Bullying knows no demographic boundaries • Bullying takes ALL forms without patterns • Bullying affects all grade levels • Very slight increase in the middle school years • Bullying overwhelmingly involves children with special needs (IEPs & 504 Plans) • Children who are “different” • The family perceptions about what is happening to the child is in a separate universe from what is objectively happening at school © JAF 1999 - 2011

  6. Known Risk Factors: Everyone Is Affected • Perpetrators of mean-spirited behaviors • More likely to experience failure and crime • Targeted Individuals • More likely to be socially isolated, depressed and absent from school • Those individuals who are “bystanders” • Experience guilt and trauma over feeling powerless to intervene and help © JAF 1999 - 2011

  7. If Only It Was This Easy! © JAF 1999 - 2011

  8. Ultimate Remedy for Bullying To Create and Maintain Positive School Climate…Environments that do not support any form of mean-spirited behaviors (physically, emotionally and intellectually) Healthy and happy “Climates of Respect” © JAF 1999 - 2011

  9. A Positive and Respectful School Climate is one that is physically, emotionally and intellectuallysafefor all school community members… which is the antithesis of a school that is “violent” © JAF 1999 - 2011

  10. Safety vs. Violence: A Continuum • Early manifestations by students and/or adults • Exclusion • Teasing • Name-calling • Ridicule • Sarcasm • Threatening and/or Real “bullying” behavior • Extreme physical violence • Homicide • Suicide © JAF 1999 - 2011

  11. Dangerous “Weapons” In School: Direct Negative Impact on Learning • Words! The silent and most devastating weapons used by school community members • Putdowns and slurs • Degrading language heard daily by 90% of school community • Girls/women • Gay/lesbian/bi-sexual/transgender individuals • Special education students • Racial groups • Religious groups © JAF 1999 - 2011

  12. National School Climate Standards: Finalized March 2010 “There is growing appreciation that school climate – the quality and character of school life1 – fosters children’s development, learning and achievement. School climate is based on the patterns of people’s experiences of school life; it reflects the norms, goals values, interpersonal relationships, teaching, learning and leadership practices, and organizational structures that comprise school life.” 1This definition of school climate was consensually developed by members of the National School Climate Council (2007). The terms “school climate”, “school culture” and “learning environment have been used in overlapping but sometimes quite different ways in the educational literature. Here, we use the terms interchangeably. © JAF 1999 - 2011

  13. “School climate is ‘much like the air we breathe’ – it tends to go unnoticed until something is seriously wrong.” H. Jerome Freiberg, 1998 © JAF 1999 - 2011

  14. School Culture • Culture as… • Descriptive of current situation • Mission or goal © JAF 1999 - 2011

  15. School Climate: It is All About the Quality of Relationships • Defined as: how well the people within the school treat each other • Physically • Emotionally • Intellectually • Actions [+/-] • Verbal and non-verbal exchanges [+/-] • Tone of voice [+/-] • Use/abuse of inherent power advantages [+/-] Adult Adult Adult Student Student Student Adult a a © JAF 1999 - 2011 child c C

  16. Levels of School Climate • Personal (one to one interactions) • Adult Adult • Adult Student • Student Student • Classroom (tends to have the most positive climate) • School (tends to have the least positive climate) • Community (tends not to have enough systemic focus) © JAF 1999 - 2011

  17. Why “School Climate” ? • Issues with nomenclature • “Character/Moral Education” • “Values Clarification” • “Citizenship” and “Religious Education” • Politically correct: everyone is supportive • No one questions the “content” of lessons • Not a separate subject - integrated into all subject matter • School Climate  Discipline Climate • Focus on Climate > Intervening with Bullying © JAF 1999 - 2011

  18. Adults Often Ignore “Bullying” Behavior • Adults in school do relatively little to stop bullying behavior at school • Adults overlook or wait to intervene when initial instances of mean behaviors or language occur • Adults in school who are physically present during acts of meanness • Uninvolved or ignored 71% of observed incidences • May be unintentional due to lack of knowledge about what to look for © JAF 1999 - 2011

  19. What is “Bullying”?: Abuses of Power • “Bullying” is a public activity needing a stage on which to perform…when the audience is not there, the show closes • Power imbalance, measured by effects it has on the vulnerable target • It’s about power and not about conflict • Conflict resolution and peer mediation are not appropriate as means of addressing bullying © JAF 1999 - 2011

  20. Solving “Bullying” by Passing State Anti-Bullying Laws Missouri’s Law only pertains to “Cyber-Bullying” © JAF 1999 - 2011

  21. Columbine As Crucible . . . First of the Bookend Research Since 1974, 65 American “rampage” school shootings have occurred: 1970s 3 shootings 1980s 5 shootings (1 per year from ’85 – ’89) 1992 3 shootings 1993 2 shootings 1994 3 shootings 1995 3 shootings 1996 4 shootings 1997 4 shootings 1998 4 shootings 1999 5 shootings (Columbine: April 20, 1999) © JAF 1999 - 2011

  22. …And Since 2000… • 2000 4 shootings • 2001 6 shootings • 2002 2 shootings • 2003 3 shootings • 2004 0 shootings • 2005 2 shootings • 2006 4 shootings • 2007 5 shootings • 2008 3 shootings • 2009 0 shootings • 20101 shooting • 2011 1 shooting © JAF 1999 - 2011

  23. The Reason for Legislation Honor the “Spirit” (intent) of the law, not merely the “Letter” of the law to create truly physically, emotionally and intellectually safe and positive learning environments for every single school community member, student and adult alike. © JAF 1999 - 2011

  24. Even the “experts” do not agree about what “Bullying” looks, feels and sounds like… © JAF 1999 - 2011

  25. “Bullying” is about Abuses of Power • One person’s “bullying” is another’s… • “Kids will be kids” • “They were only joking around” • “Oh, they’re really friends” • “It’s not bad enough yet” • They’re just roughhousing” • “That is just teasing” • And, so many more….. © JAF 1999 - 2011

  26. What Is “Bullying”: The Difficulty With Definition • No standard or consistent definition • 45 States…45 different definitions • Most involved acts of harassment or intimidation that continue with regularity for a certain period of time (usually six months or more) • At the core, “bullying” is about power abuses • Wideness or narrowness determines how many children involved: 5% - 30% © JAF 1999 - 2011

  27. Sample Definitions • “Intentionally harmful behavior that occurs repeated over time.” (JAMA 2001 research study) • “Any overt acts by a student or group of students directed against another student with the intent to ridicule, harass, humiliate, or intimidate the other student while on school grounds, at school sponsored activities, or on a school bus, which acts are committed more than once against any student during the school year. (My italics) • Such policies may include provisions addressing bullying outside of the school setting if it has a direct and negative impact on a student’s academic performance or safety in school.” (Connecticut General Statutes 10-222d) © JAF 1999 - 2011

  28. And More Definitions… • “Harassment, intimidation, or bullying” means any intentional written, verbal, or physical act that a student has exhibited toward another particular student more than once and the behavior both: (1) Causes mental or physical harm to the other student (2) Is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive that it creates an intimidating, threatening, or abusive educational environment for the other student.” (Ohio HB 276) © JAF 1999 - 2011

  29. And, More… • “Bullying” means any severe or pervasive physical or verbal act or conduct, including communications made in writing or electronically, directed toward a student or students that has or can be reasonably predicted to have the effect of one or more of the following: (1) Placing the student or students in reasonable fear of harm to the student’s or students’ person or property, (2) Causing a substantially detrimental effect on the student’s or students’ physical or mental health; (3) Substantially interfering with the student’s or students’ academic performance, or (4) Substantially interfering with the student’s or students’ ability to participate in or benefit from the services, activities, or privileges provided by a school. Bullying as defined in this subsection (b) may take various forms, including without limitation one or more of the following: harassment, threats, intimidation, stalking, physical violence, theft, public humiliation, destruction of property, or retaliation for asserting or alleging an act of bullying. This list is meant to be illustrative and non-exhaustive.” (Illinois SB 3266) © JAF 1999 - 2011

  30. Looking For Bullying: We Miss What is Right Under Our Noses • To understand how difficult intervening whenever “bullying” occurs… • As you watch the short video clip… • Count the number of ball passes that occur among the students with WHITE SHIRTS © JAF 1999 - 2011

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  32. Two Questions… • How many of you are parents, aunts, uncles or mentors of children? • How many of you are raising/mentoring “BULLIES”? © JAF 1999 - 2011

  33. A TOXIC School Concept: A True Conversation Closer • No school wants to have any of it** • No parent/guardian will admit their child is one** • No child will own up to being one** • ** Bullying, Bully, “Bullier”, Bullying Behaviors • Everyone avoids these terms except the Target’s family © JAF 1999 - 2011

  34. Another Way to Think About This… • Think about individuals in your lives… • Have they every been MEAN to anyone? • You? • Peers? • Siblings? • Adults? • Anyone???? © JAF 1999 - 2011

  35. ‘BULLY’ and ‘BULLYING’ are OUT!!!“Mean” Is A Better Term/Concept • No one knows what “bullying” looks, feels and sounds like • We miss what is right under our noses • Everyone knows what “mean” looks, feels and sounds like • If “mean” is the standard, we are much more likely to help make it safer • If it’s mean…Intervene!!!! © JAF 1999 - 2011

  36. “Empathy” As True Antidote For Meanness • Having compassion for others • Includes animals and property • Being able to perceive the feelings of others • Learning to be empathic diminishes levels of meanness • Core concept in both emotional and social intelligence © JAF 1999 - 2011

  37. Mean-Spirited Behavior in Boys and Girls American “culture*” raises boys and girls in different ways * Culture can be interpreted as any/every message one receives from the time we wake up in the morning until we go to sleep. Those message come directly in conversation among individuals (adults and peers), from the media, from the sporting arena, from academic settings and everywhere else imagined… © JAF 1999 - 2011

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  39. The Boy Code: The Gender Straightjacket • “Boys will be boys” • “Boys should be boys” • Shame for expressing feeling and emotions other than anger and aggression • Violation of male stereotypes • Great fear of embarrassment and humiliation, feeling stupid or foolish © JAF 1999 - 2011

  40. Act Like A Man: The Boy Code Weak Unathletic Sensitive Mama’s boy Trying too hard Gay Acts like a girl Geeky/Nerd Cries Funny Aggressive Tough Athletic Confident Strong In control Money Car Girls Being Different! Rosalind Wiseman, Queen Bees & Wannabes © JAF 1999 - 2011

  41. Talking with Boys: Strategies • “Timed Silence” • Connect and share through “action” • Shooting hoops • Playing a board game • Riding a bike • Going for a walk • ANYTHING, but sharing with eye contact © JAF 1999 - 2011

  42. “The Girl Code” • Caucasian Code • Even for girls of color… “White Privilege” prevails • Thin • Pretty • Nice • No fighting • No arguing • No outward expression of violence • Girls ARE becoming more physically violent…just not giving up being covert and insidious © JAF 1999 - 2011

  43. Girls: Relational Aggression (Ruining Relationships) • Act out anger laterally because they cannot easily challenge the male/female hierarchy • The choice of popularity • Wish to be part of the group • Fear of being isolated, shunned and alone • The choice of status • Target • Perpetrator • Fear of being targeted themselves for stepping in to help other targets © JAF 1999 - 2011

  44. Act Like A Woman: The Girl Code Pretty Confident Hangs out with right guys Nice on the outside Happy Money Thin In Control Popular Athletic Too opinionated and cause-oriented Gay Shy Fat Acne Being Different! Rosalind Wiseman, Queen Bees & Wannabes © JAF 1999 - 2011

  45. Talking with Girls: Strategies • Do not ask what is going on…unless you can give lengthy and undivided attention • Talk about positive friendships • Use literature to explore relationship issues • Recognize and intervene with insidious and silent behaviors © JAF 1999 - 2011

  46. Targets Of “Bullies” Are Vulnerable • A public activity requiring a willing audience • Active: “egging on”, laughing, etc. • Passive: standing by watching, but not encouraging • Power struggle • Relationship between the aggressor and target is always uneven • Boys identify those they do not know or like • Girls identify those within their friendship circles © JAF 1999 - 2011

  47. Research On Playground Supervision • Adult perceptions of successful intervention • Adults believed they were intervening in 50% of incidences • Adults actually intervened in approximately 20% of incidences • When effectiveness of intervention considered, it fell to 12-15% of incidences • Children’s ability to intervene successfully is significantly higher than adults • Effective student intervention was double that of adults • Lessons learned from research • Adults need to listen and intervene more often • Adults need to empower students to intervene © JAF 1999 - 2011

  48. “Negligent Privacy” “Negligent privacy occurs when those who supervise and monitor children do not remain vigilant and unwittingly provide the opportunity for victimization to occur. Negligent privacy can occur on a playground filled with second graders, in a crowded high school cafeteria, during a youth group camping trip or even 10 feet away from a teacher in a classroom. Simply put, negligent privacy occurs when adults are not paying close attention to children under their care.” Weakfish: Bullying Through the Eyes of a Child by Michael Dorn, p. 62 Safe Havens International, Inc. www.safehavensinternational.org © JAF 1999 - 2011

  49. Video: Social Cruelty

  50. Addressing Those Who Act in Mean-Spirited Ways • Apply appropriate identified disciplinary measures from policies • Respond quickly and firmly to any retaliation toward targets and/or witness(es) • Enforce policies consistently and fairly • Students believe honor students, athletes, and students with positive relationships with adults receive less severe punishment than known “bullies” • Inconsistent application leads to diminished school connectivity: • Distrust in faculty • Increased cynicism • Decreased willingness to follow school rules © JAF 1999 - 2011