What does it mean to be a friend?
It’s National Bullying Prevention Month! That’s why we wanted to take a moment to encourage you to make a difference with your students.
As a teacher, it’s impossible to know each interaction that takes place inside and outside of the classroom. Bullying prevention is difficult when you don’t always see or hear what’s going on and you aren’t able to intervene. That’s why it’s even more important for educators to give specific guidance to students on how they can play a role in bullying prevention by being a friend.
Someone that is being bullied is someone that needs a friend. Whether it’s a friend who will look out for them or just someone in their school who is kind to them, students who are bullied will benefit from interactions with their peers.
Encourage your students to be on the lookout for fellow students who might be helped by a friendly invitation or a kind word.
Here are three helpful steps you can share with your students as they seek to be a friend:
- Be Aware
Encourage your students to be actively aware of their other classmates and peers. Your students are likely unaware of the feelings of most of the students around them. Maybe they have a few close friends that they spend the majority of their time with. Are they aware of the many other students in their classrooms?
Being more aware of one another is a great step towards being better friends! It’s easy to get caught up in a schedule or routine with the same people, friends, classes, and activities, but, by opening yourself up to the people, there’s a chance you’ll have more opportunities to get to know them, interact with them, and even become friends.
- Be Inclusive
Being aware of one another is a great first step to being more inclusive, which can bridge gaps and help prevent bullying.
Ask your students to consider how they can better include their fellow students in different activities. Inclusion can be something as simple as sitting with someone new at lunch or inviting someone new to join in a game or activity. It can go further – such as inviting a new friend to join in a weekend activity or to do homework together.
It’s fun to get to know new friends and your students never know what they might enjoy about one another. By being more inclusive, your students can actively develop more relationships at school and help one another feel less isolated – which can be a wonderfully practical way to prevent bullying inside and outside of school.
- Be Communicative
Talk to your students about communication. Awareness and inclusion can only go so far. It’s important that they are comfortable communicating with each other about their thoughts and feelings. Students tend to be more comfortable communicating with their peers about things like bullying and loneliness. If their peers are able to listen and understand the importance of being a friend to all, they’ll be able to help one another in ways that you might not be able to.
Encourage them to ask each other questions and truly learning about the person sitting next to them or in front of them or in the back of the classroom. They might be surprised about what they have in common!
Don’t let National Bullying Prevention Month go by without taking advantage of the time to achieve meaningful progress in your classroom!
Resources: Project Discovery offers a variety of bullying prevention courses to help students learn the essential life skills they need: Bullying, Cyberbullying, Internet Safety, Problem Solving, Conflict Resolution, and Friendship Basics.