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Bullying White Paper

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Bullying

 

What Schools Can Do

Franklin P. Schargel

Can you remember the schoolyard jingle that went, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”? Obviously that was not and is not the truth. Both physical and nonphysical forms of bullying can happen anywhere in the school, on the way to and from school, and even online. In recent years, bullying has become a “hot button” issue both in and out of school: “Over 13 million American kids will be bullied this year, making it the most common form of violence experienced by young people in the nation” (Hirsch, 2012).

According to the FBI, “Bullying remains one of the largest problems in schools, with the percentage of students reportedly bullied at least once per week steadily increasing since 1999” (Booth, Van Hasselt, & Vecchi, 2011). Additionally, cyberbullying has become more rampant (at least according to the media) and bullying has also contributed to the suicides of multiple children.

Schools need to assertively confront this problem and take any instance of bullying seriously. Addressing and preventing bullying requires the participation of all major school constituencies: leaders, teachers, and students. By taking organized schoolwide measures and arming individuals with the strategies to counteract bullying, schools can reduce the instances of bullying and be better prepared to address it when it happens.

 

 

What Is Bullying?

 

Bullying among children is commonly defined as intentional, repeated hurtful acts, words, or other behavior—such as name calling, threatening, and/or shunning—committed by one or more children against another. Bullying may be physical, verbal, emotional, or sexual in nature.

•     Physical bullying includes punching, poking, strangling, hair pulling, beating, biting, and excessive tickling.

•     Verbal bullying includes hurtful name-calling, teasing, and gossip.

•     Emotional bullying includes rejecting; terrorizing; extorting; defaming; humiliating; blackmailing; rating or ranking of personal characteristic such as race, disability, ethnicity, or perceived sexual orientation; manipulating friendships; isolating; ostracizing; and peer pressuring.

•     Sexual bullying includes many of the actions listed above as well as exhibitionism, voyeurism, sexual propositioning, sexual harassment, and abuse involving physical contact and sexual assault.

•     Cyberbullying—a relatively new phenomenon enhanced because of the dramatic increase in the use of cellphones and social media (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Skype)—is using the Internet or text messaging to intimidate, put down, or spread rumors about someone.

The Effects of Bullying

 

Victims can suffer far more than temporary physical harm. Victims are more likely than nonvictims to grow up being socially anxious and insecure, displaying more symptoms of depression than those who were not victimized as children. According to Harvard University, “[Victims of chronic bullying] are more likely to develop depression or think about suicide later on” (Harvard Health Publications, 2009). While students are still in school, the effects of bullying can be extremely damaging:

•     Grades may suffer because attention is drawn away from learning.

•     Fear may lead to absenteeism, truancy, or dropping out.

•     Victims may lose or fail to develop self-esteem, experience feelings of isolation, and become withdrawn and depressed.

•     Victims may be hesitant to take social, intellectual, emotional, or vocational risks.

•     If the problem persists, victims occasionally feel compelled to take drastic measures, such as vengeance in the form of fighting back, weapon carrying, or even suicide.

Bystanders and peers of victims can be distracted from learning as well. They may also be afraid of associating with or assisting the victim for fear of lowering their own status or inciting retribution from the bully. The experiences may leave them feeling guilty, insecure, and helpless.

Bullies themselves attend school less frequently and are more likely to drop out of school than other students. Several studies suggest that bullying in early childhood may be an early sign of the developing of violent tendencies, delinquency, and criminality.

Myths About Bullying

Myth Reality
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me. The emotional and psychological scars left by name calling can last a lifetime.
Children have to learn to stand up for themselves. Children who get up the courage to complain about being bullied are saying that they cannot cope with the situation on their own. Treat their complaints as a call for help. Additionally, it is important to provide children with problem-solving techniques and assertiveness training to deal with difficult situations.
Bullied children should hit back—only harder. This could cause serious harm. People who are bullies are often bigger and more powerful than their victims. This also gives children the idea that violence is a legitimate way to solve problems. Children learn how to bully by watching adults use their power for aggression. Adults have the power to lead by setting assertive and positive examples.
Kids will be kids. Bullying is a learned behavior. That is why it is important we change attitudes toward violence.
Being bullied builds character. Children who are bullied repeatedly have low self-esteem and do not trust others.
That is not bullying—they are just teasing. Vicious taunting hurts and should be stopped.
There have always been bullies and there always will be. By working together as parents, teachers and students we have the power to build a better future for our children. It takes time to change a culture and we need to work together to change attitudes about bullying.

What Schools Can Do to Prevent Bullying

 

School-Level Interventions

Many effective anti-bullying measures involve broad, school-level changes. By adjusting student schedules, training staff, and establishing a safe school atmosphere, schools can reduce the opportunities for bullying and communicate to students and parents that bullying is not tolerated.

•     Increase student reporting of bullying. To address the problem of students’ resistance to reporting bullying, some schools have set up “bully hotlines.” Alternatively, schools can provide a “bully box” in which students drop notes to alert teachers and administrators to bullies. Student and staff questionnaires can be used to assess the nature and extent of bullying problems.

•     Reduce the amount of time students can spend unsupervised. Because much of bullying occurs during the least supervised periods (e.g., recess, lunch breaks, class changes), reducing the amount of time available to students can reduce the amount of bullying. Student activities can also be provided in less-supervised areas to limit opportunities for bullying.

•     Assign bullies to a particular location or to particular tasks during release times. This approach separates bullies from their intended victims. Careful victim monitoring is required to ensure that bullies do not pick on victims at other times.

•     Stagger recess, lunch, and class-release times. This approach minimizes the number of students that are present at a given time, so supervisors have less trouble spotting bullying. However, supervisors must be mindful that most bullies are in the same grade as their victims.

•     Post classroom signs prohibiting bullying and listing the age-appropriate consequences. This puts would-be bullies on notice and outlines the risks they are taking. It also lets victims know that what happens to them is not okay. Teachers and administrators must consistently enforce the rules for them to have meaning.

•     Provide teachers with effective classroom-management training. Because research suggests that classes containing students with behavioral, emotional, or learning problems have more bullies and victims, teachers in those classes may require additional, tailored training to spot and address bullying.

•     Conduct classroom meetings or schoolwide assemblies to raise awareness regarding the problem of bullying and to communicate zero tolerance for such behavior.

 

 

Leader Interventions

The school principal’s commitment to and involvement in addressing school bullying are key. A principal who invests the time and energy to tackle the problem collaboratively and comprehensively will often get the best results. The following strategies are recommended:

•     Closely supervise children on playgrounds and in classrooms, hallways, rest rooms, cafeterias, and other areas where bullying occurs in school.

•     Form of a bullying prevention coordinating committee (a small group of energetic teachers, administrators, counselors, and other school staff who plan and monitor school activities). This committee should develop schoolwide rules and sanctions against bullying, systems to reinforce prosocial behavior, and events to raise school and community awareness about bullying.

•     Hold teacher in-service days to review findings from student questionnaires or surveys, discuss bullying problems, and plan the school’s violence prevention efforts.

•     Inform late-enrolling students and their parents about the school’s bullying policy. This removes any excuse new students have for bullying, puts parents on notice that the school takes bullying seriously, and stresses the importance the school places on countering it.

•     Ensure that your school has legally required policies and procedures for sexual discrimination. Make these procedures known to parents and students.

•     Receive and listen receptively to parents who report bullying. Establish procedures whereby such reports are investigated and resolved expeditiously at the school level to avoid perpetuating bullying.

 

Teacher Interventions

As the ones who spend the most time with students, teachers have the opportunity to positively influence students’ social and emotional development. In addition to providing a watchful eye, teachers can design lessons and activities around pro-social behaviors and discourage bullying in general.

•     Provide students with opportunities to talk about bullying and enlist their support in defining bullying as unacceptable behavior.

•     Develop strategies to reward students for positive, inclusive behavior.

•     Involve students in establishing classroom rules against bullying. Such rules may include a commitment from the teacher to not “look the other way” when incidents involving bullying occur.

•     Provide classroom activities and discussions related to bullying and violence, including the harm that they cause and strategies to reduce their incidence.

•     Develop a classroom action plan to ensure that students know what to do when they observe a bully–victim confrontation.

•     Teach cooperation by assigning projects that require collaboration. Such cooperation teaches students how to compromise and how to assert without demanding. Take care to vary grouping of participants and to monitor the treatment of and by participants in each group.

•     Take immediate action when bullying is observed. All teachers and school staff must let children know they care and will not allow anyone to be mistreated. By taking immediate action and dealing directly with the bully, adults support both the victim and the witnesses.

•     Confront bullies in private. Challenging bullies in front of their peers may actually enhance their status and lead to further aggression.

•     Notify parents of both victims and bullies when a confrontation occurs, and seek to resolve the problem expeditiously at school.

•     Refer both victims and aggressors to counseling when appropriate.

•     Provide protection for bullying victims when necessary. Such protection may include creating a buddy system whereby students have a particular friend or older buddy on whom they can depend and with whom they share class schedule information and plans for the school day.

•     Listen receptively to parents who report bullying, and investigate reported circumstances so immediate and appropriate school action may be taken.

•     Avoid attempts to mediate a bullying situation. The difference in power between victims and bullies may cause victims to feel further victimized by the process or to believe they are somehow at fault.

Student Interventions

Students may not know what to do when they observe a classmate being bullied or experience such victimization themselves. Classroom discussions and activities may help students develop a variety of appropriate actions that they can take when they witness or experience such victimization. For instance, depending on the situation and their own level of comfort, students can do the following:

•     Seek immediate help from an adult and report bullying and victimization incidents to school personnel.

•     Speak up and/or offer support to the victim when they see him or her being bullied (e.g., picking up the victim’s books and handing them to him or her).

•     Privately support those being hurt those being hurt with words of kindness or condolence.

•     Express disapproval of bullying behavior by not joining in the laughter, teasing, or spreading of rumors or gossip.

•     Attempt to defuse problem situations either single handedly or in a group (e.g., by taking the bully aside and asking him or her to “cool it”).

Bullying: Summary

Defining the issue Bullying can be physical or social-emotional. It is characterized by an imbalance of power. It consists of repeated, systematic harassment by an individual or group.
The warning signs Withdrawal from family and school activities, shyness, stomachaches, headaches, not being able to sleep, sleeping too much, being exhausted, nightmares, social isolation, negative view of self, increasing difficulty with school achievement, and giving excuses not to go to school.
Significance of the problem Nearly one in three students in sixth grade through tenth grade is affected by bullying. Victims suffer “extreme fear and stress,” including “fear of going to school” and “diminished ability to learn” (National Education Association, 2012).
What you can teach students If they are bullied, tell the bully to stop, walk away, avoid or ignore the teasing, make a joke, hang with friends, tell an adult. If they witness someone being bullied, help the person get away, recognize bullying behaviors, get an adult, recruit others to help the person, befriend the person, and speak up.
How you can help Be watchful—supervise young people on the playground, at bus stops, etc. Tell them that bullying is unacceptable. Reassure them and tell them they were right to talk to you about bullying problems. Work with other adults to help those who are bullied and those who bully others.

References

 

Alberta Resource Center for Quality Enhancement. (2005). Retrieved from http://www.bullyfreealberta.ca.

Booth, B., Van Hasselt, V. B., Vecchi, G. M. (2011). Addressing school violence. Federal Bureau of Investigation. Retrieved from http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/law-enforcement-bulletin/may_2011/school_violence.

Davis, S. (2003). Schools where everyone belongs: Practical strategies for reducing bullying. Wayne, Maine: Stop Bullying Now.

Harvard Health Publications. (2009). Taking on school bullies. Harvard Mental Health Letter. Retrieved from http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletters/Harvard_Mental_Health_Letter/2009/September/taking-on-school-bullies.

Hirsch, L. (Director). (2012). BULLY [Motion picture]. United States: Weinstein Company.

National Education Association. (2012). Our position & actions on school safety. Retrieved from http://www.nea.org/home/19535.htm.

Olweus, D. (1993). Bullying at school: What we know and what we can do. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.

Samson, R. (2009). Bullying in schools. U.S. Department of Justice, Community Oriented Police Services (COPS). Retrieved from http://www.cops.usdoj.gov/Publications/e07063414-guide.pdf.

Schargel, Franklin P. (2006). Best practices to help at-risk learners. Larchmont, NY: Eye On Education.

Schargel, Franklin P. (2012). Dropout prevention fieldbook: Best practices from the field. Larchmont, NY: Eye On Education.

Schargel, Franklin P. (2003). Dropout prevention tools. Larchmont, NY: Eye On Education.

Swearer, S. M., Espelage, D. L., Napolitano, S. A. (2009). Bullying prevention and intervention: Realistic strategies for schools. New York: Guilford Press.

U.S. Department of Education. (1998). Preventing bullying: A manual for schools and communities. Washington, D.C. Retrieved from http://www.eric.ed.gov/PDFS/ED453592.pdf.

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Bullying

Introduction

What Is Bullying?

Bullying among children is commonly defined as intentional, repeated hurtful acts, words or other behavior—such as name calling, threatening, and/or shunning—committed by one or more children against another. Bullying may be physical, verbal, emotional, or sexual in nature. For example:

•    Physical bullying includes punching, poking, strangling, hair pulling, beating, biting, and excessive tickling.

•    Verbal bullying includes hurtful name-calling, teasing, and gossip.

•    Emotional bullying includes rejecting; terrorizing; extorting; defaming; humiliating; blackmailing; rating or ranking of personal characteristic such as race, disability, ethnicity, or perceived sexual orientation; manipulating friendships; isolating; ostracizing; and peer pressure.

•    Sexual bullying includes many of the actions listed above as well as exhibitionism, voyeurism, sexual propositioning, sexual harassment, and abuse involving actual physical contact and sexual assault.

•     Cyberbullying is using the Internet or text messaging to intimidate, put down, or spread rumors about someone.

Who Is Bullied?

Victims can suffer far more than actual physical harm.

•    Grades may suffer because attention is drawn away from learning.

•    Fear may lead to absenteeism, truancy, or dropping out.

•    Victims may lose or fail to develop self-esteem, experience feelings of isolation, and become withdrawn and depressed.

•    As students and later as adults, victims may be hesitant to take social, intellectual, emotional, or vocational risks.

•    If the problem persists, victims occasionally feel compelled to take drastic measures, such as vengeance in the form of fighting back, weapon carrying, or even suicide.

•    Victims are more likely than nonvictims to grow up being socially anxious and insecure, displaying more symptoms of depression than those who were not victimized as children.

•    Bystanders and peers of victims can be distracted from learning as well.

•    They may be afraid to associate with the victim for fear of lowering their own status or of retribution from the bully and becoming victims themselves.

•    They may fear reporting bullying incidents because they do not want to be called a “snitch,” a “tattler,” or an “informer.”

•    They may experience feelings of guilt or helplessness for not standing up to the bully on behalf of their classmate.

•    They may feel unsafe, unable to take action, or out of control.

Bullies attend school less frequently and are more likely to drop out of school than other students. Several studies suggest that bullying in early childhood may be an early sign of the developing of violent tendencies, delinquency, and criminality.

Myths About Bullying

Myth #1: Sticks and stones can break your bones but words can never hurt me.

Reality: Scars left by name calling can last a lifetime.

Myth #2: Children have to learn to stand up for themselves.

Reality: Children who get up the courage to complain about being bullied are saying they cannot cope with the situation on their own. Treat their complaints as a call for help. In addition, it is important to provide children with problem solving techniques and assertiveness training to deal with difficult situations.

Myth #3: Children should hit back—only harder.

Reality: This could cause serious harm. People who are bullies are often bigger and more powerful than their victims. This also gives children the idea that violence is a legitimate way to solve problems. Children learn how to bully by watching adults use their power for aggression. Adults have the power to lead by positive example.

Myth #4: It builds character.

Reality: Children who are bullied repeatedly have low self-esteem and do not trust others.

Myth #5: That is not bullying. They are just teasing.

Reality: Vicious taunting hurts and should be stopped.

Myth #6: There have always been bullies and there always will be.

Reality: By working together as parents, teachers and students we have the power to build a better future for our children. It takes time to change a culture and we need to work together to change attitudes about bullying.

Myth #7: Kids will be kids.

Reality: Bullying is a learned behavior. That is why it is important we change attitudes toward violence.

How to Prevent School Bullying

 

School-Level Interventions

•    Increase student reporting of bullying. To address the problem of students’ resistance to reporting bullying, some schools have set up a bully hotline. Some schools use a “bully box”: Students drop a note in the box to alert teachers and administrators to problem bullies. Others have developed student questionnaires to determine the nature and extent of bullying problems in school.

•    Develop activities in less-supervised areas. In these areas (e.g., schoolyards, lunchrooms), trained supervisors spot bullying and initiate activities that limit opportunities for it.

•     Reduce the amount of time students can spend unsupervised. Because much bullying occurs during the least supervised time (e.g., recess, lunch breaks, class changes), reducing the amount of time available to students can reduce the amount of bullying.

•    Stagger recess, lunch, and class-release times. This approach minimizes the number of bullies and victims present at one time, so supervisors have less trouble spotting bullying. However, supervisors must be mindful that most bullies are in the same grade as their victims.

•    Monitor areas where bullying can be expected, such as bathrooms. Adult monitoring can increase the risk that bullies will get caught but may require increased staffing or trained volunteers.

•    Assign bullies to a particular location or to particular chores during release times. This approach separates bullies from their intended victims. Some teachers give bullies constructive tasks to occupy them during release times. Careful victim monitoring is required to ensure that bullies do not pick on victims at other times.

•    Post classroom signs prohibiting bullying and listing the consequences. This puts would-be bullies on notice and outlines the risks they are taking. Teacher must consistently enforce the rules for them to have meaning. Schools should post signs in each classroom and apply age-appropriate penalties.

•    Have high-level school administrators inform late-enrolling students and their parents about the school’s bullying policy. This removes any excuse new students have for bullying, puts parents on notice that the school takes bullying seriously, and stresses the importance the school places on countering it.

•    Provide teachers with effective classroom-management training. To address bullying, schools should ensure that all teachers have effective classroom-management training. Because research suggests that classes containing students with behavioral, emotional, or learning problems have more bullies and victims, teachers in those classes may require additional, tailored training in spotting and handling bullying.

•    Form of a bullying prevention coordinating committee (a small group of energetic teachers, administrators, counselors, and other school staff who plan and monitor school activities.) This committee should develop schoolwide rules and sanctions against bullying, systems to reinforce prosocial behavior, and events to raise school and community awareness about bullying.

•    Hold teacher in-service days to review findings from student questionnaires or surveys, discuss bullying problems, and plan the school’s violence prevention efforts.

•     Schedule regular classroom meetings during which students and teachers engage in discussion, role playing and artistic activities related to preventing bullying and other forms of violence among students.

Administrative Interventions

The school principal’s commitment to and involvement in addressing school bullying are key. A principal who invests the time and energy to tackle the problem collaboratively and comprehensively generally will get the most effective results.

•     Assess the awareness and the scope of the bullying problems at school through student and staff surveys.

•     Closely supervise children on playgrounds and in classrooms, hallways, rest rooms, cafeterias, and other areas where bullying occurs in school.

•     Conduct schoolwide assemblies and teacher and staff in-service training to raise awareness regarding the problem of bullying and to communicate zero tolerance for such behavior.

•     Post and publicize clear behavior standards, including rules against bullying, for all students. Consistently and fairly enforce such behaviors.

•     Encourage parent participation by establishing on-campus parent centers that recruit, coordinate, and encourage parents to take part in the educational process and volunteer to assist in school activities and projects.

•     Establish a confidential reporting system that allows children to report victimization and that records the details of bullying incidents.

•     Ensure that your school has legally required policies and procedures for sexual discrimination. Make these procedures known to parents and students.

•     Receive and listen receptively to parents who report bullying. Establish procedures whereby such reports are investigated and resolved expeditiously at the school level to avoid perpetuating bullying.

•     Develop strategies to reward students for positive, inclusive behavior.

•     Provide schoolwide and classroom activities designed to build self-esteem by spotlighting special talents, hobbies, interests, and abilities of all students and that foster mutual understanding of and appreciation for differences in others.

Teacher Interventions

•    Provide students with opportunities to talk about bullying, and enlist their support in defining bullying as unacceptable behavior.

•    Involve students in establishing classroom rules against bullying. Such rules may include a commitment from the teacher to not “look the other way” when incidents involving bullying occur.

•    Provide classroom activities and discussions related to bullying and violence, including the harm that they cause and strategies to reduce their incidence.

•    Develop a classroom action plan to ensure that students know what to do when they observe a bully–victim confrontation.

•    Teach cooperation by assigning projects that require collaboration. Such cooperation teaches students how to compromise and how to assert without demanding. Take care to vary grouping of participants and to monitor the treatment of and by participants in each group.

•    Take immediate action when bullying is observed. All teachers and school staff must let children know they care and will not allow anyone to be mistreated. By taking immediate action and dealing directly with the bully, adults support both the victim and the witnesses.

•    Confront bullies in private. Challenging bullies in front of their peers may actually enhance their status and lead to further aggression.

•    Notify parents of both victims and bullies when a confrontation occurs, and seek to resolve the problem expeditiously at school.

•    Refer both victims and aggressors to counseling when appropriate.

•    Provide protection for bullying victims when necessary. Such protection may include creating a buddy system whereby students have a particular friend or older buddy on whom they can depend and with whom they share class schedule information and plans for the school day.

•    Listen receptively to parents who report bullying, and investigate reported circumstances so immediate and appropriate school action may be taken.

•    Avoid attempts to mediate a bullying situation. The difference in power between victims and bullies may cause victims to feel further victimized by the process or to believe they are somehow at fault.

Student Interventions

Students may not know what to do when they observe a classmate being bullied or experience such victimization themselves. Classroom discussions and activities may help students develop a variety of appropriate actions that they can take when they witness or experience such victimization. For instance, depending on the situation and their own level of comfort, students can do the following:

•     Seek immediate help from an adult and report bullying and victimization incidents to school personnel

•     Speak up and/or offer support to the victim when they see him or her being bullied (e.g., picking up the victim’s books and handing them to him or her)

•     Privately support those being hurt those being hurt with words of kindness or condolence

•     Express disapproval of bullying behavior by not joining in the laughter, teasing, or spreading of rumors or gossip

•     Attempt to defuse problem situations either single handedly or in a group (e.g., by taking the bully aside and asking him or her to “cool it”

Keeping Kids Safe: Helping Children Face Tough Issues

Defining the issue Bullying can be physical or social-emotional. It is characterized by an imbalance of power. It consists of repeated, systematic harassment by an individual or group.
The warning signs Withdrawal from family and school activities, shyness, stomachaches, headaches, not being able to sleep, sleeping too much, being exhausted, nightmares, social isolation, negative view of self, increasing difficulty with school achievement, and giving excuses not to go to school.
Significance of the problem Every day, 160,000 children miss school for fear of bullying. Sixty-one percent of students report witnessing bullying or taunting at least once a day (National Crime Prevention Council, 2003).
What you can do—Teach children and youth to… If they are bullied, tell the person to stop, walk away, avoid or ignore the teasing, make a joke, hang with friends, tell an adult. If they witness someone being bullied, help the person get away, recognize bullying behaviors, get an adult, recruit others to help the person, befriend the person, and speak up.
What you can do—Additional steps Be watchful—supervise young people on the playground, at bus stops, etc. Tell them that bullying is unacceptable. Reassure them and tell them they were right to talk to you about bullying problems. Work with other adults to help those who are bullied and those who bully others.

 

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Bullying White Paper

Here’s a White Paper that excerpts key information of my new book, “Preventing School Violence:  A Guide for Educators, Students and Parents”.

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Excerpts from “Schools Where Teachers Lead: What Successful Leaders Do”

I am happy to present 18 pages of my newest book, “Schools Where Teachers Lead: What Successful Leaders Do”. John Bell took the lead in this book and it is the third book in the series of three. The first dealt with leadership; the second with school culture. The pages appear under the “Resources” section on the home page.

You can order copies from: http://www.eyeoneducation.com/prodinfo.asp?number=7173-7

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Excerpts from 162 Keys to School Success: Be the Best, Hire The Best, Train, Inspire & Retain The Best

Used with permission from Schargel, 162 Keys to School Success: Be the Best,  Hire the Best, Train, Inspire, and Retain the Best. Copyright 2010 Eye On Education, Inc. Larchmont, NY. All rights reserved. www.eyeoneducation.com

1 Shared Leadership.

Organizations based on shared leadership thrive while organizations based on dictatorial or despotic leadership at best, perish; at worst, survive. One need not look far to find examples of this in the business world, where the most admired chief executive officers share leadership. In education, the schools we identified in our leadership and culture books (From

At-Risk to Academic Excellence: What Successful Leaders Do; Schargel, Thacker, & Bell, 2008, and Creating School Cultures That Embrace Learning: What Successful Leaders Do; Thacker,Bell, & Schargel, 2009) were able to thrive because, as participants stated, “We treat everyone as family and family doesn’t allow family to fail.” When site visits were paid to many of the schools that responded to our surveys and we asked who is responsible for the success of the school, the staff replied, “the principal.” When we asked the principals the same question, they replied, “the staff.” What makes shared leadership work?

_

 Openness to suggestions

_

 Open lines of communication

_

 Building trust

_

 Having respect, giving respect

The job of principal is overwhelming and few people expect you to have all the answers. You can’t do it all by yourself or all at once. You might look for a place to start and then look upstream in order to prevent problems for occurring in the first place. You should gather data on your current situation and continue to gather data as you move forward. Envision the ideal situation as you go.

2 Placing Blame.

People tend to blame people when in reality it is the system that is failing. How do you produce better results while not changing the process that produces those results? Fixing a piece of the system (i.e., teachers) without fixing the rest of the system tends to sub- optimize what we wish to accomplish. On the other hand, systemic reform will make everything better, not just that piece that we have focused on.

3 Establish a Mentoring Network.

The best principals make the best mentors. Speak to your colleagues in your district or in the surrounding districts and establish a network where you can collaborate with your professional peers. Collaboration will afford each of you opportunities to experiment and to receive feedback on new approaches you are using and on specific initiatives you are undertaking. Professional development should not be for classroom teachers only. Hold monthly meetings and rotate the schools where the meetings are held. Ask to visit classrooms in

schools you do not supervise. See what you can replicate in your school.

4 Reconsider Retention.

Despite a half-century of data and research showing that retention does not result in long-term gains in achievement, schools continue to retain students. Retention is popular among politicians who criticize “social promotion” and believe that the threat of retention motivates students. The discussion about social promotion became part of our nation’s dialogue about education when President Bill Clinton asked for its end in three consecutive State of the Union Addresses (1997–1999). Data indicate that retained students are more likely to drop out of school than those students who have not been retained. Retention increases the risk of dropping out between 20 to 50 percent. Up to 78 percent of students who drop out before graduation have been retained at least once. Racial minority students and students living in poverty constitute the majority of those who are retained. Gains in achievement for retained students were either nonexistent or were not maintained in subsequent years after retention, according to The Effects of Retention on Drop-out and Graduation Rates, A Research Brief of The Principals’ Partnership: A Program of Union Pacific Foundation (Blayaert, 2009; see http://www.principalspartnership.com).

Retention doesn’t work and has a devastating effect on students, the educational system, and the parents of those retained, so why do we use it? It would appear to me that we need to build safety nets early into the system. We can- not wait until the end of a school term or a school year to reprogram failing students during a summer where many of the same teachers are teaching the same material in the same way using the same curriculum and same textbooks. The minute a teacher identifies a failing student we need to establish tutoring classes that take place after school, before school, or on Saturdays. The incentive to parents would be that any student who is failing and does not avail himself or herself of the increased time might face the prospect of being held back.

5 What We Can Learn from the Best Sports Managers.

Great managers of baseball, football, soccer, and basketball know that if they hired the best players, they will have a great team. Similarly, great principals know that if they hire the best teachers that are available, they will have a great school. We need to trust the people who we hire to do the jobs they are assigned. We also need to empower people to make decisions. When candidates are being interviewed, get them to talk specifically about how they would handle different challenges. How would they deal with a crisis like a fight in their classroom? How have they reacted in the past when something went badly? What were the most significant mistakes they have made along the way and what have they done to correct them? What have they learned from their mistakes? How would they deal with the situation differently today?

6 Make It Happen.

I used to coach soccer. I love soccer for several reasons. First of all and most important, it is a team sport—everyone plays and there aren’t any real stars. If the team wins, it is a team victory, not a quarter- back’s or pitcher’s victory. When I coached, I informed the players that if they wanted to win, they needed to make it happen. No one would put a victory in their hands. Education currently is based on individual achievement, not on team involvement. Achievement or lack thereof is credited to “good” teachers or “bad” teachers. I would rather have a team composed of no bad people, rather than a team with a few stars. For example, in soccer, everyone has different skills. Some people are playmakers and can create great visions and make great plays. Some people do not want to screw up and so they pass the ball to more established players. The team leader needs to keep everyone on the team going in a productive direction. A team focused on objectives will not burn out. How do your people react when something goes wrong? Do they freeze up? Do they bemoan their fate? Or, do they get back into the game, looking at their errors and making corrections to avoid them in the future?

One of the things that I learned by reading and by experience is called the “Deming Cycle,” which is P.D.S.A., Plan, Do, Study and Act. I think it has great applicability in education. As educators, we spend a great deal of time developing strategic plans. We spend far less time developing and measuring strategic deployment. We do not think about what happens when we deploy our plans, but it is critical that we determine what worked and what needs to be improved. We need to study the results of our actions. And having studied and measured the results, we need to complete the cycle and act again. Each time we go through the cycle, we need to always make improvements, revising and updating, slowly and deliberately.

7 My First Day on the Job.

I remember the first day that I worked as a teacher. It was hard to forget because on that first day was a teachers’ strike. It was a bone-chilling cold day in September and I had met very few of the faculty. It was also the first day for the principal, Irving Anker. As we walked around the school in a picket line, one of the school dieticians came out with a tray of hot coffee and a tray of doughnuts. When we asked how much they were, she said, “Oh, don’t worry about it. The new principal paid for them.” In that one gesture, the principal made more friends on the faculty than anything else he could have done on that cold fall day.

8 Imbed the Improvement Process.

I call this “widening the circle”—bringing more people into the process rather than leaving them outside. It is very difficult institutionalizing a process rather than having its success dependent on a single individual or group of individuals— individuals who may leave, retire or become unavailable. The belief that organizational improvement needs to cascade down from the top upper echelons of school managers no longer works in today’s schools where frequently the staff has more seniority and experience than the principal. Good ideas are constantly being percolated up from the teaching ranks. Until school leaders at all levels take advantage of this percolator philosophy, schools will continue to mire in the mud.

9 “If You Were in My Shoes. . . .

” Ask your faculty, “If you were in my shoes, what three things would you do to improve the performance of the school?” Have them write their answers on sticky notes. Then have them place the sticky notes on a white board and look for ideas that seem to be related. Place these in a vertical a list. At the top of each list, post a title sticky such as “More parent involvement,” “Student apathy,” and so on. By having a visual, people can see where the problems lie. At the same time, the staff needs to realize that there are inhibiting factors such as:

_

 limited resources

_

 the number of staff with the knowledge and capacity

to lead the work

key staff turnover

_

 too many organizations with conflicting agendas

_

 reform overload.

Do not allow the inhibiting factors to deter the faculty from addressing the issues of improvement. Remind them that white water rapids are still waters that have learned how to go around obstacles.

10 Take Time to Recharge Your Batteries.

Have you ever thought, “What would happen if I wasn’t around?” Everyone needs time for himself or herself—time to get away from work, time to ingest and absorb all that takes place in your life. Build a balanced life around your personal life and school and make sure that the boundaries are as firm as you can make them. Find the time during the day to take a walk outside your building. Leave your cell phone and walkie-talkie behind and just mellow out.

11 Take Time for Your Family.

It is paradoxical that when improving the lives of other people’s children, educators fail to take the time to improve the lives of their own children. Balance your life by spending some time with your family.

12 Be a Boss, Without Being Bossy.

Robert M. Gates,Secretary of Defense under President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama, tells this story: During the Revolutionary War, a man in civilian clothes rode past a wall being repaired.

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See Franklin on You Tube

Click here to see my entire portion from the “New Mexico in Focus” TV Show on July 26, 2009.

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Preventing Young People From Committing Suicide

I have just presented at the Virginia Vision’s Conference and a number of people asked me to post this and send it to them. For those of you who have to deal with the problem of suicide, print this and have it available.

It doesn’t seem right that a young person between the ages of 11 and 19- who has lived for such a short time and has a long life ahead – would choose to die. Look up “teenage suicide’ at google.com and you will find 1,100,000 “hits.” And with good reason:

DID YOU KNOW?

• In the next 24 hours 1,439 teens will attempt suicide. As many as 250,000 adolescents made a serious unsuccessful effort to kill themselves last year.
• Every 90 minutes a teenager or young adult is successful in killing themselves.
• According to experts, suicide is the third leading cause of teenage deaths after automobile accidents and homicide. Almost as many teens die from suicide as the fourth through the tenth leading causes of death combined.
• The suicide rate in the past 25 years has been decreasing, yet the rate for those between 15 and 24 has tripled. The adolescent suicide rate is nearly 33% higher than that of the overall population.
• Many youths have sought help in the month before the suicide.
• The ratio of male to female suicides is four to one. However young women attempt suicide nine times more frequently. Guns are the most common means of suicide among males. Pills are the most commonly used method of suicide for females.
• White males have had the highest increase in suicide, which rose 50% between 1970 & 1978. The incidence for white females increased 12%. Suicide among young blacks has also dramatically increased.
• Half of all children who have made one suicide attempt will make another, sometimes as many as two a year until they succeed.

WHAT ARE THE CAUSES?

Depression- A teen that is feeling suicidal may see no other way out of their problems, no other escape from emotional pain or no one to whom they can communicate about how they feel. Depression expresses itself in a variety of ways including: changes in appetite; chances in activity level; loss of sleep; lack on interest in activities that normally give pleasure; social withdrawal; and thoughts of death or punishment.

Substance Abuse Problems- Alcohol and some drugs are depressants. Youths who are depressed may take these substances thinking that they will help ease the pain. In reality, they make the situation worse. They may limit their ability to assess risk, cloud their judgment, make good choices and think of solutions to their problems.

Teenage Stress – There are many pressures on teenagers – one’s that they have never experience before. These include social, academic and personal, sexuality and relationship pressures. Some teens struggle with weight and eating problems, while others face learning difficulties in school. Getting in trouble in school or with the law, fighting with parents are risk factors for suicide. A traumatic event like a breakup, failing a test, an unintended pregnancy or getting into an accident can bring on suicidal tendencies.

Violence – There is more violence in the newspapers, on television, on electronic games and in the movies. Many children live in increasingly violent neighborhoods. There is increased violence in the homes including familial violence and sexual abuse. And it is easier to get the tools (guns and pills) of suicide. If there is a gun in the home, youths are 5 times more likely to commit suicide than in homes without a gun.

Lack of parental interest – Many children grow up in single –parent households. Others have two working parents. According to one study, 90% of suicidal teenagers believed their families did not understand them.
Data show that families are spending less time together and more of our young people are spending more and more time in front of television screens.

WHAT ARE THE WARNING SIGNS?

The list below lists the most prevalent causes of youth suicide. The list is not all-inclusive but should assist educators in identifying the most common warning signs. Not all youngsters who exhibit these signs will commit suicide. However the greater the number of warning signs, the greater the likelihood of suicide predictors.

Warning Signs

Youth are most at risk of attempting suicide are those who:

• Made previous suicide attempts

• Talks about committing suicide

• Feels that “it is all my fault”

• Exhibit anger

• Signs of serious depression, moodiness, hopelessness, withdrawal

• Is a loner.

• Increased use of drugs or alcohol

• Changes in the sleeping or eating habits of the student.

• Cries often.

• Chronic or sudden truancy

• Gives away possessions

• Recent suicide of a loved one or family member

• Preoccupied with death and dying

• Loses interest in their personal appearance

• Turmoil within family (divorce, remarriage, separation, merging of two families)

• Have a family history of suicide

• Have had a recent stressful event or loss in their lives

• Have easy access to lethal methods, especially guns

• Show signs of changes in eating and sleeping habits.

• Exhibit rebellious behavior or running away.

• Have difficulty concentrating or decline in quality of school work

• Loss of interest in previously pleasurable activities

• Gives verbal hints, such as “I won’t be a problem for you much longer,” or “Nothing matters.”

• Conflicts around sexual orientation

• Experienced a romantic break up

• Accessibility of firearms

• Increased pressure to perform, achieve, be responsible

• Taking unnecessary risks

The greater the number of warning signs, the greater the risk.

WHAT CAN EDUCATORS DO?

• While no one single symptom – or even a combination of factors is a predictor of suicide. If you suspect that a student is suicidal, teachers and students should tell a counselor or an administrator.
• Always take suicidal comments very seriously. If a student says that he or she is thinking about suicide, you need to take the comments seriously. If you assume that the person is only seeking attention, you may be making a serious and potentially fatal decision.
• Listen attentively to everything that a potential suicide person has to say. Encourage the person talk as much as he or she wants to. Listen closely so that you can be as supportive as possible, and learn as much as possible about what is cause the pain.
• Comfort the person with words of encouragement. There is no script to follow in these situations.
• Don’t lecture or point out all the reasons a person has to live. Instead, listen and reassure the individual that depression and suicidal tendencies can be treated.
• If you suspect that the individual is at high risk of suicide, do not leave the person alone. If you are in doubt, call 911.
• Know your limits. Most of us have not been trained in how to handle situations like this. Be supportive; listen attentively; let the person know that you are deeply concerned.
• There are a number of local suicides “hotlines.” Their numbers are listed in your local telephone directories. Check the numbers in front of your telephone directory or call the emergency numbers. There is a National Suicide Helpline-1800-SUICIDE. These telephone lines are staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by trained professional who can help without ever identifying the name of the individual calling. All calls are confidential.

Website Resources

Teenage Suicide.com, http://www.1-teenage-suicide.com

American Academy of Pediatrics http://www.aap.org/advocacy/childhealthmonth/prevteensuicide.htm

Teen Suicide http://.focusas.com/suicide.html

Teens Health, http://www.kidshealth.org/

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Helping Students Graduate Presentation Excerpt

Over 7 1/2 minutes of my presentation delivered at Coastal Community College is now posted on the YouTube Website. Click here to see it now. For additonal information, feel free to contact me at franklin@schargel.com if you are interested in having me speak at your school, district or conference.

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SREB Report on High Schools That Work

Last year I spoke at the Southern Regional Education Board in Atlanta Georgia. They have just issued an analysis of that workshop.

Schools With Higher Graduation Rates Work Hard to Engage Students in Learning

Southern Regional Education Board, 592 10th St. N.W., Atlanta, GA 30318, (404) 875-9211, www.sreb.org APRIL 2009

Teachers Can Help Students Graduate:
Tips and Tools to Prevent Dropouts

Every school day, the equivalent of 171 busloads of children leaves school in the United States, never to return. That’s our daily dropout rate. Do you think we can afford that? I don’t.
— Franklin Schargel

Franklin Schargel, senior managing associate of the School Success Network in Albuquerque, New Mexico, has devoted his life to improving education. His career has included classroom teaching, school counseling and school supervision and administration. He is the author of books such as 152 Ways to Keep Students in School: Effective, Easy-to-Implement Tips for Teachers and Strategies to Help Solve Our School Dropout Problem. In the book, Helping Students Graduate: A Strategic Approach to Dropout Prevention, Schargel and co-author Jay Smink, executive director of the National Dropout Prevention Center at Clemson University in Clemson, South Carolina, provide 15 strategies to address the dropout problem.

The strategies are designed to help teachers be proactive in helping at-risk students to graduate. They are research-based, data-driven and linked to each other, Schargel said. They have been recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the United States Education Goals Panel as “the most effective strategies to solve our school dropout problem.”

Dropout Prevention Strategies
The basic core strategies are mentoring and tutoring, service learning, alternative schooling and extended learning opportunities.
Mentoring is a caring, supportive relationship based on trust between a mentor and a mentee, while tutoring focuses on meeting students’ specific academic needs. Sometimes older students are asked to tutor younger students in reading, mathematics or science during a lunch period or a study hall. “Mentoring and tutoring might include pairing every senior with a freshman student to build ninth-graders’ academic skills,” Schargel said.

Service learning connects community service with academic learning. It promotes personal and social growth, career development and civic responsibility. “Service learning connects school to the workplace and gives students reasons to attend school and learn,” Schargel said.

Alternative schooling provides potential dropouts a variety of options that can lead to graduation. Many schools provide extended learning opportunities after school and in the summer to eliminate information loss and heighten students’ interest in learning. Teachers can build extended learning opportunities into the school day to engage students who use the Internet and watch movies and television.

In the group of dropout prevention strategies known as early intervention, educators should consider early childhood education, early literacy development and family engagement. “The most effective way to reduce the number of children who ultimately will drop out of school is to provide the best possible classroom instruction from the beginning of their school experience,” Schargel said. Early childhood education is important, he said, because the dropout process can begin in kindergarten.

Early literacy development, designed to help low-achieving students improve their reading and writing skills, can establish the foundation for effective learning in all subjects, Schargel said. Reading and writing to learn are vital skills in keeping students enrolled in school until graduation. “Assign books that students like to read,” Schargel said.

Research has shown that family engagement has a direct, positive effect on student achievement and is an accurate predictor of a student’s success in school, Schargel said. He suggests surveying families to determine the best time and place to hold meetings aimed at involving families in helping their children meet academic goals.

The next set of dropout prevention strategies contains ways to make the most of instruction, including professional development, active learning, educational technology and individualized instruction. “Effective professional development
programs are long-term and school-based,” Schargel said. “They include demonstration, practice and feedback; comprehensive staff involvement; and sufficient time and resources to deliver new instructional techniques.” Teachers who work with at-risk students need to feel that they are supported in developing instructional skills and techniques and learning innovative classroom strategies. Active learning includes methods of involving students in the interactive pursuit of learning. “When students are shown that there are different ways to learn, they find new and creative ways to solve problems, achieve success and become lifelong learners,” Schargel said.

Educational technology allows teachers to deliver instruction that engages students in authentic learning and addresses individual learning styles. Individualized instruction provides a customized learning program for each student and gives teachers flexibility in their instruction.
Dropout prevention strategies that make the most of the wider community include systemic renewal, school and community collaboration, career/technical education and safe schools.
Systemic renewal calls for an ongoing process for evaluating goals and objectives related to school policies, practices and organizational structures as they impact a diverse group of learners.
When groups support the school through school and community collaboration, the result is a caring environment where students can thrive and achieve. “Schools cannot do it alone,” Schargel said. “They must work with a number of groups to build an infrastructure of support.”
In recommending career/technical education as a dropout prevention strategy, Schargel credited it with being goal-oriented, creating awareness of possibilities, providing needed experiences, developing career skills and encouraging positive habits.
Safe schools are made possible by adopting clear discipline policies, offering anger management and conflict resolution sessions, and maintaining a caring and cooperative school culture that respects diversity.

“Increasing the graduation rate and reducing the dropout rate are great economic incentives for the community,” Schargel said. He explained that more than 80 percent of prisoners are dropouts and that the average cost per prisoner is $41,000 per year. “Ignorance is expensive,” he said.

Contact: Franklin Schargel ( franklin@schargel.com)

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Chapter 1 from Creating School Cultures That Embrace Learning

I am honored to present the first chapter of my new book, “Creating School Cultures That Embrace Learning: What Successful Leaders Do” Some school cultures are hostile to student learning, students, parents and staff. We sent surveys to 300 high performing, high poverty, high minority schools and asked their leaders how were they able to take their toxic learning environments and transform them into high performing schools. The backbone of the book is their responses. It is the second book in a series of three. I have been honored to have written it with two superb co-authors, Dr. Tony Thacker and John S. Bell both from the Alabama Department of Education. To those of you who have read our first book, “From At-Risk to Academic Excellence: What Successful Leaders Do”, this book is even more forceful and powerful. You can order copies from: http://www.eyeoneducation.com/prodinfo.asp?number=7098-3
Here is Chapter One from the book Creating School Cultures That Embrace Learning: What Successful Leaders Do

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