The classroom you will walk into in August will not come with bullyproofing, nor will a required anti-bullying curriculum necessarily do the job. But the last line of Caltha Crowe’s new book, How to Bullyproof Your Classroom, captures the essence of what it requires of a teacher to take on this task:
“Only a climate of courage and kindness can truly solve the problem of bullying.”
From page one and for 230 pages, this master teacher talks teacher-to-teacher about what it does require to prevent bullying and what to do when you think you have spotted its beginnings in your students’ behaviors. Caltha Crowe writes from the experience of her own lengthy career as an elementary classroom teacher. Behaviors that lead to bullying are nothing new, nor are the principles and strategies needed to create clear expectations and model and teach children how to get along in academic and social interactions over a school year. Crowe, however, lays these out with uncompromising candor and in ways that let teachers know they are being given a roadmap they can follow . . . for real.
“A key to a strong community,” Crowe writes, “is that all students are willing to work with every other student in a respectful way. Whether it’s working with one other partner or in a small group, children need to know how to work together cooperatively if a climate of kindness and inclusion is to prevail in the classroom. However, it’s not enough to simply group children together and expect them to work collaboratively. In fact, in classrooms where the teacher does not provide sufficient attention to the composition and functioning of cooperative groups, bullying increases.”
We hear her non-negotiables; it’s not that children need to be willing to work with some or most other children in a respectful way; it’s key that they can do it with every other student. She then spells out literally dozens of strategies that make this possible, from teaching students listening skills to doing interactive modeling in academic lessons, from holding class morning meetings and teaching transition activities to communicating with parents about classroom goals and rules.
You will also find five primary grade and five upper grade lessons and amazing children’s literature recommendations. These alone are worth the price of admission, but every chapter has something of value for you.
Of course, there are a glut of books and programs out on the market right now responding to the nation’s concern about bullying in and out of schools, but, to me, Caltha Crowe’s book stands out from the rest.
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