On Wednesday, November 6th I observed the hashtag #PTChat, which stands for Parent-Teacher Chat. Much to my merriment, this chat was alive and well and had a great turn out. I was relieved to step out of the academic playing field for just a bit, because the theme of the night was about bullying. Instead of focusing on academic achievement or learning INSIDE the classroom, this topic introduces one of the major parts of teaching OUTSIDE the classroom. As teachers, we will face situations in which a kid who is bullied comes to us for help, so I was very interested in seeing what this chat had to offer. Unfortunately, there were no links shared throughout the night because the questions were opinion-based, so instead I will try to give a brief overview of the questions asked and the most popular responses.
The first question asked was “Why don’t kids step in during a bullying situation?” Most of the replies were along the lines of “They are scared the bullying might come to them next”. I thought that was absolutely true, and, having been in that situation myself, I can attest to it. The best part about these responses is that the answers were coming from both teachers and parents who participated in the chat. It was great to see that parents are getting involved in their children’s school life.
The second question was “What do adults need to do to help encourage more student bystanders to ‘step up’ during these situations?” The majority of the replies said that adults need to model the behavior they expect from their students/children. This is great advice and it’s something I can take into the school setting with me when I teach. Hall monitoring is a part of the teacher’s criteria, so I should plan to model the “superhero” persona kids would expect of me.
The third question was about what the KIDS say about how to stop bullying. The responses most people gave were that children really need adult feedback and instruction. We not only need to model, but give specific directions and advice. They also suggested forming focus groups to tackle these sorts of issues. Most kids know to stop bullying, but they don’t know HOW to stop bullying, so that is something I can hope to personify with my time as a teacher.
The fourth question asked What strategies actually worked to help prevent bullying. All of the answers had to do with “climate” or overall school awareness of bullying. Creating a sense of community in the school can help to make sure every student and faculty members know that everyone is on each other’s side. I sincerely hope I get to teach in a school with that mindset.
The last question of the evening was, “How can we switch the norms so kids know it’s better to be kind than cruel?”. The answers came around full-circle, since the majority of the people went back to modeling. Therefore, the overall theme of the chat was to model the behavior you wish to see out of your children and students, and we can have a healthy school community.
These are the five people I chose to follow:
1. @Joe_Mazza – Joe Mazza. He was the head moderator of the chat and had so many great, reassuring responses to people’s answers.
2. @TonySinanis – Tony Sinanis. He was the moderator’s assistant during the chat, and he too was giving positive responses to everything people had to say. The two moderators worked very hard to make sure everyone felt involved in the chat.
3. @micheleborba – Dr. Michele Borba. She was present at the chat and she is an author and a keynote speaker, and has been on various TV programs such as CNN and The View to discuss her feelings on bully prevention.
4. @rggillespie – Reed Gillespie. He is an assistant principal in Virginia, so he deals with bullying situations all of the time, I’m sure. His answers and contributions were very insightful and helpful.
5. @JoyWright91 – Joy Wright. She is a middle school principal and spent the chat answering questions and giving her feedback on other’s responses.