People get bullied and don't always feel safe. It's a harsh reality of the world we live in and a hard situation for parents, educators, counselors, and school administrators to navigate. In fact, over 70 percent of young people report having seen bullying in their schools. We know what that looks like. Kids get picked last for kickball, left out of a sleepover, miss an invite to a birthday, and can be put in situations where they get embarrassed in front of their peers. These are all circumstances that can cause tears and frustration when coupled with the general stresses of school. But sometimes it's more aggressive and more harmful to student growth. This is what we, as educators, need to work together to prevent.
As a teacher and parent, I've seen firsthand the impact aggressive bullying can have and know how devastating that can be on a kiddo.
When it comes to trying to understand these challenges, I wear a couple of different hats. With my son and my nephew, I put on my mom hat, worrying about them venturing out into a world filled with a multitude of wonders, but also speckled with hardships that I can't always protect them from. On the flip side, during many years in a traditional classroom, I looked at my students from under my teacher's hat, where I worried about their ability to grow as young learners and prosper from their new knowledge, but also grappling with finding themselves as young people in new environments.
As teachers, we have a duty to each and every one of our students to do our best in helping them overcome the social emotional hurdles that may prevent them from tapping their full academic potential and, instead, providing them with the tools to thrive.
We need to work to create a positive environment where students feel safe asking questions or asking for help—essential parts of the learning process—and are not afraid of judgment or retribution from their peers. By keeping our eyes open and our ears to the ground, we can better understand what's happening among our students and find ways to not only intervene, but also to understand our students and what's contributing to problematic behavior. In my own personal experience, when students are empowered as learners and leaders, they don't have time for aggressive behavior like bullying. The most exciting part of transitioning into an online classroom was watching my students thrive without any of these challenges.
Today, I am a learning coach for ten students. My son has gained confidence and is happy, as is my nephew and the other kids in our classroom. No one is scared to go to school, scared to answer a question, scared to be fully absorbed in their learning, or worried about physical or mental challenges. With the online platform of Louisiana Virtual Cyber Academy (LAVCA), bullying, classroom disruptions, and other distractions just don't exist. My students are still interacting and socializing with other kids, but their focus is on time management, learning how to stay organized, and working collaboratively to grow. They use their classmates as resources for academic and personal growth, not as emotional or physical punching bags.
As a teacher, learning coach, and mom, there is absolutely nothing better or more exciting than watching kids thrive. For a long time, I felt like my hands were tied in supporting my kids and trying to keep fear from impeding their academic and personal growth. Today, I feel like my commitment to put my students on the path to success—without the impact of bullying—is truly possible; for me, that's all that matters.
KEYWORDS: Bullying, Learning Coaches, Student Support, Teacher Engagement, School Options