I was recently talking to our behavior specialist about my theory that you could incorporate dog training techniques into classroom and behavior management. She didn't laugh, in fact she agreed. We discussed the idea that classroom are much like packs. You have the dominant dogs as well as the submissives, that much like a pack there will be a student (or students) fighting for their role as alpha (much to the dismay of the teacher.)
In a pack dogs are looking to understand where they fit, similar to our students. Where do they sit at lunch? Who do they hang out with? In a group who is the leader and who are the followers? Watching our students interact with each other isn't too much different from watching a group of dogs get together, except there is no name calling.
What does this have to do with bullying? I can't tell you how many times I get a "bullying" report from a parent or student that is actually not bullying. The most common scenario is this:
Three girls: Girl A is friends with Girl B and Girl C, but Girl B and Girl C do not get along. So Girl A and B get along fine, Girl A and C get along fine, but B and C not so much. This means when all three get together there are fireworks. This normally means Girl A gets put in the middle, trying to figure out her role. Should she be a peacemaker and encourage everyone to "just get along?" How should she divide her time? If she doesn't divide it equal an encore of fireworks. Similar Girls B and C are fighting for her attention, each one trying to dominate.
This is not bullying, and yet I get the "bullying report" weekly. So right now I am working with my fourth grade students to discuss what is bullying and what is simply students trying to work out group dynamics.
To tackle this issue I came up with a three part plan.
First, I am going into the classroom to do a seminar with my students on "what is bullying and what is not?" I gave them a list of scenarios and asked them to discuss as small and then large group. (I wish I had a video of this discussion because it was unbelievable- also I found my alpha, a young man who would "interrupt" and assert his dominance by talking over everyone and if they tried to stop him he just got louder.)
I put the survey on my website so parents and students in other grades coud take it together.
Next, I sent home follow up information with my students to share with their parents.
Lastly, I will host a parent workshop on bullying. I am asking one of our counselors/school psychologists who has received Olweus training to be our speaker.
Bullying is a serious issue, but in my school it's a buzz word that is being overused. I am hoping my three part plan will help my students understand what bullying really is.
On a side note, I hung out with the best dog ever this weekend. Sweet, calm, loves children, well behaved and well mannered. His name is Mike and some might say he is a bully breed. I saw he is a sweet heart breed. He also needs a home! If you or anyone you know want to adopt this handsome man please contact Nashville Pittie.