In the classroom

Whole-school approaches to responding to bullying and supporting diversity in the classroom.

Whole-school culture and classroom climate

It is important for everyone in a school to work together to develop a positive school culture that consistently reinforces the message that bullying is never acceptable.

Teachers play a vital role by creating a safe, respectful, welcoming and supportive classroom environment. This helps to reduce the likelihood of bullying behaviour.

Bullying is also reduced by explicitly teaching students safe and effective ways to respond if and when it occurs.

Teaching about bullying in the classroom

Teaching about bullying should be part of a comprehensive and coordinated whole-school approach. Bullying can be addressed by teaching students about:

  • feelings
  • positive social interaction
  • diversity
  • discrimination
  • power
  • conflict.

Bullying. No Way! provides a series of lesson plans and discussion starters that can help.

Social and emotional learning

Social and emotional learning can help students develop the understandings, strategies and skills they need to:

  • foster a positive sense of self
  • promote respectful relationships
  • build their capacity to manage their emotions, behaviours and interactions with others.

Research shows that teaching specific social and emotional skills across curriculum areas enhances existing skills and promotes new skills.

There are five broad areas of social and emotional learning:

Recognising and understanding our feelings and our strengths.

Regulating and expressing our emotions appropriately.

Understanding what others are feeling, being able to take their perspective, and appreciating and interacting positively with diverse groups.

Establishing and maintaining healthy relationships, constructively resolving interpersonal conflict and seeking help when needed.

Being aware of the consequences for ourselves and others when we make decisions.

These areas relate to the Personal and Social Capabilities in the Australian Curriculum.

By looking for opportunities to introduce and reinforce positive behaviours in the classroom, students can be encouraged to practise skills such as working collaboratively, showing respect for others and managing their emotions and behaviours.

Supporting diversity in the classroom

A supportive and connected school culture is respectful of diversity. It helps all members of the school community feel connected, welcomed and valued. These include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, students with disabilities and students with language backgrounds other than English. It also includes students from communities with low socioeconomic status, students from rural and remote areas, refugees, those at risk of disengaging from school and students who can be disadvantaged by various forms of gender stereotyping.

Teachers can help build a culture of cooperation and collaboration amongst students in their classrooms by incorporating activities that develop positive relationships, such as getting to know each other activities and small group activities.

Educators can also provide opportunities for positive interactions between students during curriculum tasks by using processes such as inquiry-based learning.

Professional learning and resources

KidsMatter, a mental health and wellbeing framework for primary schools, provides a comprehensive description of social and emotional learning.

MindMatters, a mental health and wellbeing framework for secondary schools, includes a series of teaching modules called student skills for resilience which explore the capacity of young people to cope with stressors in their lives through learning social and emotional skills.

The Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) has information and resources on social and emotional learning including professional development resources.

The NSW Department of Education’s Personal Development Health and Physical Education (PDHPE) teaching strategies resource details six classroom strategies that involve active participation and interactive learning approaches.

Some of this content has been adapted and reproduced with permission from Bullying. No Way!

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