Practical strategies for positive change

Crayons as symbol for diversity• Pay attention to peer-to-peer interactions. Increase awareness, advocacy, and a willingness to take immediate, positive action (regarding how kids treat one another).

• Advocate for the underdog. Encourage kids to connect with children who seem isolated. Emphasize the value of inclusion.

• Interrupt any instances of meanness, name calling, teasing, deliberate exclusion, or physical or emotional violence. Simply (and calmly) noting that “we don’t do that here” or “we don’t use that word in this class” gives the message of inappropriateness without attacking the student.

• Use conflicts as opportunities to teach, build interactive skills, and positive attitudes and beliefs about others (rather than simply punishing violators).

• Build problem solving skills. (Ask questions instead of giving advice. Guide students to formulating their own solutions to problems and help them anticipate probable outcomes and alternatives.)

• Build social skills or friendship skills as needed. Many children don’t come equipped with the skills necessary to bond and interact positively with one another.

• Build emotional intelligence, resilience, and self-control.

• Teach conflict resolution strategies that are based on win-win principles. Help children consider the question, “How can we both (or all) get what we want” to seek solutions that honor the needs of everyone involved.

• Model tolerance and respect (avoid double standards).

• Work to deglamorize and eliminate elitist status of certain students over others. (Value all students, holding a wider range of possible contributions in high regard.)

• Provide opportunities for service for all students. Often the weakest students (behaviorally and academically) perform extremely well in this role and likewise show the greatest growth from participation in peer-helping programs.

Remember, we don’t teach tolerance by punishing intolerance.

Excerpted and adapted from The Win-Win Classroom, by Dr. Jane Bluestein © 2008, Corwin Publishing, Thousand Oaks, CA.

Related links:

Stressful or Painful School Experiences that can affect learning and behavior in negative ways
Rules and Boundaries
Guidelines for Reinforcing Positive Student Behavior
Teacher Self-Assessment
Dealing Successfully with your Students’ Parents
Getting Away with Success
Handling Negative Student Behavior
Industrial Age vs. Information Age Classrooms
Guidelines for Offering Choices
Behavior Management: Intervention Strategies
Win-Win Ideas for Administrators

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