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Re-thinking effective bully and violence prevention efforts: Promoting healthy school climates, prosocial education, and preventing bully-victim-bystander.

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Presentation on theme: "Re-thinking effective bully and violence prevention efforts: Promoting healthy school climates, prosocial education, and preventing bully-victim-bystander."— Presentation transcript:

1 Re-thinking effective bully and violence prevention efforts: Promoting healthy school climates, prosocial education, and preventing bully-victim-bystander behavior Jonathan Cohen, Ph.D. National School Climate Center: Educating minds and hearts … Because the three R’s are not enough; School Mental Health in a Changing Environment American Association of Adolescent Psychiatry The Grand Historic Venue - 225 North Charles Street, Baltimore, Md. 21201 March 28, 2014

2 Goals:   To consider current bully prevention trends and their impact   To consider effective bully prevention efforts that support a school wide effort that promote health and positive change as well as addressing problems/primary prevention   To reflect on the paradoxical nature of school climate policy and practice trends   To support your considering “next steps” that build on current efforts that support safe schools and student learning

3 Acknowledgments: Edward William Gutgsell & Jane Marr Gutgsell Endowed Professor, Hardie Professor of Education, University Scholar Dorothy Espelage, Ph.D. - Edward William Gutgsell & Jane Marr Gutgsell Endowed Professor, Hardie Professor of Education, University Scholar, University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign; Co-Editor (2011) Bullying in North American schools. (New York: Routledge) Stuart W. Twemlow, MD - Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Menninger Department of Psychiatry Baylor College of Medicine Houston, Texas (Retired); Co-author (2011). Preventing Bullying and School Violence (Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press) Preventing Bullying and School Violence Marvin W. Berkowitz, Ph.D. - Sanford N. McDonnell professor of character education, co- director of the Center for Character and Citizenship, and President’s Thomas Jefferson professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Co-author, What Works In Character Education: A Research- Driven Guide for Educators James P. Comer, M.D. - Maurice Falk Professor of Child Psychiatry at the Yale Child Study Center and Associate Dean at the Yale School of Medicine. Author. Leave no child behind: Preparing today’s youth for tomorrow’s world. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Yale Child Study CenterAssociate DeanYale School of Medicine

4 Current bully prevention trends: Policy trends: 49 States now have anti bullying laws Two thirds of these laws focus on two major – and ultimately unhelpful -- goals: identifying the bully and punishing the bully Practice efforts today: Targeted bully prevention efforts and/or curricular based = Only marginally helpful! Growing interest in school climate reform as an evidence based strategy that recognizes the prosocial aspects of learning and mobilizes the “whole village” to support the “whole child”

5 School Climate Research I. I.Individual Experience : Promoting a positive school climate effects students’ self-esteem and self-concept. II. II.Risk Prevention and Health Promotion : Effective risk prevention and health promotion efforts are positively correlated with safe, caring, participatory and responsive school climate settings. III. III.Academic Achievement : Student academic achievement is strongly correlated to a safe, caring and responsive school climate setting. Positive reinforcement and attentiveness improves student performance. IV. IV.Teacher Retention : Positive school climate is associated with greater teacher retention. (For a summary of this research, see: Thapa, Cohen, Guffey & Higgins-D'Alessandro (2013). A Review of School Climate Research, Review of Educational Research, DOI: 10.3102/0034654313483907.)

6 what really helps to foster school reform? Understandings shape Goals, which in turn suggest Methods we use to actualize our goals. The old fashioned problem solving cycle

7 School Improvement Research: helpful and less helpful “Drivers” of change* Unhelpful Primary Drivers: 1) 1)Accountability systems that use data as a “hammer” rather than a “flashlight” 2) 2)Primary focus on the individual teacher and/or administrator 3) 3)Technology 4) 4)Specific “evidence-based” programs Helpful Primary Drivers 1)Fostering the intrinsic motivation of students, parents and school personnel: “igniting” the process 2)Engaging students & educators in a continuous process of social- emotional & civic as well as intellectual learning 3)Inspiring team work and a collaborative problem solving process 4)Affecting the whole community * Bryk, et. al. 2002 & 2010; Fullan, 2011; Mourshed, Chijioke & Barber, 2010; Tucker 2011.

8 Effective bully prevention Based on three understandings: (1) (1) Principals, teachers, students, parents/guardians as co-learners and co- leaders: Igniting intrinsic motivation to learn and work together (2) (2) Comprehensive school climate reform rather than targeted approaches (3) (3) Bullying is fundamentally a social process not an individual problem

9 Five essential Processes to support Positive school climate reform efforts (1) (1) Educational leadership (2) (2) Engaging the whole school community (3) (3) Assessment (4) (4) Policy (5) (5) Practice: Three overlapping efforts

10 Five essential Processes (1) Educational Leadership Principals, teachers, students, parents/guardians as co- learners and co-leaders The Principal is the “captain of the ship” On the role and power of student co-leadership Upstander Alliance: Teachers Teachers as systemic change agents: Beginning with classroom management Parents/guardians Community members/leaders

11 Five essential Processes (2) Engaging the whole school community (1) (1) An essential goal (2) (2) Challenging! Policy challenges   Exclusive focus on student cognitive learning alone   Punitive and undermining a continuous process of learning and improvement Practical challenges   Scary for school leaders!   Lacking clarity about what to do on a day-to-day and week-to-week basis

12 Five essential Processes (3) Assessment (1) (1)Comprehensive School Climate Surveys Recognizing student, parent/guardian, school personal and even community “voice” An engagement strategy as well as a establishing baselines A Community Scale & Promoting School-Community Partnerships (2) Readiness Assessments (3) Process or “end of stage” assessments (4) Specific bully-victim-bystander measures

13 Five essential Processes (4) Policy In theory, research shapes policy which in turn dictate practice Current bully prevention and school climate policy What is an effective school climate improvement process?

14 School climate improvement process (National School Climate Council, 2007; 2012) Under the leadership of the Principals, supporting students, parents/guardians, school personnel and community members: 1) Developing a shared vision about our school 2) Understanding/evaluating current strengths and needs 3) Developing goals: Systemic, instructional and other wise 4) Implementing them 5) Learning from experience and revising goals

15 The School Climate Improvement Process: A democratically informed continuous process of learning and improvement

16 Five essential Processes (5) Practice Three overlapping processes: (1) School wide (e.g. social norms? What is measured?) (2) Teaching and learning (3) Relationship and “management” practices School Climate Resource Center:

17 Practice School wide What is measured? And how is this data used (e.g. as a “flashlight” or a “hammer”?) Whose “voice” is recognized and honored? What are our codes of conduct, rules and social norms? Expectations? Leadership/followership styles? Rituals?

18 Practice (cont.) Teaching and learning Being a living example Classroom management/discipline Teaching strategies (cooperative learning; conflict resolution; service learning; moral dilemma discussions) Prosocial curriculum (social emotional learning, character education and/or mental health promotion efforts)

19 Practice (cont.) Relationship and “management” practices What to do in the moment and right after an instance of bully-victim-witness behavior? How do we “connect” with one another? Educator-mental health-parent/guardian partnerships

20 A paradox: School Climate Reform A paradox: School Climate Reform   Growing recognition and support from: Federal agencies: US DOE, Justice, CDC, SAMPSA & IES State Departments of Education Districts: from Westbrook, Connecticut to Chicago   Great need for practice and policy guidelines

21 PBIS & School Climate process: Similar and/or different? Overlapping and complimentary efforts: Overlapping and complimentary efforts: PBIS & School Climate Reform Similarities 1)School wide efforts; 2)Supporting positive change; 3)Supporting student learning; 4)Supporting student-family- educator and community partnerships; 5)Data driven; 6)Appreciate that adult behavior and “adult modeling” matters: and 7)Focused on advancing policies and procedures that support effective practice. Differences 1)Goals; 2)Different data sets; 3)Behaviorally informed model that is focused on student problems vs. a intrinsically grounded motivational model focused on school wide, instructional and one-on-one coordinated efforts; 4)Adult driven vs. community driven; 5)School Climate Reform – grounded in adult learning & PLC’s

22 Barriers and Challenges   Concern about and exclusive focus on the cognitive aspects of learning and teaching   Confusion about school climate reform and/or PBIS   Current educational accountability systems are punitive and – inadvertently – undermine a long term view and commitment to continuous improvement   School leaders who are: Reactive (rather than pro-active); Anxious about being attacked; and/or Not sure what to focus on to support an effective school climate improvement process.

23 Next steps? For you and your school community?

24 Thank you! Jonathan Cohen President, National School Climate Center (NSCC) Adjunct Professor in Psychology and Education, Teachers College, Columbia (212) 707-8799 (

25 Resources National School Climate Center: Research summaries, policy guidelines, assessment tools, school climate improvement “road maps” and student engagement/leadership opportunities Safe and Supportive Schools: Character Education Partnership: CASEL:

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