By Dr. Nicole Yetter, Educational Consultant

Classroom meetings are an avenue created by the classroom teacher to create a safe and respectful learning environment. Programs like the Olweus Bully Prevention Program aim to reduce and/or eliminate current bullying behaviors and prevent new problems from occurring within schools through a new curriculum of classroom meetings during which bullying behavior is discussed and role played. Other, bullying prevention programs, such as PBIS, have a strong basis in classroom meetings; any form of classroom meeting where bullying behavior is openly discussed will lead to an improved school environment.

One way to combat bullying/harassment in schools is by making use of the CyberBully Hotline (CBH). Teachers can utilize classroom meetings as their opportunity to introduce the CBH to the students.

Note: For users of the Olweus program, we recommend this further article on the subject.

Note: For users of the PBS program, we recommend this further article on the subject.

1. Have students sit in a circular formation so that they are able to hear and see everyone in the class. This helps to promote eye contact and feelings of inclusion.

2. Review with students the purpose of class meetings and the ground rules that they have all agreed upon.

3.Classroom meetings should be held on a regular basis, preferably weekly. Each meeting could last from 20-40 minutes depending on the age and skill level of the students. Flerx, et al., 2009 highly suggests holding the meetings at a specific time each week. This aide in development of continuity, consistency, and the idea of expectations among the group.

4. The teacher serves as the facilitator. They are responsible for reviewing the procedures, motoring student participation, leading the discussion, and keeping students on task.

5. Have a set agenda or topic for the meeting. For example, Olweus Rule #4 is, if we know that somebody is being bullied, we will tell an adult at school and an adult at home. One way we can make a report is to employ the CBH. You can call or text and anonymously report:

  • What you've seen
  • What has been done to you or someone else
  • What you've heard might be done
  • Any type of bullying, physical or verbal, face-to-face, online or through texting

Note: The teacher should share that a student's name and phone number are not shared, and encourage them to provide as much information as they feel comfortable with. Students can even engage in an ongoing dialogue or chat - all while remaining completely anonymous. And the good it can do to prevent bullying or cyberbullying is enormous.

6. The class meetings will also allow students to formulate questions and discuss problem-solving ideas. For instance:

  • Why is reporting an incident so important?
  • Why do you think students who are bullied are afraid to tell anyone?
  • Why don't bystanders (those that witness the harassment) report more often what they have witnessed?

7. Lastly, the leader of the classroom meetings will bring the meeting to a close through reflection. The teacher will summarize the discussion/activity and clearly state the solution or outcomes. This reflection allows the students to evaluate the meeting and serve to provide feedback for continual growth.

It is important to remember that these meetings need to be developmentally appropriate and be designed to foster feelings of belongingness, safety, and collaboration.

For users of the Olweus program, we recommend this further article on the subject.

For users of the PBS program, we recommend this further article on the subject.