How do teachers deal with angry students

Bullying: Here's How You Can Intervene As A Teacher

Most teachers are unsure when the line of bullying is crossed. In general, individual attacks turn into bullying if they are regularly committed over a longer period of time - i.e. (several times) a week - against a certain person who cannot defend himself. Of course, this definition does not allow you to make a 100% reliable diagnosis in practice - and that is exactly what makes things seemingly difficult.

It is actually very simple: "If there is suspicion of bullying, take a look at bullying interventions", is the simple formula. The question of whether it is actually bullying is not decisive at all. Ultimately, the fact that you even think about it shows that one of your students is obviously doing badly - and that's why you should take action.

It is obvious: do not ignore the problems or trivialize the situation. Take the matter and the students seriously and don't pull yourself off with a succinct "Take it off!" on the affair. But blind activism does not help either. To avoid making things worse, despite your good intentions, avoid publicly blaming yourself and do not take sides. Remain as impartial as possible and avoid swinging the "moral club".

Make a well-founded plan, instead of taking action on the instinct, and discuss the steps with those affected (victims of bullying, colleagues, headmasters ...). Avoid discussing the matter with the class in the bullied person's absence and do not impose blanket sanctions that punish all but the victim of the attack. In addition, do not try to arouse pity or emphasize the particular need for help of the bullied. You should not discuss a specific case with the class either. So what options do you have?

From educational intervention to mediation, the No Blame Approach and the Farsta method to legal action and a victim-offender settlement, there are various approaches that can be used - depending on the degree of escalation and resources. In the following, we will concentrate on the pedagogical intervention options and thus more or less on your repertoire as a teacher.

The school bullying intervention is ultimately based primarily on the following pillars:

  • Strategy of looking,
  • Cooperation with colleagues,
  • Setting boundaries and discussions.

A rough tone and stupid sayings are often quite normal for young people. If you suspect bullying in particular, you must not allow pejorative treatment to become the norm in your lessons. With angry reactions or top teacher-like nudging, you will hardly find access to the students. Instead, set stop signals by using I-messages at the appeal level:

  • "I do not tolerate such words in my class."
  • Leave no room for objection or discussion: "I don't care how others handle this, I don't want to hear something like that here."
  • "I don't want you to treat each other like that."
  • "I want everyone to be able to express themselves without being attacked or laughed at."
  • "If you behave like this elsewhere, I can't prevent it. But I won't tolerate it here."

Keep calm, but be determined. Do not blame anyone and explicitly criticize one behavior at a time, not one person. Give the class a few seconds to let your statements sag. If necessary, make sure you've been heard. After a few seconds, you will continue with the lesson.

Exercises, guidelines and training concepts for a new school culture

Learn more

Conversations with the bullied, the bullied, but also the parents can be useful. Before each conversation you should prepare yourself (mentally) so that you are actually ready. You should definitely avoid time pressure, so plan a sufficiently large time window and make sure that you are in a safe place. A calm, undisturbed atmosphere is important, as is confidentiality and a sensitive approach. Don't fall in with the door: a little small talk will help you arrive and engage in the conversation. However, do not keep your interlocutor in suspense for too long - after all, students (and parents too) are always excited or even afraid of what to expect.

Always get permission from the victim of bullying for any action you want to take so as not to make them feel faint. Listen, take the student seriously, and explain your approaches. If he is completely against a certain measure, accept that. Should you not be able to leave his no standing in an absolute emergency, you should absolutely avoid acting behind the back of the student. Instead, explain to them why you need to take action. It is similar with confidentiality. It usually helps the bullied to open up and talk to you. Over time, however, the promise of confidentiality can collide with the parents' right to information. If the student does not give you permission to speak, you are of course in a quandary, especially since the parents' involvement is often important for sustainable solutions. If you can no longer remain silent, speak to the student here as well and explain to him why a parenting interview is absolutely necessary. In no case should you secretly turn to parents.

To counteract the power imbalance and isolation of the bullied, a helper system can also be a good approach. Is there a friend or supporter in the class? Then you should include him in the conversation. Like the victim of bullying, listen to him and ask for his ideas. Be careful not to overwhelm the student. Hold back with your own suggestions and rather specify your friend's ideas together. The possibilities are diverse - from "We do more together in our free time." on "We spend the break together more often." to "If something violent happens, I tell the class teacher." (For the latter, the bullied must of course first consent). Older students can also support younger students as mentors, buddies or sponsors. In coordination with the victim of bullying, they can act, for example, as a reference person, as a break contact or as a companion on the way to school.

Stay in contact with the bullied, even if he behaves negatively: "Every conversation is a support." Ideally, however, you don't make yourself a lone fighter, but bring the "class team", i.e. your colleagues, on board. The more colleagues pull together, the better the "culture of looking" can be established. A parents' evening on the topic can also be useful - the more stakeholders are made aware of the issue, the less likely it is to be bullying at school.

Violence is not a means
They test effective measures to prevent, contain and reduce violence and bullying. You will learn how you as a staff can contribute to de-escalation through the consistent dual strategy "soft on people and tough on the matter".

Solution-oriented communication and action
You will become fit for solution-oriented, appreciative communication in conflict situations. You will also learn how to respond to criticism and how to react to "killer phrases" in a friendly and constructive manner.