Voices in Education

From Chaos to Calm - "In the Moment" Strategies to Stop Bullying in its Tracks

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According to my district's compliance video, pre-kindergarten is excluded from the bullying and cyberbullying laws if the behavior is being addressed through measures intended to modify the behavior. Pre-K behavior needs to be handled in the classroom as it is happening. It starts with simple classroom rules that include keeping ourselves safe, keeping friends safe and keeping our things safe. These should be presented with positive behavior examples. That is followed by simple guidelines for what to do if you have a problem. We use the Teacher Assistance Center on Social Emotional Intervention (TACSEI) problem-solving materials and have heard that Sanford Harmony's Super Friend series is very good.  

Communication is Key 

A wise teacher once told me that all behavior is communication. Take the time to observe the child who is instigating the problem. Talk with their family to learn about their home life. What need is being met by the behavior? Then, look for the antecedent. What triggers the behavior?  Does it happen in a specific place or time of the day? Address the triggers if possible. Keep communicating about what peer interaction should be. Use books, videos, puppets, whatever you have. A teacher recently shared the PK Social Skills videos from PlayKids on YouTube.com as well as the Jack Hartmann, Be A Super Hero! video.  Focus on the positive behavior that you want to see, not the incorrect behavior. Present those things to the whole group and encourage students to tell a teacher if someone needs help being a friend.

Be Ready with Mindfulness Techniques 

Unfortunately, we are seeing a lot of angry little ones. Mindfulness techniques are great for teaching kids to calm their bodies. At a recent PBS Edcamp, teachers were talking about some resources that could help including calm.com and the Daniel Tiger's Grr-ific Feelings app.  Cara's Kit is a book with transition strategies that might help as that is often where problems happen.  Kids also need to know it is okay to feel bad. We need to give them a way to communicate those feelings, a safe space to feel bad and teach them appropriate ways to handle those kinds of strong emotions.

In Pre-K,  there can be times when kids group together and exclude others. I have used friend pairing to counteract that problem. I pair the students and have them eat, sit and play together for a couple days. Then I change the pairs. I include some free choice friend days, but I will continue pairing if they form a clique again.

By incorporating these techniques in the classroom we can help our littles process their emotions and be kind to one another. 

Angela Hamilton

Angela Hamilton Pre-K Teacher

Angela Hamilton—with experience in computer network and programming, family engagement facilitation, and pre-K teaching—is an educator making a difference at Harris Elementary School and beyond. She is a skilled, genuine, and engaging professional whose knowledge and dedication truly shine through in all her efforts. 

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