GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., Oct. 13, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- School leaders from National Heritage Academies (NHA), are working to find creative solutions to combat bullying as students continue to learn in nontraditional learning spaces. Teachers from across the organization encourage their students to think outside of the box when it comes to bullying. With a bit of encouragement, one fifth-grade student from Buffalo United Charter School recently published a book, "A Slimetastic Day," that aims to tackle bullying and challenges with others head-on.
As students continue their education in an online space due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, bullying can often be exacerbated in ways that are difficult to detect. With additional technological resources at kids' fingertips, including chatrooms, direct messages, and text messages, students may be at heightened risk to experience negative behavior.
To create a level playing ground for all students to minimize this challenge, Rukshana Illahi, director of special education at NHA, recommends that teachers encourage students to create a structured space for learning. She suggests that students choose a blank space somewhere with limited distractions. By being aware of their surroundings, students limit what is unintentionally shared with their peers, helping to establish norms similar to a traditional classroom.
"When in a classroom, we create norms and expectations for how kids treat one another. Even though students aren't in a physical classroom, they are in a virtual classroom, the same rules apply. It's important for teachers to establish what the norms are," she said.
Illahi also suggests that teachers establish virtual classroom contracts that outline expectations and norms for students to follow in an online learning space. Classroom contracts outline the values that students are expected to uphold in treating each other with kindness and respect. Social contracts may include the Golden Rule, treating others the way you want to be treated, and being considerate of one another's feelings.
Students at NHA schools across the country are given an outlet to report bullying behavior safely and securely even in a remote environment. Staff also is trained to respond to student behavior and keep a watchful eye.
About National Heritage Academies: National Heritage Academies is a network of 89 tuition-free, public charter schools across nine states, serving more than 60,000 students in kindergarten through eighth grade. For more information, visit nhaschools.com.