School violence is among the leading concerns for both veteran and new teachers. In the majority of instances, it has been established that other students are almost always aware of their schoolmates’ plans to cause violence. Studies reveal that 4 out of 10 teachers have experienced some form of violence in the hand of their pupils in the past. It is, therefore, imperative that teachers tap into the available resources in preventing as far as possible, acts of violence within their schools as explained below.
Taking Responsibility both Inside the Classroom and Beyond
Although a majority of teachers are often keen on what goes on in their classrooms, they rarely take time to involve themselves with the occurrences beyond the walls. As a teacher, it would be prudent to monitor the halls in-between classes and keeping ears and eyes open. This way, you could learn a lot about the students while at the same time enforce the school’s policy. In the event that you come across a group of students teasing or cursing another, ensure that you say something to stop them and subsequently report the incident to the principal. Also, ensure to promptly report any sign of gang activity or any discussion of weapons among other activities that could incite or encourage violence.
Refusing to Entertain Stereotyping and Prejudice in the Classroom
Setting norms for behaviour in your classroom could go a long way in deterring violence. This is preferably accomplished on the first day; involve the students in establishing penalties and enforcing the rules. Start by coming down hard on any student who uses stereotypes when referring to a group of people or makes prejudiced utterances or comments against others, including you. Make it clear that your classroom and the entire school is a safe place for thought and positive discussion.
Paying Attention to Idle Chatter
Making a point to listen to your students as they are chatting amongst themselves will help you to recognise the warning signs when a pupil is headed for violence. Students shouldn’t have or even expect to be accorded a right to privacy while in your classroom. Previous occurrences around the world indicate that some students know when other pupils are planning acts of violence. It is, therefore, essential to take note of anything that puts up a red flag so that you may employ the school resources in accessing the appropriate help.
Actively Participating in the Student-Led Anti-Violence Organizations
It is highly advisable that you encourage and sponsor student-led antiviolence programs. If your school doesn’t have one, you could investigate and assist in creating one. Most importantly, mobilise your students to participate in such programs, which could range from peer education, mediation, and teen courts to mentoring and training. This could greatly influence their activities and help in preventing violence.
Learning to Identify the Main Danger Signs
Educating yourself on the many warning signs that could manifest prior to the occurrence of the actual acts of school violence is very crucial. Most of these signs are well illustrated in the school safety guidelines that are available online; they include:
- Obsession with violent games
- Apparent lack of learning interest
- Writing displaying feelings of despair and isolation
- Mood swings, depression, and suicidal tendencies
- Constant discussions about bringing weapons to school and having no fear of death
- Lack of self-control and being constantly agitated
- Unexplained violence towards animals
When working in school alone, especially during irregular hours, it is important that you inform the principal of the same. You should otherwise reduce the time spent working in isolation as long as it’s reasonably practicable. Most importantly, ensure to take care of your own safety by using safe devices and messages that are specifically designed for lone workers.
Having Discussions about Violence Prevention with the Students
Sufficient communication can significantly reduce the chances of violence in your classroom. If for instance, school violence is being reviewed over the news, you could take this opportunity to bring up the subject in class tactfully. This is also when you point out the warning signs and teach your students about the appropriate course of action if they discover that someone has a weapon or is contemplating violent acts. Fortunately, combating school violence has been made easier by the availability of school safety guidelines. These are designed for facilitating the combined effort of students, teachers, parents and administrators in eliminating violence from schools.
Communicating Openly About Violence
Violence and its prevention is a subject matter that should be discussed often. This involves availing yourself and making your students realise that they can openly discuss their fears and concerns. This will go a long way in encouraging students to report crimes or activities that are indicative of looming acts of violence.
Instilling Anger Management Skills
Learning and teaching anger management and conflict resolution skills is an important step towards conflict avoidance. This is especially true if you have disagreeing students in your classroom; discuss with them about ways in which they can resolve their differences without resorting to violence. For instance, you could suggest that they practice taking a few minutes to cool off to avoid reacting violently to situations.
Involving Parents in the Process
Your efforts to develop a standard of acceptable behaviour among your pupils could prove futile if you exclude their parents from the process. For instance, your insisting that they don’t resort to teasing or name-calling could be frustrated by the failure of their parents to do the same. You should, therefore, take the initiative to constantly communicate with the parents as this will allow them to help you with addressing issues as they arise.
Teaching with Enthusiasm
If your students are almost always engaged in constructive projects and activities, they will be less likely to get involved in acts of violence. Focused pupils who are constantly absorbed in challenging, informative and rewarding work are less likely to get into trouble. Such enthusiasm will also compel you to offer and serve on a committee that is committed to developing and implementing a safe school plan. This is, in addition to enforcing school policies that essentially seek to reduce the risk of violence.
The importance of teachers recognising the warning signs of violence and having specific directions on how to prevent it cannot be overstated. It is, therefore, imperative that you access and utilise the very crucial school safety guidelines to educate yourself on the way to deal with emergencies. There is no better way of dealing with violence than creating an effective plan that can be understood and followed by all the staff members in a school.