Today’s article is excerpted from my book School Mobbing and Emotional Abuse: See It Stop It Prevent It with Dignity and Respect. The book is available from Amazon and other online retailers. To order directly from the publisher contact taylorandfrancis.com
©2003 Gail Pursell Elliott
Teachers can establish clear lines of conduct in terms of dignity and respect without being heavy handed, then model that behavior in front of students for the time that the students are in the classroom. Regardless of what may occur elsewhere on campus, “We don’t do that here.” This creates a safe zone in which expectations are clear. It is important that this is reinforced consistently rather than sporadically or in a piecemeal fashion.
Most teachers, as well as other adults, are accidental mentors. In other words, they are teaching more than the subject. Mentoring is rather like diversity, it is part of life whether we recognize it or not. There are plenty of programs these days that promote formalized mentoring. It’s become a buzzword for positive youth programs and the concept is great. But it’s also nothing new – it has just been given a name and a formal structure.
We are continually being encountered, overheard, and observed by others, setting an example, perhaps giving people ideas or arousing suspicion, planting all sorts of seeds. We can be either a good example or a good example of a bad example. Teachers have a tremendous impact with their attitudes towards students. And each student will react differently to negative communication. One student may take it as a challenge while another will be crushed. Regardless of the reaction, all will take communication very personally.
The more classrooms that are safe zones when it comes to conduct, the more the behavior has an opportunity to be practiced and extend itself to other situations. Before this can happen, however, it is necessary that people see each other as human beings with wants, hopes, needs, dreams and desires. Most people, regardless of age, do not feel comfortable intentionally engaging in behavior that is harmful to another person. When people lash out or treat each other in harmful ways they often either lose sight of this truth or they block it so that they can react to what that person represents to them. Creating a safe zone makes it safe for everyone.
Reacting in a heavy-handed manner does little beyond addressing immediate behavior. What is necessary is insight and awareness. Then changes in both attitude and behavior can be the personal decisions that they are intended to be.
Have a great day and be good to yourself and those you encouter. You all deserve it!
Gail Pursell Elliott, “The Dignity and Respect Lady”, has over 20 years experience in middle and upper management, founded Innovations Training in 1998, and is author of several books including School Mobbing and Emotional Abuse and co-author of the book Mobbing: Emotional Abuse in the American Workplace. Her weekly Food for Thought is read by people around the world. Gail trains employees for corporations, associations and universities, designs sessions upon request to address specific needs and timely i! ssues, and is a featured speaker at conferences as well as a sought after media expert on workplace and school violence. Gail has been a guest on such programs as MSNBC’s Deborah Norville Tonight, ABC World News NOW television programs and the Workplace Violence Today program on talk radio.
Gail Pursell Elliott, The Dignity and Respect Lady
Mobbing, Bullying and Harassment Expert
Human Relations Consultant
Innovations “Training With a Can-Do Attitude”
“To be nobody but yourself – in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you like everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight – and never stop fighting.” – e.e. cummings