An analysis of our core curriculum results report was conducted to ensure that our goals were relevant and targeted in developmentally appropriate lessons that enhanced student achievement and data was disaggregated to evaluate the effectiveness of our anti-bullying/citizenship lessons in order to improve, change or make modifications in our curriculum. We selected three lessons based on a number of factors including their alignment to the ASCA Mindsets and Behaviors, our vision that every student develop a sense of respect for individual rights of others while developing their own sense of self, our program goals to reduce the number of discipline referrals and finally, input from our stakeholders who recommended that we provide bullying prevention lessons and promote anti-bullying behavior at Southwood Middle School. Selecting one lesson for all students in each grade level provided the counselors with the opportunity to deliver equitable support to every student and allowed all students the chance to learn bullying prevention strategies that support student success.
The grade six lesson focused on promoting responsible and respectful behavior in the classroom, school and community. The data shows that classroom lessons were extremely beneficial. Students learned the expectations and norms to participate appropriately in an online community; perception data shows that student perception regarding the definition of digital citizenship increased from an average of 1.2 to 3.8 on a 4 point Likert Scale.
The objective of the seventh grade lesson plan was to teach students the difference between being a passive bystander versus an upstander in bullying situations. Perception data indicated the lesson was very effective. At the end of the activity an average of 100% of students knew what it meant to be brave and how to stand-up for others; this was an overall increase of 74% when comparing pre and post perception data questions.
Eighth grade lessons were presented to teach students to learn to distinguish good-natured teasing from bullying and what they can do about it. Perception data results were quite encouraging as prior to lesson delivery only 6% of students believed that they had little understanding regarding when inappropriate behavior crosses the line to bullying and what strategies can be used to stop it. However, post-lesson data revealed that 100% of students answered “yes” to understanding the perception questions.
As detailed in our School Counseling Core Curriculum Results Report, outcome data showed a continual decrease in reports/referrals each nine weeks as anti-bullying lessons were delivered at each grade level. Providing all students with the opportunity to collaboratively discuss their knowledge and perspectives about bullying and identifying concrete solutions for handling bullying situations is an important step in fostering a safe and caring school and community.
The results regarding the effectiveness of these lessons cannot be underestimated and will drive the focus of our core curriculum lessons in the future. We believe that by expanding the curriculum across all grade levels and subjects, educating faculty/staff and engaging parents/guardians in anti-bullying efforts we will impact the entire school culture and community. Specifically, we will ensure that we are delivering a comprehensive anti-bullying program by training all teachers, administrators, and staff to model and reinforce positive behavior as well as delivering parent/guardian education about topics including online social media and encouraging them to talk to their children about bullying prevention.
Research consistently affirms that bullying is one of the most frequently reported discipline problems in middle school. Although this was the rationale we used to analyze discipline referrals as our outcome data point, next year the counselors will track grades and attendance data too. During our program planning time at the end of the year, the counselors talked about our outcome data which prompted a conversation about the correlation between bullying and student achievement. We believe that by tracking various warning signs (attendance, grades and suspensions) it will aid us in identifying students who may be victims of bullying but are too intimidated or scared to come forward. This will allow us to more quickly identify and help students to make certain that bullying stops and that every student feels safe, which are key components of our vision and mission statement.