5 Ways to Empower Students to Change School Climate

How to encourage students to take ownership of bullying prevention


Bullying has a huge impact on a school’s climate. In fact, when bullying is rampant, all students are impacted – even those who are neither victims nor bullies. In fact, when bullying is prevalent, the academic success of all students suffers tremendously.

One way to address this issue is to empower students to take control of their school’s culture and climate. Doing so will not only reduce the likelihood of bullying but also empower students to make a difference.

And when students are empowered they learn more and they better.

School administrators and teachers can empower students by making sure that addressing school climate is meaningful and important to the students. Here are five ways to empower students to change their school’s climate.

Make it meaningful. One important aspect of empowering students to change the climate at school is to make it meaningful to them. In other words, how will changing school climate impact them? For students, if the work you are asking them do doesn’t hold much meaning or any importance, then there isn’t much motivation to work hard and produce quality work. What’s more, by creating an environment where their efforts will affect other people, you can help students recognize the tremendous power they can have to make a positive impact, even while they are still students. Overall, the more impact students believe they will have on bullying at school, the more motivation they feel to work hard.

They feel empowered when they believe their work will make a difference and change things for the better.

Give students decision-making power. When you give students the power to choose options and develop solutions, you are creating a sense of ownership over their learning. In fact, the more choices and freedoms students have, the more empowered they feel.

Remember, the most valuable voice in the learning environment is that of the student. They are the consumer in the school and they can provide feedback regarding what types of challenges they are seeing. For instance, they can more easily identify what needs to be addressed such as mean girl behavior, relational aggression, social media and cyberbullying. And remember to honor their ideas. Doing so builds trust and empowers them to think critically.

Communicate your belief in them. Let students know that you trust their ideas and feel they are competent in coming up with plans and ideas that will change the culture of the school. Kids feel empowered when they believe teachers and administrators feel they are qualified and capable of doing the work on a bullying prevention program.

Involve them in “real” issues. One complaint a lot of students have about school is that it doesn’t seem applicable to the real world. By empowering students to tackle bullying at school, you are giving them a real world situation that needs to be addressed.

Doing so also allows them to practice skills they have learned. Additionally, having students make a difference with what they have learned will motivate them to  learn further. It also will go a long way in instilling empathy and emotional intelligence – two skills they need to be successful in life.

Encourage healthy technology use.  Kids today use technology in almost every aspect of life. But not everything they do with technology has a benefit to everyday life. As a result, it is important that you empower students to include technology use in their bullying prevention efforts. Encourage them to use videos to communicate messages and to develop social media campaigns.  The key is to allow the kids the creative freedom to determine how best to utilize technology in order to offset the damages caused by issues such as cyberbullying, teen dating violence and other safety issues. Remember, kids understand technology better than most adults. Consequently, any bullying prevention program that effectively utilizes technology will be a huge success among other kids and teens. 

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