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Safe teachers

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Title:
Safe teachers how exemplary teachers identify the sources of their self-efficacy in bullying prevention
Creator:
Connors, Susan C
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Language:
English
Physical Description:
xi, 171 leaves : ; 28 cm

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Bullying in schools -- Prevention ( lcsh )
Teachers ( lcsh )
Self-efficacy ( lcsh )
Bullying in schools -- Prevention ( fast )
Self-efficacy ( fast )
Teachers ( fast )
Genre:
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )

Notes

Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 161-171).
General Note:
School of Education and Human Development
Statement of Responsibility:
by Susan C. Connors.

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Source Institution:
|University of Colorado Denver
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Auraria Library
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
75392204 ( OCLC )
ocm75392204
Classification:
LD1193.E3 2006d C66 ( lcc )

Full Text
SAFE TEACHERS: HOW EXEMPLARY TEACHERS IDENTIFY
THE SOURCES OF THEIR SELF-EFFICACY
IN BULLYING PREVENTION
by
Susan C. Connors
B.A., Creighton University, 1972
M.A., University of Colorado at Denver, 1978
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
Educational Leadership and Innovation
2006


by Susan C. Connors
All rights reserved.


This thesis for the Doctor of Philosophy
degree by
Susan C. Connors
has been approved
by
Michael P. Marlow


Connors, Susan C. (Ph.D., Educational Leadership and Innovation)
Safe Teachers: How Exemplary Teachers Identify the Sources of Their Self-
Efficacy in Bullying Prevention
Thesis directed by Associate Professor Michael P. Marlow
ABSTRACT
A Safe Teacher Model was developed to describe sources of teacher self-efficacy
in the ability to prevent bullying and facilitate a safe classroom environment. The
proposed model integrated prior research and included indicators of mastery
experiences, vicarious experiences, verbal/social persuasion, and affective
state/attitudes, as well as perceptions of overall teacher efficacy and collective
efficacy of the school. The factors in the model were examined within and across
the cases of five middle school teachers who were identified as exemplary in
bullying prevention by principals, counselors, and students. Narrative inquiry
methods were used to determine if the factors in the proposed Safe Teacher
Model were consistent with the experiences of the exemplary teachers and to
identify additional factors. The teachers stories revealed that each exemplary
teacher had a unique combination of factors that contributed to his/her efficacy
beliefs in bullying prevention. Based on their experiences, the Safe Teacher
Model was refined to describe the factors that were major influences for at least
some teachers. Implications of the refined Safe Teacher Model for teacher
preparation were discussed.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidates thesis.
I recommend its publication.
Signed
Michael P. Marlow


DEDICATION
This study is dedicated to teachers everywhere who understand the importance of
a safe classroom environment and who work explicitly to assure that all students
have a safe place in which to learn.


ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
My advisor Michael Marlow has been a constant source of encouragement and
advice for me. Without his support, I would never have entered a doctoral
program; he opened doors to new worlds for me for which I am most grateful.
My committee members have been steady in their guidance and support. I am
indebted to Sharon Hastings for her wisdom and her deep understanding of the
dynamics of the classroom, as well as for her careful editing of my work. Susan
Giullian has provided me with positive ehergy and even an occasional smile
during my doctoral program. Carole Basile has provided insight into the rigor and
methods necessary to help me reach my goals.
I am grateful to the five teachers who agreed to be part of this study and who gave
selflessly of their time and energy. Their dedication to the work of providing safe
classrooms was inspirational.
My husband Ed and my children Daniel and Megan have been unvarying in their
support and unquestioning of my desire to continue my education after thirty
years in the public schools. When others expected me to revel in my retirement,
my family understood my need to continue the work I feel I have only begun.


TABLE OF CONTENTS
List of Figures.................................................x
List of Tables ................................................xi
CHAPTER
1. INTRODUCTION...............................................1
Need for the Study....................................... 3
Teacher Self-efficacy Background...........................6
Safe Teacher Model.........................................8
Research Questions........................................12
Overview of Methodology...................................13
Structure of the Dissertation.............................16
2. REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE................!..................17
School Bullying Literature: General Background............17
Review of Teacher Self-Efficacy Literature.............. 29
Review of Literature in the Safe Teacher Model............34
3. METHODOLOGY................................................40
Design of the Study.......................................40
Researcher Reflexivity....................................42
Sampling Procedures.......................................43
vii


Data Collection: Narrative Inquiry Process.................52
Data Analysis..............................................54
4. FIVE CASES...................................................59
Bill Gordons Story........................................60
Grace Harringtons Story...................................67
Matt Jacobs Story....................................... 76
Shannon Parkers Story.....................................86
Erin Thomass Story...................................... 93
5. THEMES ACROSS CASES.........................................103
Mastery Experiences.......................................104
Vicarious Experiences................................... 113
Verbal/Social Persuasion..................................116
Affective State/Attitudes................................ 126
Overall Teacher Self-Efficacy and Collective Efficacy.....134
Summary of Themes across Cases............................137
6. DISCUSSION, IMPLICATIONS, LIMITATIONS, AND
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FUTURE STUDY............................139
Implications for Teacher Preparation and
Professional Development..................................146
Additional Implications...................................148
Limitations and Further Recommendations
For Future Study..........................................149
Vlll


APPENDIX
A. EXEMPLARY TEACHER CHECKLIST............152
B. INTERVIEW PROTOCOL.....................153
C. OBSERVATION PROTOCOL...................155
D. LETTER OF INFORMED CONSENT.............156
E. POSITIVE BEHAVIOR SUPPORT (PBS) OVERVIEW.157
F. CODEBOOK.............................. 159
REFERENCES.........................................161
IX


LIST OF FIGURES
Figure
1.1
1.2
2.1
3.1
6.1
Integrated Model of Teacher Self-Efficacy............................7
Safe Teacher Model, Proposed..........................................9
Interaction of Factors in Social Learning Theory.....................31
Teacher Selection Process............................................47
Safe Teacher Model, Revised.........................................140
X


LIST OF TABLES
Table
3.1 Comparison of participating schools..................................45
3.2 Student reports of bullying and victimization........................49
3.3 Participant demographics............................................ 52
4.1 Major themes in Bill Gordons story..................................66
4.2 Major themes in Grace Harringtons story.............................75
4.3 Major themes in Matt Jacobs story...................................85
4.4 Major themes in Shannon Parkers story...............................92
4.5 Major themes in Erin Thomass story.................................101
5.1 Mastery experiences across cases....................................105
5.2 Vicarious experiences across cases..................................114
5.3 Verbal/social persuasion across cases...............................118
5.4 Affective state/attitudes across cases..............................127
5.5 Teacher and collective efficacy across cases........................135
5.6 Summary of research question findings...............................138
XI


CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION
Adam and Mrs. Thomas*
Mrs. Thomas noticed that Adam, a small boy in a large fleece zip-up
sweatshirt, was unusually quiet and distracted in English class. She pulled him
aside at the end of class and said, Hey, buddy, whats up?
Adam looked at the floor but finally responded tearfully, Its Mark! He is
always going through my stuff, taking my stuff, tearing up my stuff. Hes making
me crazy.
Mark was another of Mrs. Thomass 7th grade students who was facing
difficulties both at home and at school. She decided that, for the sake of both her
students, she needed to attempt to help them resolve the conflict.
Adam shared the details of his conflict with Mark with Mrs. Thomas
reporting that it had been occurring for two weeks. He produced a crumbled
paper from his backpack, a note from Mark that was signed only Filled with
Hatred, but Mrs. Thomas recognized Marks handwriting.
She said to Adam, What would you like to do about this?
Students, teachers, and schools are identified by pseudonyms throughout.
1


Discouraged, Adam said, Like I have any choices.
She said, This is Mrs. Thomass class of course you have choices.
Should we talk about your choices?
When Adam nodded, Mrs. Thomas said, You may choose to meet with
Mark alone.
Adam responded Yeah, I tried that. It didnt work.
Mrs. Thomas continued, You may choose to meet with Mark and me, and
we will problem-solve. You may choose to meet with Mark and the counselor -
three guys hashing it out. Or you may write it up for administrators, and they will
deal with it.
Adam thought for a while and then he said, Well, my first choice would
be you because you know us. But its guy stuff and the counselor is a guy. All
right, I will take the counselor.
Mrs. Thomas said, Lets set it up. Watch as I write the note. She sent
an email to the counselor with Adams input. Will that work?
Yeah.
After the meeting with the two boys and the counselor took place, Mrs.
Thomas reported that Adam looked better and was working in class. She said, I
will check with him tomorrow to see how it is going.
2


Need for the Study
The purpose of this study was to examine the experiences of teachers like
Mrs. Thomas. What experiences shaped her judgment of her abilities and
provided her with the motivation to assist a student like Adam? What activates
teachers self-efficacy in the ability to prevent school bullying?
This study is grounded in the assertion that every child deserves a safe
learning environment. Maslow (1954) identified the need for safety as a basic
human motivation, second only to physiological needs like hunger and thirst. A
sense of safety is a prerequisite to motivation for learning and, therefore, is of
interest to educators.
This line of inquiry adds to the body of knowledge in two diverse fields:
the research on school bullying and the research on teacher self-efficacy. It
extends the research in school bullying by examining how teachers gain
motivation and confidence to engage in bullying prevention. While prior studies
have looked at the effectiveness of specialized professional development in
bullying prevention (Newman-Carlson & Home, 2004; Orpinas et al., 2003), no
available study examines how teachers come to believe in their efficacy in
bullying prevention.
This study also addresses a need identified in teacher self-efficacy
literature. Tschannen-Moran, Hoy and Hoy (1998, p. 242) state, qualitative
studies of teacher self-efficacy are overwhelmingly neglected. Interviews and
3


observational data can provide a thick, rich description of the growth of teacher
efficacy. Labone (2004) further suggests that researchers examine the sources of
teacher self-efficacy and that they broaden the concept to include teacher
competencies in areas that develop students social skills and promote a just
society. By examining the sources of teacher self-efficacy in bullying prevention,
this study addresses both Tschannen-Moran et al. and Labones suggestions for
further research.
The goal of this study was to inform the practice of teacher preparation
and professional development in bullying prevention. The need for improving
practice is indicated by studies in which over 90% of teachers report feeling
unprepared to engage in bullying prevention activities (Boulton, 1997; Harris &
Willoughby, 2003).
The study began with a review of the literature from the fields of school
bullying and teacher self-efficacy. Theory from teacher self-efficacy research
was elaborated to reflect understandings from school bullying research, resulting
in a conceptual framework referred to as the Safe Teacher Model. The study then
examined the factors in the proposed Safe Teacher Model through the experiences
of five middle school teachers who were identified as exemplary in prevention of
school bullying and facilitation of safe classroom environments. Based on the
findings from in-depth conversations with these teachers, the factors in the Safe
Teacher Model were refined and enhanced.
4


School Bullying Background
Bullying is a behavior that is repeated, intentional, and imbalanced
(Newman-Carlson & Home, 2004). This notion is grounded in the pioneering
work of Olweus (1978,1984,1993,1991, 2003) who defined bullying as a subset
of aggression that may be verbal and/or physical, occurs over time, and is difficult
to evade because of an imbalance of power between victim and perpetrator(s).
Bullying is an all too common occurrence in schools (Nansel et al., 2001).
Despite the recent attention and proliferation of school programs to address
school bullying, studies show that some students still experience frequent bullying
(Lemer & Greenfield, 2004). Bullying in schools correlates with significant
negative consequences that are of concern for educators. Both bullies and victims
are at great risk for developing behavioral, emotional, and academic difficulties
(Leff, Power, & Goldstein, 2004, p. 271).
Teachers are in a unique position to prevent bullying behaviors (Chang,
2003). They engage in bullying prevention when they express disapproval of
bullying, support students who are victimized, and use cooperative learning
strategies (Rigby, 2001). A positive teacher-student relationship and a classroom
environment that emphasizes the inclusion of all students can minimize peer
aggression and victimization (Doll, Song, & Siemers, 2004). When teachers learn
to identify bullying/victim behaviors, establish classroom rules concerning
bullying, and facilitate activities that increase students prosocial skills, they can
5


increase the likelihood that students will experience a safe classroom environment
(Orpinas et al., 2003). Classroom bullying prevention is part of the schools
responsibility, and schools are also accountable for providing clear anti-bullying
policies, adequate student supervision, and clear and consistent intervention when
incidences of bullying occur (Stephenson & Smith, 2002).
Unfortunately, teachers are not always well prepared to prevent bullying.
Teachers often misidentify situations of student bullying and report lower rates of
bullying than students report (Atlas & Pepler, 1998; Hazier, Miller, Carney, &
Green; Yoon, 2004). Nevertheless, research shows that when teachers practice
effective prevention strategies, rates of bullying decrease (Mytton, DiGuiseppi,
Gough, Taylor, & Logan, 2002; Nelson, Martella, Marchand-Martella, 2002;
Olweus, 1991; Orpinas et al., 2003; Newman-Carlson & Home, 2004; Roland &
Galloway, 2002).
Teacher Self-efficacy Background
Over the past thirty years, the construct of teacher self-efficacy has
developed from two research strands. One strand builds upon social learning
theory (Rotter, 1966; Rotter, Chance, & Phares, 1972) and the research of the
RAND Corporation (Armor et al., 1976; Berman & McLaughlin, 1977). A
second strand of teacher efficacy research originates in social cognitive theory
(Bandura, 1977,1986, 1993,1997). From this perspective, teachers process social
6


and psychological factors to arrive at an assessment of their own teaching
competence. Bandura (1977,1997)) identified four sources of information
through which an individual arrives at a sense of efficacy: 1) mastery experiences,
2) vicarious experiences, 3) verbal/social persuasion, and 4) affective state.
An integrated model of teacher self-efficacy (Figure 1.1) merges outcome-
based theory with social cognitive theory (Tschannen-Moran et al., 1998). From
the perspective of this model, teacher self-efficacy is defined as the teachers
belief in his or her capability to organize and execute courses of action required to
successfully accomplish a specific teaching task in a particular context
(Tschannen-Moran et al, 1998, p. 233).
Figure 1.1.
Integrated Model of Teacher Self-Efficacy (Tschannen-Moran et al., 1998)
7


The model incorporates Banduras (1977, 1997) four sources of efficacy
information from which teachers cognitively process a specific task in relation to
their overall perceived competence to arrive at sense of teacher efficacy. The
consequences and subsequent performance in turn provide new sources of
efficacy information to the teacher as the cycle continues.
Safe Teacher Model
To examine the sources of teacher self-efficacy information within the
context of one specific teacher task, that of preventing student bullying, a
conceptual framework model (Figure 1.2) was developed to guide the process of
inquiry. This model, referred to as the Safe Teacher Model, elaborates the
integrated model of teacher self-efficacy (Tschannen-Moran et al., 1998) by
applying knowledge obtained from prior studies on school bullying and teacher
self-efficacy. In the model, each of the four sources of teacher self-efficacy
information reflects the context of bullying prevention. The prior studies that
support the proposed version of the Safe Teacher Model are briefly discussed
below and are further described in Chapter 2.
Mastery Experiences
Positive personal experiences may provide teachers with evidence that
they can make a difference for their students. Especially among new teachers,
mastery experiences are highly influential sources of efficacy (Mulholland &
8


Wallace, 2001). Therefore, the proposed version of the Safe Teacher Model
begins by recognizing the importance of a teachers personal experience and prior
success in bullying prevention.
Figure 1.2 Safe Teacher Model, Proposed
Vicarious Experiences
Another source for teacher self-efficacy in bullying prevention occurs
when teachers observe others engaging in related behaviors. When teachers
witness colleagues taking action to deter school bullying, establishing rules to
9


protect the safety of students, and delivering lessons on pro-social skills, their
motivation to participate likewise in such activities may increase. In general,
vicarious experiences contribute to teachers personal practical knowledge and
confidence (Conle, Li, & Tan, 2002).
Verbal/Social Persuasion
Verbal/social persuasion is the third source of teacher self-efficacy in the
proposed version of the Safe Teacher Model. Verbal persuasion may come in the
form of specialized teacher training in bullying prevention, which positively
affects teacher self-efficacy (Newman-Carlson & Home, 2004; Fritz, Miller-Heyl,
Kreutzer, & MacPhee, 1995), or in the form of focused mentoring from more
experienced teachers (Rushton, 2003). On a personal level, teachers perception
of support from students, parents, and colleagues serves as a persuasive source of
efficacy (Hoy & Spero, 2005; Milner, 2002).
A supportive school climate may also activate teacher efficacy beliefs.
Teacher self-efficacy is enhanced when principals set standards for safe and
orderly environments (Hoy & Woolfolk, 1993). A school climate promotes
bullying prevention if it is characterized by a spirit of equity and internalized
norms that bullying is unacceptable (Holt & Keyes, 2004; Ma, 2001). In such a
school environment, teachers are more likely to be involved in bullying
prevention if they perceive that it is important to other members of the faculty
(Kallestad & Olweus, 2003). When bullying prevention becomes a successful and
10


supported school-wide activity, the school environment contributes efficacy
information to individual teachers (Nelson et al., 2002; Newman-Carlson &
Home, 2004).
Affective State/Attitudes
A teachers affective state refers to her/his emotions and physiological
responses that provide the fourth source of efficacy beliefs (Bandura, 1977, 1997).
Emotional states vary in the perceived intensity and meaning of experiences to
individuals, which makes affective sources of efficacy information difficult to
assess (Bandura, 1997). Therefore, in this study, expressed emotions and attitudes
are considered as indicators of the affective state, which acknowledges that actual
emotional and physiological effects upon the individual are uncertain.
A sense of caring for students is foundational to effective teaching in
general, as well as a teachers ability to prevent bullying (Collinson, Killeavy, &
Stephenson, 1999). Specifically, feelings of empathy for victims contribute to a
sense that bullying prevention is important, which increases teachers willingness
and confidence to participate in prevention activities (Chang, 2003; Yoon, 2004).
In general, teachers who have a sense that their professional role includes a
responsibility to take actions that prevent bullying are more likely to feel
motivated and confident about intervening in cases of bullying (Behre, Astor,
Meyer, 2001).
11


Teacher Overall Self-Efficacy and Collective Teacher Efficacy
In addition to the four source areas, an individuals overall self-efficacy as
a teacher contributes to the task-specific sense of efficacy in bullying prevention
(Yoon, 2004). Likewise, the collective sense of efficacy at the school is related to
the individual teachers sense of efficacy and to shaping the climate of the school
(Goddard, Hoy, & Hoy, 2000).
Research Questions
The underlying question of this study is, How do teachers develop self-
efficacy in bullying prevention? To address this line of inquiry, two research
questions were developed to guide the research:
1. In what ways does the Safe Teacher Model reflect the experiences of
middle school teachers who are identified as exemplary in bullying prevention?
2. What additional themes beyond the Safe Teacher Model emerge that
account for teachers self-efficacy in bullying prevention?
The hypothesis of this study was that the proposed version of the Safe
Teacher Model (Figure 1.2) identifies factors that provide efficacy information for
at least some teachers.
12


Overview of Methodology
To address the research questions, a qualitative research design in two
phases was developed. The goal of the first phase was to identify critical case
participants (Polkinghome, 2005) who could provide rich and relevant
experience. In this study, the critical cases are exemplary middle school teachers
in bullying prevention.
The study of exemplary performers has been used in prior studies to add to
the understanding of teacher practice (Brophy & McCaslin, 1992; Collinson et al.,
1999; Ladsen-Billings, 1994; Williams, 2003). This approach supported by the
belief that the study of expert performers.. .offers a nearly untapped reservoir of
knowledge about optimal training (Ericsson & Chamess, 1997, p. 34).
The second phase of the study incorporated narrative inquiry methods to
examine the teachers experiences and the sources of information they used to
make judgments concerning their self-efficacy in bullying prevention. In this
qualitative study, the unit of analysis is the experiences of the exemplary teachers.
Narrative inquiry was selected as the most appropriate methodology because
narrative inquiry is a way of understanding experience.. .narrative inquiry is
stories lived and told (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000, p. 20).
Sampling Procedures
Middle school principals from a suburban school district were invited to
participate in the study by providing the candidate pool for exemplaiy teachers.
13


The middle-school level was chosen intentionally because studies indicate that
middle school students report high levels of bullying (Haynie et al., 2001; Nansel
et al., 2001; Eslea & Rees, 2001; Harris & Petrie, 2002). During the selection
process, no pre-determined number of teachers was specified for identification as
exemplary, in order to avoid limiting the process.
To identify teachers who were exemplary in bullying prevention, a
selection process based upon nominations from multiple constituencies was used
(Palmer, Stough, Burdenski, & Gonzales, 2005). An exemplary teacher checklist
guided the nomination process (see Appendix A). The checklist developed for this
study on the principles developed by Olweus (1993) describes teacher attributes
concerning bullying prevention.
The three constituencies for nominations at each middle school were
administrators, counselors, and students. Administrators were important because
they were viewed as integral to the discipline process in most schools. Similarly,
school counselors were seen as individuals often involved with students
personal/social education and as effective school personnel in promoting students
sense of safety (Lapan, Gysbers, & Petroski, 2003). Finally, the student voice was
critical to the nomination process because bullying often goes undetected by
adults (Stockdale, Hangaduambo, Duys, Larson, & Sarvela, 2002).
The students completed an anonymous survey, the Revised Bully/Victim
Questionnaire (Olweus, 1996), a standardized instrument widely used to provide
14


schools with information on the level of bullying that occurs at the school. After
completing the questionnaire, students were asked to respond to one additional
question, Who are teachers at your school who let everyone know that bullying
is not acceptable and who make all students feel safe at school? Write their names
in the lines below. Teachers who were nominated by all three constituencies
were approached as to their willingness to participate in the study.
Data Collection: Narrative Inquiry Process
In order to capture the stories of the exemplary teachers, interviews and
observations were conducted (see protocols Appendix B and C). Two semi-
structured interviews were conducted with each teacher as advocated by Seidman
(1998). Teachers were then observed as they were engaged in instruction and as
they interacted with students outside of the classroom. Field notes and interview
transcripts were prepared for each teacher.
Data Analysis
Data was analyzed both as within-case studies and as cross-case
comparisons (Miles & Huberman, 1994). First, each teachers case was
considered as a unique experience that contributes to her/his teacher self-efficacy.
By reading and rereading the field notes and interview transcripts, each teachers
story was described in a research text (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000). A
preliminary version of the story was shared with each participant to check the
integrity of the story and to confirm the degree to which the experience influenced
15


efficacy beliefs. Second, the teachers cases were considered together for cross-
case comparison. Coding for themes was completed using NVIVO software
(version 7.0) in order to examine the commonalities a'mong the experiences of the
teachers. Data analysis also included the process of verification and refinement of
the Safe Teacher Model.
Structure of the Dissertation
The remaining chapters in this dissertation describe the study of teacher
self-efficacy in bullying prevention in detail. In Chapter 2, a review of the
literature from bullying prevention research, teacher self-efficacy research, and
literature that supports the proposed version of the Safe Teacher Model is
presented. Chapter 3 describes the methodology for both phases of this qualitative
study. Chapter 4 contains the stories of each of the identified exemplary teachers.
Common themes in the stories of the teachers, alignment of each teachers
experience with the Safe Teacher Model, and refinements to the model suggested
by the analysis of the data are discussed in Chapter 5. In the final chapter, a
revised Safe Teacher Model is presented, and implications for teacher preparation
and professional development, limitations of the study, and recommendations for
future research are discussed.
16


CHAPTER 2
REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE
School Bullying Literature: General Background
Dan Olweus, the Norwegian scholar and pioneer in the field of school
bullying research (1978), provides an operational definition of bullying. Olweus
(1997) describes bullying as characterized by three criteria: (a) it is behavior
intended to inflict harm, (b) it occurs within an interpersonal relationship where
there is an imbalance of strength or power, and (c) it involves repeated actions
that occur over time. While always intentionally harmful, bullying behavior may
be physical, verbal, or relational (Hawker & Boulton, 2001). Therefore, bullying
includes behaviors such as hitting and kicking as well as name-calling, spreading
rumors, and social exclusion.
Bullying is different from teasing or interpersonal conflict in that it
involves an imbalance of strength or power. While most teasing is friendly and
reciprocal, it becomes bullying when the victim perceives that he/she cannot
evade or defend against it. The imbalance may be due to an actual difference in
physical strength, perceived differences in social power, or may occur when a
17


group overwhelms an individual. On the other hand, conflict between individuals
of equal status is not considered bullying.
Frequency of Bullying
In the World Health Organizations study of over 15,000 students in
grades 6 through 10 in the United States, 29.9% of students report involvement in
bullying (Nansel et al., 2001). This study found that 13% of students self-report
bullying behaviors, 10.6% report victimization, and 6.3% report both participating
in bullying and being victims. Boys were more likely to be involved in bullying
than girls, and the rate of bullying was higher for students in grades 6 through 8
than for students in grades 9 or 10.
Similarly, in a study of over 4,000 middle-school students in Maryland,
30.9% of students report being victimized three or more times during the past year
(Haynie et al., 2001). In the National Crime Victimization Survey, 7% of
American students in grades 6 through 12 report being bullied at school in the last
six months (Lemer & Greenfield, 2004). This study found that rates of bullying
were stable between the years of 2001 and 2003, although prior two years had
shown slight increases. In agreement with the literature, this study also found
bullying rates higher for middle school aged students, with students in grade 6
reporting the highest rate of 14%.
18


Common Misconceptions
School bullying is the subject of several common misconceptions. First,
bullying is sometimes considered the problem of large, over-crowded urban
schools. However, in a study in small rural schools in Appalachia, 82.3% of
students reported experiencing bullying in the past three months, a much higher
rate than the national average (Dulmus, Theriot, Sowers, & Blackburn, 2004).
Wolke, Woods, Stanford, and Schulz (2001) also found more bullying in small
rather than large schools and classes. Astor, Meyer, and Behre (1999) found no
difference in the prevalence of violent acts in schools based on size, location,
ethnic composition, or socio-economic level; instead, they found the most serious
acts of peer aggression to occur in school locations where few adults were
present.
Another misconception is that bullying is precipitated by the traits of the
victim. However, stereotypes of victims of bullying are not consistently
supported in the research. While some studies have found that a victims ethnicity
or socio-economic status may increase the likelihood of bullying (Wolke et al.,
2001), other studies have found no connection (Ma, 2001; Olweus, 1991). In a
study of 25 secondary schools (Glover, Gough, & Johnson, 2000), 66 % of
students reported that they bullied their peers for other reasons than race and
religion (8%), socio-economic status (17%), school attitudes (14%), or being
different (10%).
19


Nevertheless, some characteristics associated with victimization are
confirmed by research. Physical size appears to affect the rate of victimization,
especially in boys, although the effect decreases as students get older (Ma, 2001;
Olweus, 1991). Victims may exhibit poor social functioning, low self-regard,
anxiety, and depression, but it is not clear if these traits are causes or effects of
bullying (Craig, 1998; Egan & Perry, 1998). Describing the characteristics of
victims of bullying is complicated by research that shows that many bullies are
also victims (Wolke et ah, 2001). In the study of the middle-school students in
Maryland (Hayne et ah, 2001), over half of the students who reported being
victimized also reported bullying behaviors.
Rather perpetuate the misconception that victims precipitate bullying by
focusing on victimization, one strand of research focuses on examining the
ecology of the classroom and the school (Baker, 1998; Rodkin & Hodges, 2003).
From this point of view, bullying is viewed as a complex social problem in which
all students, teachers, and administrators play significant roles (Salmivalli, 1999).
In a study of 18 schools in Wisconsin, Holt and Keyes (2004) found some schools
had norms that supported the occurrence of bullying while other schools had a
climate that inhibited bullying behaviors. In agreement with this ecological
perspective, Olweus (2003) says that environmental factors, such as the attitudes,
behavior, and routines of relevant adults in particular, teachers and principals -
play a crucial role in determining the extent to which bullying problems will
20


manifest themselves in...a classroom or school (p. 2). Espelage and Swearer
(2003) call for additional research into the effect of the school ecology upon the
prevalence of bullying.
A third misconception is that bullying is a normal developmental stage
that is just part of growing up. Instead, research shows that bullying correlates
with significant negative consequences. In a meta-analysis of twenty years of
research, Hawker and Boulton (2000) found the potential for serious emotional
and social consequences for victims of bullying.
Consequences of Bullying
School bullying may result in serious consequences. The U.S. Department
of Education and the Secret Service found that over 70% of the perpetrators of
school shootings from 1974 to 2000 reported being chronically bullied
(Vossekuil, Fein, Reddy, Borum, & Modzeleski, 2002). However, the vast
majority of students who are bullied do not turn to violence but instead experience
varying degrees of psychological distress. The direct consequences of bullying
can include suicidal ideation, anxiety, social dysfunction, depression, and somatic
illness (Rigby, 2000, 2001).
Both bullies and victims are at great risk for developing behavioral,
emotional, and academic difficulties (Leff et al., 2004, p. 271). In the study of
middle school students in Maryland, Haynie et al. (2001) found serious
consequences for the personal and school functioning of bullies, victims, and
21


especially for the bully/victim group. In this study, students who reported both
bullying and victim behaviors had the lowest levels of psychosocial functioning
and the most problem behaviors. This finding was confirmed by a study of sixth
graders in 11 schools in Los Angeles where the bully/victim group displayed the
highest levels of conduct, school, and peer relationship problems (Juvonen,
Graham, & Schuster, 2003).
The consequences of bullying have clear implications for educators.
Students who are victims of bullies demonstrate significant school maladjustment,
including loneliness and school avoidance (Kochenderfer & Ladd, 1996). In a
study of over 4,700 students in grades 7-12 from 31 public Midwestern schools,
students who reported even subtle levels of bullying also reported lower levels of
school connectedness and poorer school grades (Eisenberg, Neumark-Sztainer,
Perry, 2003).
Another consequence of bullying is the effects upon those who observe
bullying happening to their peers. Janson and Hazier (2004) found that bystanders
to bullying had long-lasting effects of distress similar to other catastrophic events.
The opportunity to witness bullying is not a rare occurrence in schools. In a study
of eighth-graders, Harris and Petrie, (2002) found 92% of students reported
witnessing incidences of bullying at school. Students reported witnessing the most
bullying at lunchtime (83%), however 77% reported bullying occurred in the
classroom.
22


Teachers and Bullying
Clearly, the negative personal and academic consequences of bullying for
bullies, victims, and bystanders make bullying prevention a topic of interest and
concern for educators and the public at large. Because of the increasing awareness
of the detrimental effects of bullying, 15 states have passed legislation addressing
bullying in schools and many other states are considering such legislation (Limber
& Small, 2003).
Beyond legal mandates, teachers are in a unique position to tackle the
issues surrounding school bullying because of their implicit involvement in
students social and ethical development (Chang, 2003). Bullying prevention is an
opportunity for educators to promote positive social, ethical, and civic attitudes
(Battistich, Watson, Solomon, Lewis, & Schaps, 1999, p. 416) that are necessary
for a democratic society. In two studies of over 300 elementary students, a
positive teacher-student relationship and a classroom environment that
emphasizes the inclusion of all students were found to be the most significant
factors in reducing peer aggression (Doll et al., 2004).
While some teachers demonstrate a commitment to educating students in
social, ethical and civic attitudes, there are obstacles to a more universal
involvement of teachers in bullying prevention. Juvonen et al., (2003), in their
study of bullying in the Los Angeles schools, conclude that:
23


Teachers play a key role in preventing and intervening with bullying at
school, yet they receive little if any help or training in how to effectively
deal with such problems. They lack information, and they are reluctant to
intervene when they witness bullying. Although teachers have the benefit
of understanding the social context of bullying, they do not necessarily
know how to best use this knowledge to intervene. In school settings,
bullying and victimization are often considered as personal problems of
individual youth rather than problems requiring a collective response, (p.
1236)
Identifying Bullying Behaviors
Teachers often report lower levels of bullying and harassment than
students report (Stockdale et al., 2002). Atlas and Pepler (1998) found that
teachers were only aware of 25% of the bullying instances. Teachers often have
difficulty in identifying bullying situations, especially those characterized by
social or verbal abuse (Hazier et al., 2001). In a study of 61 teachers, elementary
teachers were better able to identify peer-reported bullies and victims than their
middle-school colleagues (Leff, Kupersmidt, Patterson, & Power, 1999).
In many schools, identification of bullying behaviors is complicated by the
lack of an accepted definition of bullying behaviors among teachers (Glover et al.,
2000). Using 21 scenarios, Hazier et al. (2001) asked 251 teachers and counselors
to differentiate bullying from other types of conflict. They found the educators
adept at identifying cases of physical bullying which they considered more
serious but were less likely to identify verbal or relational bullying which they
saw as less of an offense. This study confirmed Boultons earlier work in which
he found that teachers agreed that bullying behaviors included physical assaults,
24


verbal threats, and forcing people to do things that they dont want to do, but little
agreement whether behaviors like name calling, spreading rumors, intimidation,
or social exclusion constituted bullying. Yoon (2004) found that a teachers
perception of the seriousness of an incidence of bullying was the most important
predictor of whether they were willing to take action.
Implementation of Bullying Prevention Activities
When teachers do intervene, they are more likely to take action by talking
to the bully after the occurrence; only one third of teachers report prevention
activities such as class discussions or involving students in developing rules
against bullying (Dake, Price, Telljohann, & Funk, 2003). Kallestad and Olweus
(2003) found the similar results when they examined 37 schools that had
introduced the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program. In their study of 89 teachers
of students in grades 6-9, they found that 40% of teachers had contacted a
victimized student and 44% talked with a student who bullied. However,
prevention component implementation ranged from 11% for teachers using role-
play strategies to a high score of 49% for teachers using bullying awareness
literature.
In this study, Kallestad and Olweus (2003) identified five factors that
predicted a teachers level of implementation of bullying prevention program: (a)
perceived staff importance of bullying prevention, (b) knowledge and skills of the
prevention strategies, (c) perception of the level of bullying in their classroom, (d)
25


personal experience with bullying, and (e) the level of affective involvement with
students. In the discussion of the study, Kallestad and Olweus tell us that their
results imply that teachers who believed they could reduce the levels of classroom
bullying were the teachers who actually put the program into practice. They
conclude:
Teachers who saw themselves, their colleagues, and the schools as
important agents of change for counteracting bully/victim problems
among their students were more likely to involve themselves in
antibullying efforts and to introduce specific classroom measures. This
finding is clearly in line with previous research concerning teacher
efficacy, (p. 18)
Need for Further Training of Teachers
Although many bullying prevention programs and curriculums are
available, teachers report a need for additional training. Harris and Willoughby
(2003) conducted a study of 68 teachers enrolled in a principal preparation
program. Of this group of teachers, 53% said they always took action to stop
bullying, but reported that only 10% of their colleagues were always interested
in preventing bullying. When teachers were asked how many students had ever
confided in them concerning bullying, 53% reported none; however, nearly
21% indicated that between 6 and 10 students had reported being bullied. Nearly
90% of the teachers in this study believed staff training was needed for teachers
to adequately deal with bullying (p. 16). In a study in Great Britain, Boulton
26


(1997) found that a similar percentage (87%) of teachers requested more training
to deal with bullying.
Bullying Prevention Programs
Teachers and schools can choose from over 300 bullying prevention/
school safety programs currently available (Swearer & Espelage, 2004). Yet no
single program has met with universal acceptance, and Rigby (2004) cautions that
all bully prevention programs should be reviewed as to their strengths and
weaknesses.
One of the more extensively researched programs is the Olweus Bullying
Prevention Program. This program was been identified as an outstanding program
by the Blueprints for Violence Prevention project at the University of Colorado at
Boulders Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence (Olweus & Limber,
2002) and as a noteworthy program in a review of ten widely used programs
(Astor, Meyer, Benbenishty, Marachi, & Rosemond, 2005). From the perspective
of this program, bullying prevention includes activities on four levels (Olweus,
2003) :
1. Overall, the prerequisite of bullying prevention is an awareness of the
range of behaviors considered to be bullying.
2. At the school level, bullying prevention includes adequate supervision
of students, the training of staff, and periodic assessments of student perception of
27


bullying at the school. Olweus recommends that schools form committees to
oversee activities at this level.
3. At the classroom level, bullying prevention includes explicit rules
concerning bullying and class activities that address students prosocial skill
development. Examples of such classroom activities that prevent bullying include
problem-solving methods, communication exercises, and cooperative learning
techniques (Newman-Carlson, Home, & Bartolomucci, 2000).
4. At the individual level, bullying prevention includes appropriate
interventions both for students who exhibit bullying behaviors and for those who
are victimized. Meetings with the parents of all students involved are also
important.
Research shows that when teachers learn effective prevention strategies
such as those described in the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, students
report reduced rates of bullying and general improvement in the school climate
(Nelson et al., 2002; Olweus, 1991; Orpinas et al., 2003; Newman-Carlson &
Home, 2004; Roland & Galloway, 2002). In a review of 16 studies of schools
participating in bullying prevention programs, researchers found modest
reductions in aggressive and violent behaviors even among children at high risk
(Mytton et al., 2002).
In summary, it is clear that bullying is a persistent and negative occurrence
in schools, especially among young adolescents. While some teachers are
28


successfully implementing bullying prevention, many are hindered by a lack of
training based on clear understanding of the problem of bullying. When teachers
develop confidence and competence in bullying prevention, they can reduce rates
of bullying and provide a classroom environment conducive to learning. Another
important perspective on this process comes from the literature on teacher self-
efficacy.
Review of Teacher Self-Efficacy Literature
Origins of Self-Efficacy Theory
Over the past thirty years, the construct of teacher self-efficacy has
developed from two research strands. One strand builds upon social learning
theory (Rotter et al., 1972), which describes behavior as the function of
expectancy, reinforcement, and internal-external locus of control. In other words,
individuals are likely to engage in certain behaviors if they believe it is likely they
will achieve expected, desirable outcomes and that the outcomes are within their
control, not just a matter of chance. Rose and Medway (1981) developed an early
assessment of teacher self-efficacy called the Teacher Locus of Control Scale
based upon social learning theory.
Rand Corporation researchers found teacher self-efficacy to be a powerful
factor when they surveyed teachers using the principles of social learning/ locus
of control theory (Armor et al., 1976; Berman & McLaughlin, 1977). In studies
29


of literacy programs and educational change, Rand researchers asked teachers to
respond to the statements: a) When it comes right down to it, a teacher really
cant do much because most of a students motivation and performance depends
on his or her home environment and (b) If I try really hard, I can get through to
even the most difficult or unmotivated students. Their response to the first
statement indicated beliefs about teachers in general and, therefore, is called
general teacher efficacy, the second item refers more specifically to a belief about
what the individual can accomplish, referred to as personal teacher efficacy.
Teachers responses to these two items revealed a significant connection between
teachers self-efficacy and student achievement.
Ashton and Webb (1986), who engaged in research to generate a theory of
teacher self-efficacy from the social learning perspective, conducted another early
study. Their study included in-depth profiles of high and low efficacy teachers
linking efficacy with increased student achievement and positive classroom
climate. They developed a 7-item Webb Efficacy Scale that assessed teacher
efficacy.
A second strand of teacher self-efficacy research builds upon social
cognitive theory (Bandura, 1977, 1986, 1993, 1997). Banduras concept of self-
efficacy refers to the future-oriented belief in ones capabilities to organize and
execute the courses of action required to produce given attainments (Bandura,
1997, p. 3). Social cognitive theory emphasizes that self-beliefs about personal
30


capabilities are the critical elements in human behavior and motivation (Pajares,
2003). As shown in Figure 2.1, social cognitive theorists describe human
functioning as the result of the complex interaction of personal, behavioral, and
environmental influences (Bandura, 1986).
Behavior
Personal Factors
Environmental Factors
Figure 2.1 Interaction of Factors in Social Learning Theory
Bandura (1977, 1997) identified four categories of source information by
which an individual arrives at a sense of efficacy: 1) mastery experiences
(successful performances), 2) vicarious experiences (observations of the successes
and failures of others), 3) verbal/social persuasion (persuasion from others to
believe in ones abilities), and 4) affective state/beliefs (emotions, moods, core
beliefs).
Researchers grounded in the theories of Bandura also sought to assess the
construct of teacher self-efficacy. Gibson and Dembo (1984) developed the
Teacher Efficacy Scale that has been widely used, analyzed, and adapted (Deemer
& Minke, 1999; Soodak & Podell, 1996). Bandura offered his own Teacher Self-
31


Efficacy Scale (1997) which attempts to provide a balance between questions on
specific tasks yet encompass the wide range of teacher responsibilities.
Integrated Model of Teacher Self-Efficacy
The integrated model of teacher self-efficacy (Figure 1.1), proposed by
Tschannen-Moran et al., (1998), is a comprehensive conceptual model that
reconciles social leaming/locus of control theory with social cognitive theory
(Labone, 2004). From social cognitive theory, the model integrates the sources of
efficacy, the cognitive processing, and the assessment of personal capabilities.
From social leaming/locus of control theory, the model includes the analysis of
the task and its context.
From the perspective of the integrated model, teacher efficacy is the
teachers belief in his or her capability to organize and execute courses of action
required to successfully accomplish a specific teaching task in a particular
context (Tschannen-Moran et al, 1998, p. 233). The model incorporated
Banduras (1977,1997) four sources of efficacy. From these sources, teachers
cognitively process and analyze the task in relation to their overall perceived
competence to arrive at a situation-specific sense of efficacy. The consequences
and subsequent performance provide new sources of efficacy information as the
cycle continues.
Researchers at Ohio State University used the integrated model of teacher
self-efficacy to develop the Teachers Sense of Efficacy Scale to measure the
32


complex concept (Tschannen-Moran & Hoy, 2001). The instrument described as
a promising development in the measurement of teacher efficacy (Henson,
2002, p. 145) reports three factors within the construct: efficacy in student
engagement, efficacy in instructional practices, and efficacy in classroom
management.
Consequences of Teacher Self-Efficacy
Considerable self-efficacy research has focused on academic settings
exploring the effect of efficacy beliefs on both students and teachers. Studies have
confirmed that teacher efficacy correlates significantly with student achievement
(Allinder, 1995; Anderson, Greene, & Loewen, 1988; Armor et al., 1976; Ashton
& Webb, 1986). In a longitudinal study of over 1,300 students, teacher efficacy
predicts student levels of motivation (Midgley, Feldlaufer, & Eccles, 1989).
Studies clearly link teacher self-efficacy with the likelihood that teachers
will participate in educational innovation (Allinder, 1994; Greenwood, Olejnik, &
Parkay, 1990; Guskey, 1988; Ghaith & Yaghi, 1997). In addition to positive
attitudes toward innovation, Allinder (1994) found teacher self-efficacy correlated
with teacher organization and planning. High efficacy teachers were found to
have less stress (Greenwood et al., 1990) and have a greater sense of commitment
to the teaching profession (Coladarci, 1992).
33


Directions for Research
As the concept of teacher self-efficacy matured, Labone (2004) identified
a need for new perspectives for research. She suggested that researchers examine
more thoroughly the sources of teacher self-efficacy and that they broaden the
concept to include teacher competencies in areas that promote social justice and
improve life skills of students.
Review of Literature in the Safe Teacher Model
The Safe Teacher Model that guides this inquiry is based in the literature
of school bullying and teacher self-efficacy. Each of the four source categories
(mastery experiences, vicarious experiences, verbal/social persuasion, and
affective state) of teacher self-efficacy is elaborated to reflect applications of
current understandings from the literature from both fields. The proposed version
of the Safe Teacher Model provides the blueprint for this study.
The Safe Teacher Model includes contributing factors from both personal
and environmental sources of teacher self-efficacy. This alignment is consistent
with social cognitive theory (Bandura, 1997), which describes human activity as
determined by the interplay of personal factors, environmental factors, and
behavior (see Figure 2.1). In this model, the interplay of factors is demonstrated
when teachers reflect upon both personal and environmental factors before
34


making a task-specific judgment of their efficacy to engage in bullying prevention
activities.
Mastery Experiences
The proposed Safe Teacher Model begins by recognizing the importance
of a teachers personal experience and prior success in bullying prevention.
Experiences of success in bullying prevention or teaching curriculums designed to
improved students prosocial skills may provide a powerful source of efficacy
information (Bandura, 1997). In a longitudinal study of the experiences of a first
year teacher, mastery experiences had positive effects upon the teachers self-
efficacy and persistence in the teaching profession (Mulholland & Wallace,
2001). Mastery experiences were the teachers ability to conduct successful
lessons, organize the required materials, and manage the students classroom
behavior. On the other hand, while the study also found positive effects of verbal
persuasion on the teachers efficacy beliefs, the teachers vicarious experiences
and affective state appeared to have a negative effect.
Vicarious Experiences
While vicarious experiences may be school-wide, as described in the
previous study, individual events may also contribute to a teachers motivation.
In a study of student teachers assigned to read autobiographies from diverse
cultural perspectives, the student teachers reported new beliefs and attitudes, as
35


well as an increase in personal practical knowledge and confidence to take action
(Conle et al., 2002).
Verbal/Social Persuasion
Yerbal/social persuasion is the third source of teacher self-efficacy.
Verbal persuasion may come in the form of specialized teacher training in
bullying prevention, which positively affects teacher self-efficacy (Newman-
Carlson & Home, 2004; Fritz et al., 1995). Mentoring by more experienced
teachers may also provide efficacy information, especially in the area of
classroom management (Rushton, 2003). When teachers receive support of others,
it may serve as a persuasive source of efficacy (Hoy & Spero, 2005). In a study of
a teacher who experienced challenges to her teaching, Milner (2002) found that
the verbal feedback from students, parents, and colleagues were the most
important factors in the maintenance of her self-efficacy and persistence in the
teaching profession, along with mastery experiences
The school climate, especially the leadership of the principal, may
contribute to teacher self-efficacy (Hoy & Woolfolk, 1993). When principals
maintain clear discipline policies and expectations for supervision, it increases the
likelihood that teachers will have the confidence to participate in maintaining a
safe and orderly environment (Astor et al., 1999). In such schools where teachers
perceive that bullying prevention is an important activity, teachers are more likely
to be involved in bullying prevention (Kallestad & Olweus, 2003).
36


Optimally, schools and communities will have internalized norms and
values that bullying is an unacceptable behavior. Teachers reported improvements
in the social adjustment of students and increased achievement after
implementation of school-wide programs to prevent disruptive behavior at seven
elementary schools (Nelson et al., 2002). After two years, teachers in the study
indicated that they would recommend similar programs to other teachers and were
generally supportive. In a study of almost 14,000 middle school students in
Canada, three school climate factors contributed significantly to bullying
prevention: a climate of discipline in which students had internalized prosocial
norms, parental involvement, and a strong academic focus (Ma, 2001). In a study
of 18 schools in Wisconsin, schools were found to differ significantly from each
other on factors that influence the prevalence of bullying such as openness to
diversity, willingness of teachers to intervene, and equity (Holt & Keyes, 2004).
Affective State/Attitudes
A teachers affective state refers to her/his emotions, attitudes, and
physiological responses that provide the fourth source of efficacy beliefs
(Bandura, 1997). Emotional states vary in duration, perceived intensity, and
meaning ascribed by individuals, which make affective sources of efficacy
information difficult to assess (Bandura, 1997). Therefore, in this study, teachers
expressed attitudes and beliefs are considered as indicators of underlying
emotional states and as potential activators of efficacy beliefs.
37


A sense of caring for students is foundational to effective teaching in
general as well as a teachers ability to prevent bullying (Collinson et al., 1999).
In a study of 4,600 middle school students, Chang (2003) found that the teachers
attitudes of overall warmth and specific expressions of aversion to aggression and
empathy toward withdrawn students increased peer acceptance. In a study of 98
elementary teachers, feelings of empathy for victims contributed to a sense that
bullying prevention is important and increased teachers willingness and
confidence to participate in prevention activities (Yoon, 2004). Overall, teachers
who have a sense that their professional role includes a responsibility to take
actions that prevent bullying are more likely to feel motivated and confident about
intervening in cases of bullying (Behre et al., 2001).
Teacher Overall Self-Efficacy and Collective Efficacy
In addition to the four source areas, a teachers overall sense of efficacy
contributes to the task-specific sense of efficacy in bullying prevention (Yoon,
2004). The input of a teachers overall sense of personal competence is addressed
by Tschannen-Moran et al., (1998) as part of the cognitive processing in the
integrated model of teacher self-efficacy (see Figure 1.1). At this step, a teacher
reflects upon both the specific task at hand and her/his competence as a teacher
before arriving at a sense of efficacy in the context of the situation.
Likewise, the collective sense of efficacy at a school is related to the
individual teachers sense of efficacy (Goddard et al., 2000). In a study of 438
38


teachers, Goddard and Goddard (2001) found that collective efficacy predicted
the variation in teacher efficacy beyond factors of socio-economic status and
student achievement. Therefore, in addition to the four source areas that may
supply efficacy information to some teachers, the Safe Teacher Model
acknowledges the contributions of teachers overall perceptions of their teaching
abilities as well as their perceptions of the collective efficacy of the school.
39


CHAPTER 3
METHODOLOGY
Design of the Study
Reflection on the literature from the diverse fields of school bullying and
teacher self-efficacy and the subsequent development of the proposed version of
the Safe Teacher Model served to shape the specific research questions. The
underlying question of this study was, How do teachers develop self-efficacy in
bullying prevention? To address this line of inquiry, two research questions
were developed to guide the research:
1. In what ways does the Safe Teacher Model (Figure 1.2) reflect the
experiences of middle school teachers who are identified as exemplary in bullying
prevention?
2. What are additional themes beyond the Safe Teacher Model that
emerge that account for teachers self-efficacy in bullying prevention?
The first decision in the design of the study was to examine the
experiences of exemplary teachers in preventing school bullying. This decision
\
was shaped by the literature that suggests that there exists a wide range of
involvement in bullying prevention activities among teachers (Harris &
40


Willoughby, 2003; Kallestad & Olweus, 2003). Rather than viewing the problem
from a deficit perspective, in this study the experiences of those teachers who
successfully engage in bullying prevention were examined, in order to learn how
their confidence developed, with the goal of informing the practice of teacher
preparation in mind.
A qualitative research design in two phases was used to address the
research questions. In phase one, the objective was to identify critical case
participants (Polkinghome, 2005) who would serve as the candidate pool for
phase two of the study. For the purposes of this research, the critical cases were
exemplary teachers in bullying prevention who were selected for their insights
based on their relevant experiences. The study of exemplary performers has been
used in prior studies to add to the understanding of teacher practice (Ladsen-
Billings, 1994; Williams, 2003). This approach is supported by the belief that the
study of expert performers.. .offers a nearly untapped reservoir of knowledge
about optimal training (Ericsson & Chamess, 1997, p. 34.)
The unit of analysis for this study was the formative experiences of the
exemplary teachers. Once teachers were identified, their experiences were
examined using narrative inquiry methods (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000). In the
tradition of Bruner (1986), story and narrative are used to understand the human
interactions that provide the basis of this study. Narrative inquiry is the most
appropriate methodology because narrative inquiry is a way of understanding
41


experience.. .narrative inquiry is stories lived and told (Clandinin & Connelly,
2000, p. 20). This method allowed for a systematic study of personal experience
and the meaning that the active participants ascribe to events (Riessman, 1993).
Narrative inquiry practices are well suited to studies that seek to
understand teacher expertise and have been used in other similar studies (Conle et
al., 2002; Mulholland & Wallace, 2001; Olson, 2000). Lyons and LaBoskey
(2002) define narrative practices as:
intentional, reflective human actions, socially and contextually situated, in
which teachers with their students, other colleagues, or researchers,
interrogate their teaching practices to construct the meaning and
interpretation of some compelling or puzzling aspect of teaching and
learning through the production of narratives that lead to understanding,
changed practices, and new hypotheses, (p. 21)
Researcher Reflexivity
In the tradition of qualitative research, the researchers assumptions were
examined early in the study as part of verification that occurs throughout the data
collection and analysis process (Creswell, 1998). The transparency of researcher
bias is a critical step in the development of the trustworthiness and authenticity of
a study (Lincoln & Guba, 1985). In this case, the researcher has extensive
experience as a middle school teacher and school counselor and therefore brings
what Morrow (2005) refers to as insider information concerning school culture
and the phenomena of school bullying. While this experience was helpful to
42


establish rapport with the participants in the study, it also shaped the assumption
that teachers have a professional responsibility to be proactive in their efforts to
create and maintain a safe learning environment for all students. In addition, the
researchers experience also contributed to the development of the proposed
version of the Safe Teacher Model.
Sampling Procedures
Site Selection
One metropolitan area school district was approached to serve as the site
for the study because its schools presented a varied range in student
demographics. Although it is a suburban district, some schools report
achievement levels and socio-economic concerns generally associated with urban
schools. School district approval to conduct external research was secured before
inviting each middle school principal to participate in the study. When two
principals expressed initial interest, a preliminary review of the demographics and
accountability reports for each school was conducted. The schools were found to
be diverse settings representative of the range of schools in the district, which
would provide two distinct contexts in which to examine the experiences of
teachers. After a briefing in which the intent of the study, the involvement of
school staff, and the specific instruments were reviewed, both principals agreed to
participate.
43


The middle school level was selected intentionally because studies
indicate that middle school students report the highest levels of bullying (Eslea &
Rees, 2001; Harris & Petrie, 2002; Haynie et al., 2001; Nansel et al., 2001). At
each school, the same teacher selection process was used. No pre-determined
number of exemplary teachers was specified in order to avoid excluding
appropriate subjects.
School Site Demographics
The participating middle schools were compared using data from the
reports generated by the Colorado Department of Education (2005). Both schools
served students in grades 6, 7, and 8. The schools were of similar size with Vista
Green Middle School having 841 students and Sky Blue Middle School reporting
973 students during the year of the study. The schools were part of the same
school district, and therefore, had comparable resources including personnel and
equipment allocations. On average, teachers in both schools had similar levels of
teaching experience (10 years for Vista Green Middle School and 11 years for
Sky Blue Middle School).
However, each had distinct populations, as described on state
accountability reports and summarized in Table 3.1. Vista Green Middle School
had consistently been rated as a low school on state academic performance
indicators (on a 5-point scale from unsatisfactory to excellent), while Sky
Blue Middle School had improved to a high rating from average the prior
44


year. The student population at Vista Green Middle School was more ethnically
diverse than the population at Sky Blue Middle School.
Table 3.1 Comparison of participating schools
School Vista Green MS Sky Blue MS
Student population 841 973
Overall academic performance Low High
Free/ reduced lunch rate 60.0% 13.2%
# of safety/ discipline incidents 728 258
Student ethnicity Native American 2.5% Hispanic 42.7% African American 3.7% Asian 3.6% Caucasian 47.6% Native American <1% Hispanic 14.0% African American 2.5% Asian 5.7% Caucasian 76.8%
The most significant contrasts between the two middle schools were socio-
economic status of the students as reflected in the reported rates of free and
reduced lunch. Vista Green Middle School indicated that 60% of their students
qualified as compared to only 13.2% who qualified at Sky Blue Middle School.
Of particular interest to this study were the differences in the reported rates of
safety and discipline incidents; Vista Green Middle School reported almost three
times the number of incidents as Sky Blue Middle School (728 versus 258).
45


While neither school has adopted a bullying prevention curriculum, both
schools currently participate in a student behavior system called Positive Behavior
Support (PBSsee Appendix E), shown to be effective in improving student
behavior and making school public areas safer (Oswald, Saffan, & Johanson,
2005). Sky Blue Middle School is in their second full year of implementation of
PBS while Vista Green Middle School is in the first year using the PBS system
after completing a development year.
Teacher Selection Process
To identify teachers who were exemplary in bullying prevention, a
selection process that draws from multiple constituencies was used (Palmer et al.,
2005). The nomination process has been used by other similar studies to identify
exemplary teachers (Brophy & McCaslin, 1992; Collinson et al., 1999; Ladsen-
Billings, 1994; Williams, 2002).
In this study, an exemplary teacher checklist (Appendix A) guided the
selection process. The checklist describes teacher attributes related to bullying
prevention based on the principles developed by Olweus (1993). These principles
are (a) a warm supportive environment, (b) clear limits on unacceptable behavior,
(c) consistent and fair consequences for violations of rules, and (d) a teacher who
is respected as an authority and a positive role model. The checklist based on
consistent criteria served to assist the administrators and counselors with making
informed nominations of exemplary teachers.
46


In order to strengthen the selection process, three constituencies provided
nominations (Figure 3.1). Two administrators and a counselor at each school were
asked to complete the checklist by naming teachers on their faculty that exactly
met the criteria. Administrators were selected to provide teacher nominations
because of their explicit knowledge of the discipline process and their awareness
of teachers who perform at high levels of bullying prevention. In addition,
nominations were requested from school counselors because of their role in
students personal/social education and as school personnel who have been shown
to promote students sense of safety (Lapan et al., 2003). Therefore, counselors
provided another perspective concerning teachers who excel at bullying
prevention.
Figure 3.1 Teacher Selection Process
In addition to administrators and counselors, the third constituency for the
selection of exemplary teachers was students. The students at each middle school
47


were surveyed anonymously using the Revised Bully/Victim Questionnaire
(Olweus, 1996), a standardized instrument widely used to provide schools with
information on the level of bullying that occurs in the school. This instrument was
selected based upon studies in which researchers found the questionnaire to have
internal consistency reliability ranging from .66 to .95 (Pellegrini, Bartini, &
Brooks, 1999; Pellegrini & Bartini, 2000). Other researchers recommended the
questionnaire as the best instrument for systematic investigation of the level of
bullying with middle school student populations (Crothers & Levinson, 2004).
In this study, the Revised Bully/Victim Questionnaire served two
purposes. First, the questionnaire provided the participating schools with
meaningful data concerning the perceived level of bullying among their students.
Second, the questionnaire prompted students to consider a more comprehensive
list of activities as bullying rather than only physical aggression. Because the
questionnaire asks questions concerning verbal and relational bullying along with
physical bullying, it was hoped that students would have a more complete
understanding of bully behaviors after completing the survey.
Once students completed the Revised Bully/Victim Questionnaire, they
were asked to respond to an additional question: Who are teachers at your school
who let everyone know that bullying is not acceptable and who make all students
feel safe at school? Write their names in the lines below. Responses to this
48


question were considered as a student nomination of an exemplary teacher in
bullying prevention.
Data from Revised Bully/Victim Questionnaire
Results from the Revised/Bully Victim Questionnaire were summarized
and presented to each school for their confidential internal use in their school
improvement process. There was no statistically significant difference between
schools in the overall reported level of bullying, t (173) = .11 A, p = .440, or the
rate of victimization, t (177) = 1.579, p = .116. Results of selected questions are
presented in Table 3.2.
Table 3.2 Student reports of bullying and victimization
How often have you been bullied at school in the past couple of months?
Vista Green MS (n = 94) Sky Blue MS (n = 90)
havent been bullied 62.8% 70.0%
once or twice 20.2% 18.9%
2 or 3 times 6.4% 5.6%
once a week 5.3% 1.1%
several times a week 5.3% 4.4%
How often have you taken part in bullying another student(s) at school in the past
couple of months?____________________________________________________________________
Vista Green MS (n = 93) Sky Blue MS (n= 88)
havent bullied 60.2% 69.3%
once or twice 29.0% 22.7%
2 or 3 times 5.4% 4.5%
once a week 3.2% 2.3%
several times a week 2.2% 1.1%
49


The aggregated findings from both schools show that 14.2% students
reported being victimized, as indicated by the combined-responses of 2 or 3
times, once a week, and several times a week. This is slightly higher than
the victimization reported on the prior large-scale study conducted by Nansel et
al. (2001), where 10.6% indicated being bullied. The percentage of those who
report engaging in bullying behaviors was 9.4%, as indicated by those report
bullying 2 or 3 times, once a week, and several times a week. This
compares to 13% of students who report bullying in the national study.
Student Nomination Question Data
Approximately 100 students at each school representing grades 6, 7, and 8
participated in the bullying survey. This sampling provided a cross section of the
student population. As a result, a large number of teachers were named in
response to the final question, in which students identified teachers who were
exemplary at preventing bullying. Almost two-thirds of the teachers in the two
schools (63.9%) were named by one or more students, who generally named their
current teachers.
In addition to naming teachers, some students (27.7%) listed
administrators, counselors, or the school resource officer in response to the
nomination question. One student wrote all principals, all counselors, some
teachers. However, 21.7% of students could name no teacher that they believed
let everyone know that bullying is not acceptable and make all students feel safe.
1
50


While some students left the teacher nomination question blank, three students
wrote no one in each blank.
A list of potential candidates was generated by a comparison of the names
of teachers nominated by administrators, counselors, and students. All three
constituencies agreed upon the nomination of six teachers, who were then
contacted to determine their willingness to participate in the study. After being
briefed about the studys purpose and the time commitment, five teachers agreed
to participate (the sixth teacher was on maternity leave). Each teacher signed a
letter of informed consent before the study proceeded. Two of the teachers were
from one of the middle schools while three were teachers at the other school in
the study.
Participant Demographics
The demographic traits of the teachers who were identified by principals,
counselors, and students are summarized in Table 3.3. All were experienced
teachers with at least 4 years of teaching experiences and had been at their current
school for a minimum of 3 years. The sample represents some diversity; two were
male while three were female teachers, two of the five had earned masters
degrees, and the teachers taught a variety of subject areas and grade levels.
51


Table 3.3 Participant demographics
Pseudonym Gender Level of Education Current Subject/ Grade(s) Years at Current School Total Years Teaching Experience
Bill Gordon male MBA Science 7 & 8 9 9
Grace Harrington female MA Spanish & Reading 6,7, & 8 8 9
Matt Jacob male BA Social Studies 8 3 9
Shannon Parker female BA Science 6 4 4
Erin Thomas female BA English 7 5 24
Data Collection: Narrative Inquiry Process
In the tradition of narrative inquiry, the research was a collaborative
experience between researcher and participants (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000).
The researcher role was that of a participant observer. Semi-structured interviews
and observations were conducted in order to capture the stories of the exemplary
teachers.
Two sixty-minute interviews were digitally recorded with each teacher at
approximately one-week intervals. This timing was selected to increase validity,
by minimizing the effect of an exceptional day and by providing teachers with
time for reflection between interviews (Seidman, 1998). Each of the two
52


interviews was guided by a protocol of general questions, with probes as needed
(Appendix B), in order to give greater control to the participants in telling their
stories (Riessman, 1993). The interview questions were phrased to invite the
participants to share full, detailed stories (Chase, 2003). The first interview
emphasized personal sources of the teachers self-efficacy in bullying prevention,
and the second focused on environmental factors.
Teachers were also observed both during class time and as they interacted
with students outside of the classroom. Observations provided evidence of the
teachers use of bullying prevention principles and served to place the interviews
into context. The observations were guided by a protocol (Appendix C) based on
the principles of bullying prevention (Olweus, 1993) that were used in the
nomination process. Those principles were expanded to include specific
indicators of teacher interpersonal relationships (Wubbels & Levy, 1993).
Ethical Issues
In order to provide a confidential research environment, the following
procedures were used, as approved by the Universitys Human Subjects Review
Committee. Pseudonyms were used for the teachers, students, and schools. The
student surveys were anonymous. Principals were encouraged to notify parents of
the student survey in the schools newsletter and to report group results to school
and parent groups, as they deemed appropriate.
53


Teachers were given the option to explain the presence of a researcher in
the school as an observer conducting a study of bullying prevention programs
rather than as an observation of exemplary teachers in bullying prevention, which
could have provided cause for teacher embarrassment among colleagues.
Teachers participated only if they signed a letter of informed consent (Appendix
D) and were able to preview all passages that pertained to them, for accuracy and
intent. All data including digital files, transcripts, student surveys, and field notes
will be stored in a locked file cabinet in the researchers office for at least three
years.
Data Analysis
Interviews were transcribed verbatim, and field notes prepared from the
observations and observation protocols. Coding was completed using NVIVO
software (version 7.0) using the themes in the Safe Teacher Model as a template,
but also allowing for open coding (Miles & Huberman, 1994). The coding was
conducted as an iterative process to allow for clarification of initial codes and the
addition of emerging factors. The resulting codebook was then used to review the
experiences of all of the teachers.
Codebook Development
The codebook was developed from the iterative analysis of the data with
two purposes in mind. The first purpose was to increase the clarity and definition
54


of the factors in the model; the second purpose was to add to the model as new
factors developed from the data. The resulting codebook, including the original
factors, those that emerged in the data analysis process, and indicators of the
factors, are listed in Appendix F.
Some original items from the model were divided for the coding process.
The factor support from students, parents, and colleagues was separated for
coding into four sub-factors: (a) support from students, (b) support from
parents, (c) support from co-workers, and (d) support from administrators.
Similarly, the factor of attitude of care and empathy for students was divided
into attitude of care for students and empathy for students.
Vocabulary was also adjusted to reflect the data. The factor of supportive
school climate was renamed as systemic support for bullying prevention to
reflect accurately the teachers specific comments concerning school-wide
programs, supervision policies, and school norms.
The open coding process also resulted in additions to the proposed Safe
Teacher Model. As coding was conducted on both interview transcripts and
observation field texts, the factors that were part of the observation protocol
(Appendix C) were clearly evident in the open coding process. Therefore, the
codebook evolved to include successful use of effective classroom management
strategies and extracurricular interest in students. These factors were derived
55


from the principles of bullying prevention (Olweus, 1993) and effective
classroom management guidelines (Wubbels & Levy, 1993).
The use of open coding also resulted in the identification of the following
factors as they emerged as themes in teachers experiences: prior career or
personal experiences, teacher leadership roles, negative examples of
classroom management, and sensitivity to student culture and social
development. As each new factor emerged, the experiences of the five teachers
were examined in light of the new factor.
Verification Process
In order to improve the trustworthiness and authenticity of the findings,
the following verification procedures were used in this study as suggested by
Creswell (1998):
1. Triangulation was used by collecting data from multiple sources and
using multiple methods to examine the evidence from different perspectives. The
nomination process itself collected data from three sources (students,
administrators, and counselors). Three methods were then used: the nomination
process, interviewing, and observation.
2. Researcher bias has been clarified (see Researcher Reflexivity in this
chapter) in order to make transparent any assumptions and previous experience
that would likely shape the interpretations.
56


3. Member checks were used with all participating teachers to verify the .
within-case field text stories and to confirm the major themes identified in each
story.
4. Detailed description is provided for each teachers story in order to
examine the transferability of the interpretations.
5. An external audit was conducted by two identified experts. The cross
case analysis was examined to review the decisions made concerning the
refinement to the Safe Teacher Model. The audit participants represented
expertise in teacher preparation and research methods.
Within-Case and Cross-Case Analysis
Using the resulting codebook (Appendix F) and the above verification
procedures, data were analyzed both as within-case studies and as cross-case
comparisons (Miles & Huberman, 1994). Each teachers case was first considered
as a unique experience that contributed to her/his teacher self-efficacy. From the
coding reports, each factor in the codebook was rated as a major influence, a
minor influence, or not present in the teachers story. The criteria used to
determine how the factor was labeled were twofold. First, the factor was
examined within the coding reports quantitatively; that is, each factor was
reviewed to see the number of references each teacher made to the factor and the
coverage of the factor within the sources, as described by the NYIVO reports.
Second, the factor was reviewed qualitatively to determine the intensity of the
57


experience for each teacher. To verify the resulting interpretation, each teacher
reviewed and confirmed the factors determined to be major influences
contributing to bullying prevention self-efficacy.
Based on the identified major influences from the coding reports, as well
as from the transcripts and field notes, each teachers story was described in a
research text (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000). Each teacher was provided a copy of
his/her story and asked to make corrections in factual detail or inference. The
resulting teachers stories are presented in Chapter 4.
The teachers cases also were considered together for cross-case
comparison, and the resulting themes were used to refine the Safe Teacher Model.
The results of this analysis are presented in Chapter 5.
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CHAPTER 4
FIVE CASES
In this chapter, the stories of the teachers identified as exemplary in
bullying prevention are presented. Pseudonyms are used for teachers, students,
and schools. Each teacher has confirmed both the factual data and inferences
made concerning the sources of their teacher self-efficacy information. The
within-case analysis stories emphasize the major themes as identified by each
teacher in the member-check verification process.
There is no implication that teachers who identify a greater number of
sources have more self-efficacy as a safe teacher, or that teachers who do not
identify a particular source of efficacy information are deficient. The teachers
experiences are unique in both intensity and meaning to the individual, and
consequently contribute in distinct ways to the teachers own self-efficacy
judgments. Each is an exemplary teacher as identified by their colleagues and
students, and each is committed to the maintenance of a safe school environment
for all students.
59


Bill Gordons Story
It was the last hour of the day for the 28 seventh graders who boisterously
entered the science room and quickly took their assigned seats. There was some
maneuvering of tables to allow two students in wheelchairs to move into their
places.
When the bell rang for class to begin, one student distributed the science
notebooks while Mr. Gordon explained that todays lesson was a lab experiment
on blood types. Mr. Gordon explained that each team would test four artificial
blood solutions with drops of antigens to look for reactions. One member from
each team then moved to the counter to collect the equipment for the experiment.
Just as the students were returning to their seats, the fire alarm sounded.
Mr. Gordon reacted efficiently, and students seemed aware of the appropriate
procedures. First, the two students in wheelchairs were allowed to exit from the
room. While Mr. Gordon collected his attendance roster, the remaining students
filed out of the room and lined up outside the school building. Mr. Gordon talked
andjoked as he moved among his students as they waited for the signal to return
to class. After approximately five minutes outside, the students returned to class.
The students were noisy and excited when they re-entered the room, but they
quickly returned to the lab experiment and, despite the interruption and lost time,
were able to complete the lab experiment by the end of the class period.
60


Bill Gordon has taught at Vista Green Middle School for nine years. It is a
school where 60% of the students qualify for the free or reduced lunch program,
and overall academic performance is low, according to state accountability
testing. Bill has been at Vista Green for his entire teaching career as a teacher of
physical and life science for students in grades 7 and 8.
The above scene is one example of how Bill Gordon facilitates a safe
classroom environment and demonstrates the skills that have earned him the
reputation as an exemplary teacher in classroom management. In the following
section, Bills experiences are examined to explore the factors that contribute to
the development of his self-efficacy in bullying prevention and classroom
management.
Early Experiences
Bill remembered being bullied as he was growing up: I was always the
smallest kid in my class, always. His family was in the military, so that meant
frequent moves and new schools. He recalled specifically that his junior high
years were difficult in a school that was exactly like [this school]. I mean,
demographics, right down the board. However, he also recalled having good
friends: My best friend was always the biggest kid, and learning to deal with the
bullies.
When Bill completed college with a degree in animal science, he worked
as a cowboy and for a gas pipeline company before returning to school to earn a
61


masters degree in business administration. He then worked for several firms,
including an automobile salvage company. From those experiences, Bill reported
that he feels he can better focus on what is important for students to learn. Career
interactions with others have helped by providing him with a cultural
understanding of his students saying:
that helps me here in this building. Everyone I worked with in the
company except for the top few came from a poverty culture, so that gave
me a lot of exposure to understanding these kids, their parents. Its a
definite benefit to understand what the kids say, what the parents say. You
have to take them a different way; its different from middle class white
America.
Bill also noted that by the time he returned to school to complete his
teacher preparation and begin his student teaching, his two sons were already in
middle school. He viewed both his parenting experience and his prior career
experiences as an advantage to his ability to be an effective teacher. He came to
Vista Green Middle School as a student teacher and then continued on staff.
Teaching Experience
During his first year, Bill had a negative experience with one group of
students that shaped his personal philosophy of classroom management. He said:
My first year of teaching I had [a group of students] that owned me. Oh,
God, it was awful... It was only a class of about 24 -25 kids, and on any
given day 6 of them would be ditching, so I was only facing about 18 kids,
but, my God, they abused me. So I swore the next year, That will never
happen again. I dont deserve to be treated like that.
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As part of assuring that he would not repeat this experience, Bill became a
keen observer of the classroom management skills of his colleagues. His
observations included both positive and negative examples of classroom
management strategies and bullying prevention approaches. He acknowledged
that he has had good team members who provided him with positive models, but
he also notes that he has observed teachers who have low expectations of
behavior from students. He also specifically has observed the differing behaviors
of teachers concerning bullying saying:
Lots of teachers deal with [bullying] very effectively. Those are the
teachers who are willing to call the students on it. Some teachers are
willing to ignore it-1 call them the deaf and the blind- those are the
teachers who have problems with bullying in their classrooms. If you
have the courage to step up and say, This is not accepted ever at any
time, you dont have the problem so you dont have to deal with it.
There are lots of teachers that you see in this building who are willing to
do that. When they see something that doesnt look right in the hallway,
they step in. They have the courage, the fortitude, whatever it is, to step
forward and say, Hey, whats happening? Thats what makes kids feel
safe around teachers, not just that the teacher makes them feel physically
safe, probably more that the teacher makes them feel emotionally secure.
In his current leadership role as the facilitator of a school-wide program
called Positive Behavior Support (PBS see Appendix E), Bill is in the position
to address the entire school staff on discipline and student behavior issues. He
has utilized his observations of real-life events at the school to provide both
positive and negative examples of teacher behavior toward students for staff
professional development. He said, I am sure there were people who recognized
63


themselves [in the examples I used]. He also believes that the level of respect of
staff for students has improved since the implementation of the PBS program,
now in its second year at Vista Green Middle School.
Bill cited many examples of specific students with whom he has worked
that have contributed mastery experiences to his self-efficacy in bullying
prevention. He revealed a thorough understanding of both bully and victims
behaviors, and he has successfully worked with students with both issues. He told
the story of Tommy, a student with special needs, who would refuse to take his
seat in order for the class to be dismissed at the end of the day, behavior that
infuriated his classmates and made him a bully magnet, as Bill calls students
who are frequent targets of bullying. Through individual conferences, Bill helped
Tommy to see how he was angering his classmates and how a better decision to
be seated at the appropriate time would reduce the conflict. He said, I will pull
kids into the hallway or even off into the comer of the room, if there is an activity
going on. Then I can talk to them. And thats the case for both [bullies and
victims].
Bill told another story of Brad, a student who made negative remarks
about other students clothing, which other students perceived as harassing.
Again, through individual meetings, Bill helped Brad to see how hurtful his
comments were to other students saying, Lets work on what you are
communicating. By providing him with clear limits on his behavior, Bill reports,
64


He turned into a pretty good kid by the end of last year. Sometimes working with
a kid is just being the rock or the hard place.
In addition to working directly with students who exhibit bullying or
victim behaviors, Bill conducts a safe classroom in which effective management
strategies are evident. As evident in the opening story, he uses clear classroom
procedures, is an authority figure and role model, and is alert to student activity.
He said, [Students] need consistency.. .they need some one who is going to tell
them something they can believe, that they can count on.
A mutual respect is evident in his interactions with students. Indicating his
interest in students outside of the classroom, Bill is the wrestling coach and
sponsors the Zoo Club, an extracurricular activity for students interested in animal
biology. He reported that students often return from high school to visit him,
which demonstrates a lasting rapport. He said, Some of the kids I am the
toughest on, I just cant get them out of my room at the end of the day.
Summary of Efficacy Sources
Bill Gordons story reflects a growing sense of teacher self-efficacy in the
ability to provide a safe, bully-free classroom environment, as summarized in
Table 4.1 below. His mastery experiences were first provided by his prior career
and parenting role. His first year of teaching provided a negative mastery
experience with his difficult class, an experience akin to falling off a bicycle
before learning to ride. After that experience, he has had many positive
65


experiences with classroom management and bullying prevention that have been
influential to his self-efficacy.
Table 4.1 Maj or themes in Bill Gordons story
Mastery Experiences
Prior successes with bullying prevention
Successful use of effective classroom management strategies
Prior career and personal experiences
Teacher leadership roles
Vicarious Experiences
Positive examples of classroom management
Negative examples of classroom management
Verbal/Social Persuasion
Support from students
Systemic support for bullying prevention
Affective State/Beliefs
Extracurricular interest in students
Sensitivity to student culture and social development
Sense of responsibility for bullying prevention
Bills role as the PBS facilitator at Vista Green Middle School has
influenced Bills efficacy beliefs. The school-wide PBS program has supported
his confidence in his classroom management skills and provided him with the
opportunity to serve in a leadership role with his colleagues.
Vicarious experiences have been especially significant for Bill Gordon.
His observations of both positive and negative examples of classroom
66


management and bullying prevention have served as a source of his personal
repertoire of skills and behaviors.
Verbal/social persuasion of self-efficacy is provided to Bill from his
students and from the systemic support he receives through the PBS program. He
enjoys the respect of his students and has a positive rapport with students both in
and out of the classroom.
Bills affective state and attitudes are shaped by his understanding of his
students culture and his sense of responsibility for bullying prevention. Bill
summarizes the importance of a safe classroom saying:
Whatever comes up, the teacher is going to deal with it.. .For a lot our
kids, thats a big issue.. .They are headed home and they have no idea
whats going to happen that day, that night, the next morning. Whereas
when they come into your classroom, when they walk in the door, they
know exactly whos in charge, they know exactly whats going to happen
and that nothing bad is going to happen, then they feel safe.. .and they
learn.
Grace Harringtons Story
It was the class before lunch for the 34 sixth graders in Mrs. Harringtons
Spanish Exploration class. Students were reviewing their knowledge of the
Spanish words for parts of the body through a vocabulary game that appeared
familiar to the students. On the board were the Spanish words, and the rows of
students served as relay teams. When two students came to the board, they each


had a flyswatter in their hand. When Mrs. Harrington said the English wordfor a
body part, they would attempt to slap the corresponding Spanish word on the
board; if they were first, they earned a point for their team and continued to play;
otherwise they handed the flyswatter to the next player.
Despite the potential for misbehavior or silliness (6th graders, words for
body parts, flyswatters, 34 students in the class right before lunch), the students
were engaged in the game and attentive when their classmates were at the board.
No student questioned the verdict, although some expressedfrustration at their
performance saying, It was right in front of me! Mrs. Harrington would
console them with positive comments, Thats okay they all blend together
sometimes, and That was a good try. The game continued until all students
had the opportunity to participate.
Grace Harrington is in her ninth year of teaching, and all but her first year
of teaching have been at her current school, Sky Blue Middle School. The school
serves predominantly middle class students. According to state accountability
testing, students at the school demonstrate high academic achievement. Grace
teaches Spanish language, including an exploration course for students in grade 6,
Spanish I, and Spanish II. She also teaches a reading course for students who are
below grade level in reading achievement.
The above scene is one example of the classroom management skills that
contribute to the reputation of Grace Harrington as an exemplaiy teacher in
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providing a safe classroom environment. The scene illustrates her emphasis on a
supportive classroom environment and her ability to facilitate classroom activities
in a safe, controlled environment where students understand the boundaries of
acceptable behavior. In the following section, Grace Harringtons experiences are
examined to explore the factors that contribute to the development of her self-
efficacy to maintain a safe and bully-free classroom environment.
Early Experiences
Grace recalled experiences of bullying from her childhood. In one
situation as a very young child, she remembered walking home from school with
her brother, being taunted and pushed by other students. She vividly recalled her
mothers outrage and attempt to find the offending children by going to their
neighborhood and calling for them to come out.
Grace also related stories of bullying by teachers in elementary school that
made a lasting impression. In one incident, she reported that she was asked to
work a math problem on the board and struggling. She recalled:
[The teacher] says to me, Grace is such a bird brain. I bet she doesnt
even know her way home from school. Now, how would I remember
those words? I was mortified.... She didnt say to me, But Grace is so
good at language arts. Shes having a little trouble with the math. Can
someone in the class help her out? Thats what I would do. That would
never happen in my classroom. So I walked back to my desk feeling
deflated, defeated, Oh, my gosh, Im not worth living. That was pretty
powerful for me. You expect it to come from other kids, but to come from
someone who is supposed to make you feel good about yourself and safe
[was devastating].
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Grace also remembered her anxiety at being a new student in a large high
school, after years in a small private school. She recalled her relief when one
student introduced herself: She was like a one-person welcoming committee, and
I have told her that at class reunions. Such experiences shaped her understanding
of students affective needs and influenced her philosophy that a good teacher is
one who cares for students, shows empathy, and establishes a safe and supportive
classroom environment.
Another factor in the development of Graces self-efficacy was her
extensive experience in another career before becoming a teacher. She spent over
twenty years in retail management working in a variety of capacities, including
human resources manager, corporate buyer, and store-level management. When
her daughter entered college, Grace felt the time was right for her to return to
school: I had that unfinished business to do. She attributed much of her ability
to address classroom safety issues to her prior career experience. She said, I
think handling those difficult customers in retail they would sometimes be
bullying my sales staff... I was in that delicate place that I had to make them both
feel that they were right.
In terms of teacher preparation for classroom management and bullying
prevention, Grace had a mixed reaction to the training she received. She believes
her undergraduate work only mentioned safe classroom strategies: That would be
an area where new teachers coming into the field could definitely use some more
70


about what we are teaching you but also about your social growth, your
self-esteem, and a smooth transition into adulthood. Thats really one of
the big pieces that we at middle school do. And I know when they look
back, they wont always remember what we taught them, but theyll
remember how we treated them. So that becomes more critical than the
curriculum at that point.
Her teacher self-efficacy was further enhanced when she was selected to
be part of the first staff at Sky Blue Middle School. Her pride in this is evident: I
was very fortunate to be part of the inaugural staff. [The principal] hand-picked
her staff. The school design also was reinforcing for her as a teacher of the
Spanish language because Sky Blue Middle School was conceptualized as a world
language school: We offer three languages, and we expect that all students will
take world language. She noted that collectively the school staff is making a
difference for kids. We have moved up to high achieving [the top level of student
achievement on the states accountability report] this year.
Grace was enthusiastic about the many school-wide programs that support
student success and positive climate. She participates as a committee member on
the PBS program because that is a passion area for me. She also identified
support from administrators, counselors and the school resource officer as key to
her ability to maintain a safe classroom in terms of supporting classroom
discipline and contributing to the culture of the school. She related stories of
colleagues who effectively deal with bullying issues and are adept at student
supervision.
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Several classroom management strategies have provided Grace with
mastery experiences concerning her ability to manage a safe and supportive
classroom environment. She provides the students with consistency and clear
expectations for both their behavior and her behavior as a teacher. At the
beginning of the year, she reported she tells students, You can count on me to be
fair. You can count on me to open. She felt it is important to be accountable to
the students, my customers, for good lessons every day, for posting grades, and
being available for tutoring.
Grace also attributed her positive rapport with students to the special
interest she takes in their extracurricular activities and their self-perception. She
makes an effort to attend school activities (e.g., sports, talent show, drama
presentation, spelling bee) and then recognizes her students who participate,
They all have wonderful talents. She begins the school year with a student self-
assessment of the multiple intelligences; her message is You are all smart. You
all have different strengths.
Grace shared a success story concerning a student who was being
excluded by his peers, which is a common type of relational bullying. Robert was
an 8th grader who was high-achieving academically; however, other students left
him out regularly when it came time for the class to work in groups. Her strategy
was to introduce Robert to a group saying, Robert has a lot of good ideas... I
would like him to work with your group today. I think he will really round out
73


your group nicely because.you all have strengths. She found, after doing this
several times, that he started interacting with the other students and building
some relationships. She noted that later in the year, Robert joined student groups
without prompting and was accepted by his peers.
Grace presents a positive role model to her students. She is enthusiastic
about her teaching career, emphasizing to students that while she had many
choices, she chose to be a teacher. She believes it is important to have fun, laugh
- we are not in a hospital where people are sick, we are not working in a penal
institution we are working in a really happy place... I get to work with the kids
who will shape our future.
Summary of Efficacy Sources
Graces experiences have shaped her self-efficacy as a teacher who
facilitates a safe, bully-free classroom. The sources of her self-efficacy are
summarized in Table 4.2 below. Her successful use of classroom management
strategies provide her with mastery experiences on a daily basis, as evident from
the opening story. In particular, her successful career in retail provided her with a
sense of competence and effectiveness as a teacher in general and specifically in
classroom management.
Her early experiences with bullying provide her with vicarious efficacy
information as well as contribute to her personal beliefs that shape her affective
state. Her recollection of a bullying teacher confirmed the type of teacher she did
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not want to be. On the other hand, she observes teachers in her current school who
provide positive vicarious experiences of safe classroom management.
Table 4.2 Major themes in Grace Harringtons story
Mastery Experiences
Successful use of effective classroom management strategies
Prior career and personal experiences
Vicarious Experiences
Positive examples of classroom management
Negative examples of classroom management
Verbal/Social Persuasion
Professional development/ mentoring
Support from students
Support from co-workers
Support from administrators
Systemic support for bullying prevention
Affective State/Beliefs
Attitude of care
Extracurricular interest in students
Empathy for students
Sensitivity to student culture and social development
Overall teacher self-efficacy
Collective teacher efficacy
Graces self-efficacy is also supported by verbal/social persuasion. Her
teacher preparation, at least at the graduate level, was important. She receives
daily support from students from the positive classroom rapport and support from
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school-wide programs and administration: Her selection as a staff member at her
current school contributed verbal/social persuasion of her efficacy.
Graces affective state is significant to her self-efficacy in bullying
prevention. Her empathy, her understanding of students developmentally, and her
parenting role contribute to her sense that she is able to facilitate a safe,
supportive classroom environment.
Her overall teacher self-efficacy and her pride in the collective efficacy at
her school also contribute to her ability to maintain a safe classroom environment.
She said, I want my students to remember how good and fair I was to the them.
One day, one of them may be pushing me in a wheelchair.
Matt Jacobs Story
The students were filing into Mr. Jacobs American History class, waiting
for class to begin. At the side of the room in a narrow aisle, two 8th grade boys
were punching each other, laughing, and each trying to see if one could topple the
other onto the floor. It was clearly horseplay; however, other students were
moving out of the way in order to avoid being hit. Mr. Jacob entered the room
and, seeing the boys, called out, Wait a minute! With all eyes on him, he
backed out of the room and dramatically examined the classroom door. When he
re-entered the room, he said with amazement, It doesn 't say playground on the
door! All of the students laughed including the boys who had been wrestling.
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By then, Mr. Jacob clearly had the attention of the entire class and quietly said,
Not a good decision, guys. See me after class. Mr. Jacob then moved into the
day's activities.
Almost an hour later, at the conclusion of the class period, the boys
remembered the command and presented themselves to Mr. Jacob. The reprimand
was brief and polite; Mr. Jacob simply said, lam worried about you hurting
someone else. Next time, better judgment? The boys both shook their heads in
agreement and said, Sorry. Then they were on their way to their next class.
Matt Jacob teaches social studies at Sky Blue Middle School, a school that
serves predominantly middle class students who overall demonstrate a high level
of achievement. This year he is teaching American history to students in grade 8,
although previously Matt has taught world history and geography, as well as
specialized courses for gifted students. Matt is in his ninth year of teaching, his
third year at Sky Blue Middle School; he previously taught at an urban middle
school that served a high need population.
The above scene is one example of the classroom management skills that
contribute to the reputation of Matt Jacob as an exemplary teacher in providing a
safe classroom environment. The scene illustrates his alertness to student activity,
clear limits on unacceptable behavior, and his ability to function as an authority
figure in the classroom. In the following section, Matt Jacobs experiences are
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examined to explore the factors that contribute to the development of his self-
efficacy in bullying prevention.
Early Experiences
Matt recalled experiences of bullying from his childhood. In one incident,
he remembered playing on a basketball team in high school where he was one of
only two white students. During a break at practice, he made it to the drinking
fountain first only to be hit in the head by another player who said, Get out of my
way, white boy; its my water fountain. When another younger teammate came
to his defense, Matt remembered thinking how grateful he was and how important
it was to stick up for the little guy.
Matt cited another childhood experience in which he in turn stood up for
the little guy, a neighbor boy with special needs. Matt recalled other boys
taunting this student on the way home from school to the point that Matt engaged
in a physical fight with one of the tormentors. When Matts father broke up the
fight, he expected punishment but, after hearing the cause of the fight, Matts
father said, Thats all right. Somebody needs to stand up for [him]. Matt noted
that these and other incidents were influential in the development of his personal
philosophy, his understanding of bullying behaviors, and his empathy for those
who are targets of bullying and harassment.
After high school, Matt worked for over ten years in the greenhouse
industry in various capacities including management. From this experience, he
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believes he gained an understanding human relations and diverse cultures, I have
a lot of background from my world experience, from real-life experience. He
observed the struggles that occurred among the employees. He reflected, Why do
we have to treat people like that? Lifes too short... to hate somebody and to
make somebody feel like dirt. How does that make you feel bigger?
However, the grueling 18-hour days in this industry prompted his wife to
encourage him to return to school to do something he had always wanted to do,
become a teacher. The career experience in turn contributed to his college
success: I think that comes from being an older student and having some real-life
experience rather than being 22 years old.
Teaching Experience
Matt also acknowledged the mastery experiences he gained during his
student teaching and first assignment as a teacher, both of which took place in a
high needs urban middle school. He said, I learned classroom management first;
then I learned how to teach. At this school, he learned to deal with students who
would call him racist names by responding to such insults by saying, I treat you
like a person. You treat me like a person. He felt supported as a new teacher by
the principal in his efforts to build his skills in classroom management and student
discipline.
Matt cited many examples of students with whom he worked during his
first teaching placement that contributed to his sense of mastery as a teacher.
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Through working with students, he added to his awareness of bullying/victim
behaviors and acquired successful strategies for bullying prevention. These
mastery experiences increased his self-efficacy in bullying prevention primarily
as a victim advocate, consistent with his childhood messages to stand up for the
little guy.
Gerald.
Matt told the story of Gerald, a student with whom he worked for three
years in grades 6 through 8. Gerald was a small boy in Matts gifted and talented
class who loved classical music and played the violin. Another student in his
orchestra class began to pick on Gerald to the point that Gerald would come to
class crying in the morning. Matt talked with Gerald, but when he reported that
the boy had followed him home from school, Matt contacted the school resource
officer concerning the situation. The officer visited the family of the boy who was
harassing Gerald and discovered that the student had an affiliation with a local
street gang. The student was eventually removed from the school to the relief of
Gerald and his family.
After the initial incident, Gerald came to Matts room to practice his violin
throughout middle school career: this was his little safe spot. Matt
remembered:
He would come and tell me what he was doing over the weekend. He
gave me a nickname, Bocaj, which is my last name spelled backwards.
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So that was always our joke, Hey, Bocaj, whats up?.. .You never
forget those kids.
The story of Gerald illustrates what has evolved into Matt Jacobs primary
method of victim advocacy. He maintains an open door policy for students who
are experiencing problems. He said, I just tell the kids, and I just throw this out
to every kid thats having problems.. .If you need to come in before school, after
school, whenever, and yell, scream, cuss, whatever...I dont carethats okay.
Anthony.
Matt told the story of another student from his first teaching assignment,
which shaped his philosophy and ability to maintain a safe classroom. Of this
story Matt said, So if theres one experience, that would be it. One of Matts
colleagues, the teacher of special needs students who worked across the hall from
Matt, was murdered in her home over Winter Break. Eventually, one of Matts
former students was arrested and convicted of the crime, but Anthony, the
younger brother of the student convicted of the crime, continued to attend the
same middle school where the murdered teacher and Matt worked. Anthony felt
he was expected to be like his brother by both students and staff who would say
within his hearing: Wonder how long it will be before [he] ends up in prison?
Anthonys anger simmered until one day Matt asked him,
Man, whats up with you? We were in the locker room; Ill never forget
that, we were hanging out in the locker room. He said, Im just so sick
and tired of.... He just went off and off and off. He said, Im going to
get in trouble now, arent I? I said, No, come on up tomorrow morning
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and talk. Counselors were there but he didnt feel like he really could talk
to them. And I dont know why he picked me of all people, but he did.
And by his 8th grade year, he was pretty much a straight A student....
because he did not want to be compared to [his brother]. ... We would go
down and shoot baskets... He worked his butt off, and the last I heard he
had graduated from [high school].
Along with examples that contributed to his growing sense of mastery,
Matt noted that his perception of the role of a teacher was also shaped by
vicarious experiences with teachers he perceived to be negative examples of
classroom management and student rapport. He described a college professor who
opened class with an exceedingly rude message to the students, If you dont like
it, get the [expletive] out. Another negative example was a colleague who ran a
very rigid classroom where chair legs had to align with the floor tiles. Matt says,
Thats not the kind of teacher I want to be. I want them to come. I know
we need to take notes and do those things, but make it as bearable, as fun
as you can. Make them want to come to your class.
After six years in the urban middle school where he started his teaching
career, Matt Jacob transferred to Sky Blue Middle School where he is currently in
his third year. He teaches 8th grade American History, a content area where the
lessons on tolerance are easily applied. He said, We talk about how the colonies
were set up as religious safe havens but yet how they were intolerant of other
religions...the kids immediately draw on that hypocrisy. He also uses the
curriculum to incorporate lessons on respect and tolerance as evident in the
description of an upcoming activity on the Bill of Rights. Matt cautions the
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students that they will be need to be sensitive to each others opinions, as they
will be discussing controversial issues on which they are likely to have strong
feelings.
At Sky Blue Middle School, Matt identified systemic support for bullying
prevention and pro-social education of students. He noted that the school-wide
PBS program adopted by the school two years before has made a positive
impact in student respectfulness. He sees drastic improvement in student
behavior, perhaps in part because the school population has decreased in size
recently.
Matt credited the school administration, the school resource officer, and
the counseling staff with supporting a positive school environment and taking
quick action on bullying reports. He enjoys his assigned student supervision duty:
Its amazing what you can hear... I just love hanging out with the kids.
At this stage in his career, Matt is often in the role of teacher leader. He
is the assessment coordinator for Sky Blue Middle School. He mentors new
teachers through the school districts teacher induction program, boasting, l am
the only male induction facilitator in the district. He spoke proudly of these
roles, which appear to contribute to his sense of efficacy as a teacher.
Matt placed a high value on maintaining a positive rapport with his
students. He is interested in his students as individuals and quickly relates their
personal stories, reflecting genuine knowledge of his students, such as: This kid
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is a figure skater; His folks are from the Middle East. He sees students outside
of his classroom in his role as the coach of two sports, basketball and track, and in
the community where he lives near the school.
In the classroom, Matts mastery of classroom management strategies was
unmistakable. His classes are conducted in an easy, relaxed manner that results in
a warm and supportive environment: At my center is make kids feel welcome.
He uses a style of self-deprecating humor that the students seem to enjoy;
however, he is clearly an authority figure who is alert to student activity and has
clear limits for unacceptable behaviors, as evident in the opening story.
Summary of Efficacy Sources
Matt Jacobs story reflects the experiences of a teacher who believes in his
ability to provide a safe classroom as summarized in Table 4.3 below. His story
supports the contribution toward efficacy beliefs of mastery experiences as
evidenced by his recollections of working with students at his first school,
especially in the role of victim advocate. He describes his acquisition of effective
classroom management strategies as essential to his survival as a teacher. His
prior career also contributed understanding and maturity that increased his self-
belief. His leadership roles as a mentor and assessment coordinator provide him
with evidence of his teaching self-efficacy
Matts teacher efficacy is also supported by verbal/social persuasion. He
credits his college training and student teaching with providing him with
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important skills. He is influenced by the support of his students, which is essential
to his perception of the role of a master teacher, a view shaped somewhat by
negative vicarious experiences in the examples of teachers he did not want to
emulate. He is clear in his respect for the systemic support he receives from
school-wide programs and school personnel.
Table 4.3 Major themes in Matt Jacobs story
Mastery Experiences
Prior successes with bullying prevention
Successful use of effective classroom management strategies
Prior career and personal experiences
Teacher leadership roles
Vicarious Experiences
Negative examples of classroom management
Verbal/Social Persuasion
Support from students
Systemic support for bullying prevention
Affective State/Beliefs
Attitude of care
Extracurricular interest in students
Empathy for students
Sensitivity to student culture and social development
Sense of responsibility for bullying prevention
His affective state and beliefs also contribute strongly to his sense of
ability to maintain a safe school environment. His personal experiences have
resulted in a high level of awareness of bully/victim behaviors and a personal
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empathy for victims, the little guy. He is clearly interested in his students as
individuals and involved with outside of the classroom. His attitude of care and
personal sense of responsibility for a safe classroom is evident in his actions and
words: Kids need to feel safe. Its a core value for me. Why would you want
kids to come to school and not feel safe? You cant learn if youre not feeling
safe.
Matts philosophy integrates his classroom management and his content,
which results in a seamless method of educating students on citizenship and pro-
social behavior. He reports that he tells students from the first day of school: I
have no tolerance for intolerance, and then he demonstrates this philosophy,
embedded in his style of classroom management and curriculum throughout the
school year.
Shannon Parkers Story
Shannon Parker and four of her colleagues are seated around the student
tables in a science classroom at 7:45 enjoying their morning coffee or cup of tea.
The students have not yet entered the school, but the teachers are already at work.
Two of this mornings participants in the discussion are members of Shannons
core team, while the other two teachers are friends of the group. The gathering is
a typical start to the day at Vista Green Middle School, a conversation among
colleagues concerning both professional and personal issues.
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Vista Green Middle School serves a student population where 60% of the
students qualify for free dr reduced lunch rates and student achievement is low
overall according to state accountability testing. Shannon is the newest of the
teachers in this study, in her fourth year of teaching, all of which have been at
Vista Green. This year Shannon teaches general science to students in grade 6,
and she also taught English in a previous year.
The above scene is one example of the collegial support that Shannon
Parker identifies as a primary factor in her self-efficacy to facilitate a safe, bully-
free classroom. Shannon says, I really do feel like my colleagues are my
friends.... This school is amazing for personal relationships. As cliche as it is, it
is like a family. In the following section, Shannon Parkers experiences are
further examined to explore the factors that contribute to the development of her
self-efficacy in creating a safe classroom environment.
Early Experiences
Shannon had not planned a career as a teacher but came to it through her
work in public health. With a degree in human biology and a year in the
AmeriCorps, she worked in the field of anti-tobacco education. Her work
included visits to school, and she soon discovered, I didnt like always being the
guest, always coming in not knowing, not really understanding them. So thats
when I decided I would like my own classroom.
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Shannon returned to school and completed a year-long teacher
certification program. During her teacher preparation program, she found one
book helpful to her classroom management abilities, The First Days of School
(Wong, 1998). This book became her manual for establishing classroom
procedures and routines, which are currently evident in her classes.
After her teacher certification, she worked as a substitute teacher for two
years. She cites her experiences as a substitute teacher as incredibly helpful to
her abilities in classroom management. She says, I basically got to see the worst
of things. I learned the tricks that they try to pull, so I was prepared.
Teaching Experience
Once Shannon became the teacher of record at Vista Green Middle
School, her sixth grade core team welcomed and mentored her. She identified the
support from her colleagues as the essential factor in her success and the
development of her teacher self-efficacy. Her colleagues shared the cores
handbook which described all of the policies and procedures that would be used
throughout the school year. She said of her team, They were always giving me
advice if I got frustrated by a student. If I had to call a parent, one of them would
sit in and make sure I was okay. Very, very supportive coming in. In turn,
Shannon has mentored other new teachers as they have joined her core team.
In Shannons classroom, her successful use of management strategies
contributes mastery information to support her self-efficacy as a teacher. Shannon
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takes great care to be consistent and fair and to earn respect from her students.
The following scene was observed in her classroom:
Ms. Parker began to assign students to the teams that would begin to
research planets. She had a set of cards, one for each student. She shuffled
the cards and began to draw them one at a time. When the students card
was drawn, they chose the planet that they wanted to research. As she
called their names and listened to their choice, she recorded their name on
the overhead transparency. The students seemed comfortable with this
process of assigning teams. There was some joking and laughing as they
completed this process, No more flights to Jupiter. When the laughter
turned to general talking, Ms. Parker began to count 5, 4, 3,2,1 and
quiet resumed.
Shannon noted that clear classroom procedures are important to her,
saying, Thats how I keep my sanity. She said:
We have our folders and we have our spirals. [The students] are in charge
of passing them out. Then we move into the question of the day, and their
agendas, what they have to write down.. .Then moving into the lesson,
going back and answering the question and then the same thing in
reversethe cleanup. I think thats what makes me efficient as a teacher
and effective because we have set procedures.
In collaboration with her team, Shannon also has clear limits on
unacceptable behavior. She related that, when reports of bullying surface, the core
team handles it by developing a behavior plan. Students who are victimized are
coached to report any problems quickly to an adult. When an incident occurs
within her class, Shannon is alert to her students. She said, I micro-manage,
which is exhausting, but I feel like I am pretty aware of most things going on in
my class... If somebody is doing something, I can identify it and ask them to stop
right away. She is especially vigilant with student language. She said:
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There are certain words that are my trigger words that I just dont allow at
all. I dont appreciate kids saying shut up; I dont like adults saying
shut up. I dont hear a ton of slurs per se, but if somebody refers to
something as thats gay, right away I say, I do not accept that sort of
language in my classroom. I never want to hear that again. .. .1 will say it
aloud in front of everybody so they know that I am serious.
Another factor for Shannon is the importance of presenting a positive role
model for her students as one method of providing pro-social education. She
noted, The content, yes, thats important, but to me, the life skills are more
important. She sees many opportunities to model appropriate behavior whether
she is with students in the classroom, in her role as track coach, or as a club
sponsor. She said, Really on a daily basis, I am dealing with socializing kids.
She especially likes her students to see her positive interactions with her
colleagues. She said:
I like the kids to see that we get along really well. We can give each other
a hard time, we can joke around, and its all healthy, all good. Because I
think, especially with our population, they dont have positive models for
relationships a lot of times. I think its good for them to see that adults can
just be friends, they are not yelling at each other...I know in their
houses.. .thats how they communicate, just really, really loud. So I try to
show themits not necessarily better, its just different in terms of my
communication styleyou dont have to get louder and louder and louder
to get attention.
Shannon identified the systemic support provided by Vista Green Middle
School as another important factor in her ability to provide a safe classroom
environment. She believes the school-wide PBS program has brought some great
things... When you say, show some [Mascot] Pride, its not just an empty phrase.
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