CLASS ACT SCHOOLS—STUDENTS, STAFF AND PARENTS THRIVING TOGETHER

Unreasonable pressures and expectations are placed on principals to deal with bullying in schools. We believe it is a responsibility that every member of the school community shares equally. We also know that one of the greatest pressures facing principals and teachers is dealing with difficult communication behaviours from parents and students, and from colleagues.

Research confirms that shrinking bullying amongst students requires a culture-wide approach where all staff, students and parents model and practise respectful, caring behaviour towards each other.

We also know that 84% of students who are cyber-bullied, are also bullied face-to-face which means that cyber-bullying is part of a much larger problem.

Our newly developed Class Act Schools program invites every member of your school community—students, staff and parents—to participate in an interactive program that empowers them to shape the school’s communication commitments. Much more importantly, it equips them to practise positive communication behaviours and shrink negative behaviours that thwart your students and schools’ progress.

Class Act Schools sets the goal of creating an emotionally safe, supportive, positive, bullying free school culture—for all members of the school community.

We know from the research that:

  • hurtful teasing remains the most prevalent of all bullying behaviours experienced by students. And that around 84% of students who are bullied online are also bullied in person (Cross et al)

  • the role adults (staff and parents) play in cultivating and modelling behaviour is hugely important.

  • that teachers and principals are dealing with a lot of challenging behaviours from parents, and from students, and are exposed to significant bullying in their workplaces as well.

So Class Act Schools takes a very integrated approach. It invests in student-led positive behaviour change, but also in staff-and parent level change as well. This is consistent with the most contemporary research and advice that ‘schools need to be developing a bullying free culture’ to prevent bullying, rather than focusing most efforts on responsive measures (Duncan, Riley etc).

The Class Act Schools program entails:

  • The Thrive Together module for students in Years 7 to 12

Thrive Together introduces students to the concepts of ‘stars and black holes’. This symbolism is really the basis of the Thrive Together program—drawing on the basics of brain science to help students understand the impacts (on ourselves and others) of positive (stars) and negative (black holes) behaviours we choose to convey. It empowers students with the understanding that our own aura (self-image) grows or diminishes depending not only on the number of stars or black holes which we receive but also the number we send. 

Thrive Together helps students positively improve their sense of self-worth and their relationships with peers, parents and school staff.  It also brings really practical descriptions of what bullying looks like in communication transactions online and face-to-face. This is very important—as typically most descriptions of bullying are very broad and general—and so unhelpful for learning and behaviour change. These help student to socially self-regulate bullying behaviour.

It is delivered on-line (interactive learning content + reflective survey) with face-to-face discussion components. We provide dedicated mentoring/training for the teachers whom the school nominates to deliver the face-to-face discussion (up to six hours for Standard and ten for Comprehensive). Our school mentors are teachers themselves alongside one pastoral care mentor.    Thrive Together is a customised Class Act Schools program drawn from the enormously successful ‘Thrive’ by Youth Opportunities (based in South Australia), achieving high-level results for students:

  • 95% reported having higher confidence

  • 94% feel they have skills to achieve their goals

  • 94% know what to do to achieve their goals

  • 91% felt their self-esteem had improved

  • 90% reported better relationships with their families

  • 88% felt they had more motivation towards school

Students' anonymous survey responses contribute to the school communication charter (alongside school staff and parent inputs through their modules).

  • The Class Act Schools staff module 

This module is derived from our very successful interactive online program Class Act Conduct—which cultivates positive communication patterns amongst schools staff and shrinks negative behaviours. It is an extremely practical program that empowers staff to deal very effectively with negative communication behaviours with parents, colleagues and students. Class Act is a team communication program that helps create a practical, shared understanding of communication behaviours in organisations that are negative and thwart collaboration, and communication behaviours that are positive and that maximise collaboration and team performance. It is powerful in shrinking bullying in the culture.  

Here are a few points to help you make sense of it quickly:

  • Class Act allows every staff member to participate individually in their own time.

  • The online participation time is roughly two hours, however participants can leave and re-enter anytime they like.

  • The program is structed around eight communication principles delivered on video by me (following a welcome and explanatory video).

  • After each communication principle video (roughly 5 minutes each) participants answer a short set of reflective questions about their experience and practice of communication behaviour. Their anonymous answers feed into a report that we generate on the team’s completion.

  • At the back end of Class Act, there is a session called Video Coach, which offers participants a wide range of typically challenging communication school based and workplacebased scenarios, and gives them short coaching (language) on how to deal with those situations. There are about 60 scenarios.

  • The program invites participants to create their school communication charter. We create this for them using the language and suggestions they have made through participation (gathered in the survey report). We then generate this for the participants and send via you (the stakeholders).

Class Act has been accessed by more than 10 000 participants. It is extremely practical and our participants find it incredibly transformational. 

We have a team member who is really inconsistent in manner between days and sometimes within days.  It means walking on eggshells as you aren't sure which version you are going to get in your interactions (eg nice or have your head bitten off).  It makes it really uncomfortable and in fact stomach churning to broach queries, ask for tasks to be completed or generally interact on things as simple as asking if they are attending a meeting.  My work depends on this team member, and I go into work on the days I know I need to interact with them … feeling physically sick at the thought of having to ask, not knowing what mood the person is in that day.  I have to psyche myself up for those interactions and many times lose sleep the night prior.  I also breathe a sigh of relief at times the team member is not at work, as the feeling of being on eggshells with what I say or do dissipates for the rest of the day.

  • The Class Act Schools parent module 

The Class Act Schools program also empowers principals to invite parents to participate in shaping their school communication charter. Parents are welcome to participate in their entire Class Act module (in the same format as above). However for time-poor parents there is also a ‘parents shortcut’ option of about 25 minutes. We have strategies to equip schools to engage parent participation. We don’t expect the same high participation rates for parents however that doesn’t determine the gains because:

  • The role of the staff and students in creating the school communication charter give the school a clear standard for communication with the school.

  • It gives staff invaluable, extremely practical coaching for dealing with scenarios such as challenging parent-teacher meetings, email warrior parents, dealing with hostile parents etc.

  • Staff can continue to invoke the communication charter to reset difficulties with students and parents in very effective, respectful ways.

  • Access to the parents module remains open, so principals and teachers can guide parents to it over time where they wish to.

Parents who do participate are meaningfully contributing towards the communication charter, and (more importantly) also getting practical tips for positive, effective communication (including constructively communicating with the school).

The standard program is managed remotely without any face-to-face from our team. It includes:

  • a briefing to the school executive including assistance with in-house communication, email templates, e-flyers etc

  • training of the in-school facilitators (teachers selected to deliver the Thrive Together program to students)

  • access for students to the Thrive Together program and access for staff and parents to the Class Act program (including survey components)

  • report based on the survey

  • communication charter products

The comprehensive program includes the above as well as:

  • a face-to-face staff workshop

  • attendance by one of our team at a program launch (e.g. a school assembly)

  • attendance by one of our team at an executive meeting to file the report and the communication charter (commitment statement)

The extended program includes all elements from the standard and comprehensive programs as well as some additional options which could include:

  • an additional workshop

  • coaching for members of the school leadership team who are charged with imbedding the charter

  • staff drop in sessions