School Commitment and Teacher Coaching Reduces Playground Victimization (page 2)

— Bullying Special Edition Contributor
Updated on Apr 6, 2011

Benefits of Coaching for Adults

 One principal completely changed his disciplinary procedure to incorporate coaching methods, liberating himself from ineffective, high-stakes punishment (Skiba, et al., 2006). With high-stakes approaches, guilt must be established beyond a reasonable doubt—a time-consuming and often frustrating process. Adults are more empowered with a positive approach, because they can work with students to help them avoid “even the appearance of bullying” before bullying habits become entrenched. Besides having more time to work on changing behavior, this principal appreciated having strategies that exemplified the program values of respect, and improvement through education.

Another advantage of the coaching method is that it demonstrates that adults will respond consistently and thoughtfully. Within bullying cultures, even victims may subscribe to widespread beliefs that bullying is inconsequential or deserved. Believing that adults will overreact may discourage reporting as much as believing that they won’t react at all (Limber & Small, 2003).

In our study, program teachers who spent at least once a week coaching students achieved positive results beyond those of their colleagues (Hirschstein, Edstrom, Frey, Snell, & MacKenzie, 2007). In these classrooms, students were less likely to encourage others to bully, less likely to respond aggressively when bullied, and less likely to be victimized.

It appears that even a little coaching, provided in the context of a multilevel intervention, enables adults to provide effective leadership while empowering students to appropriately stand up for themselves.    


Frey, K. S., Edstrom, L. V., & Hirschstein, M. K. (2005). The Steps to Respect program uses a multilevel approach to reduce playground bullying and destructive bystander behaviors. In D. L. White, M. K. Faber, & B. C. Glenn (Eds.), Persistently safe schools 2005 (pp. 47-56). Washington, DC: Hamilton Fish Institute, George Washington University. Frey, K. F., Hirschstein, M. K., Snell, J. L., Van Schoiack-Edstrom, L., MacKenzie, E. P., & Bruschi, C. J. (2005). Reducing playground bullying and supporting beliefs: An experimental trial of the Steps to Respect program. Developmental Psychology, 41, 479-491. Hirschstein, M. K., Edstrom, L. V., Frey, K. S., Snell, J. L., & MacKenzie, E. P. (2007). Walking the talk in bullying prevention: Teacher implementation variables related to initial impact of the Steps to Respect program. School Psychology Review, 36, 3-21. Limber, S. P., & Small, M. A. (2003). State laws and policies to address bullying in schools. School Psychology Review, 32, 445-455. Skiba, R., Reynolds, C. R., Graham, S., Sheras, P., Conoley, J. C., Garcia-Vazquez, E. (2006). Are zero tolerance policies effective in the schools? An evidentiary review and recommendations. Retrieved June 19, 2007, from

For More on Bullying Intervention, See:

Frey, K. S., Edstrom, L. V., & Hirschstein, M. K. (in press). School bullying: A crisis or opportunity? To appear in Jimerson, S. R., Swearer, S. M., & Espelage, D. L. (Eds.), The International Handbook of School Bullying. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Learn more about the Steps to Respect program and the Committee for Children.

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