Anna's Reviews > The Respectful School: How Educators and Students Can Conquer Hate and Harassment

The Respectful School by Stephen Wessler
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's review
Oct 12, 09

bookshelves: nonfiction, education-and-teaching, teaching-tolerance, read-in-2009
Read in October, 2009

This is not so much a practical how-to guide as it is a policy kind of book that gives a big-picture approach for creating respectful schools. I liked this because I do think it provides a very realistic starting point for schools but as a teacher I also feel frustrated because I know that there's only so much I can do on my own to end the culture of hate and violence that permeates our schools.

This book is broken up into two parts: Part I is the "what" and Part II is the "how." Part I tells you why bias, harassment, and violence are a problem and, I think, it does an excellent job of illustrating how small-time bullying can very quickly escalate to big-time violence.

Part II is the "how" and it tells you exactly how to create change in the school climate. There is a chapter that talks about teacher intervention, which is useful but it really is only a starting point. There's a lot more, I think, that teachers need to know in order to effectively intervene. There is also a chapter on addressing the needs of victimized students, which I think is extremely important because their needs are hardly ever address and they are often marginalized and/or blamed.

I particularly liked the parts of the book that talked about the role of administrators, especially with regard to setting a tone for harassment and bullying. However, it was also very disappointing since I realize administrators really need to be on board and need to lead this effort in order for the whole school's climate to change. Often they are too busy worrying about test scores or violence, not the small stuff that leads to violence.

Lastly, I liked that the author spoke in detail about student leaders and creating strong students throughout the school, who can then model to the rest of the school how to stand up for each other. I really like his conclusion that students are NOT the problem and they are, in fact, a part of the SOLUTION. We need kids to be an active part of the school's anti-harassment, anti-violence policy in order to effect change. I think the author did a great job of illustrating how to do that and explained reasons for why this is one part of the big-picture plan.

I wish every administrator would read this. And I wish there was a supplemental resource by this same author that would focus in more detail on teacher interventions.

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Reading Progress

10/10/2009 page 23

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