Jim Dillon is an educational consultant specialising in leadership and school bullying. He has been an elementary principal in one school for 17 years and a total of 20 years as a school administrator. Prior to that, Jim Dillon also worked as a special education teacher. He talks to NoBullying.com about the need for Anti Bullying Policies.
The interview begins with these questions:
Ciaran Connolly: Very interesting. Your point of how much bullying the teacher sees in class is very scary but I can understand that because, again, the teacher’s back is turned and I have seen videos on YouTube that obviously children have taken in the class without the teacher’s knowledge and they post it online. So, the schools and the teachers don’t know and probably this is the thing with technology. Maybe even teachers are getting bullied and they don’t even know about it. So, definitely I see a change. In schools, technology like mobile phones, what is the standard or the status quo in the US? Are phones for children banned or supposed to be switched off or is it mixed for school?
Jim Dillon: It is mixed I think. There are, you know with the US, there is such decentralization that the policies really vary. I think there are some progressive schools that have embraced technology and use cellphones and social media. There are some really. I am aware of some principals who make use of Twitter and Facebook and integrate it in their teaching and learning but there are other schools where it’s almost even banned and kids can’t even touch the stuff. So, I would advocate it is better to work with technology with kids and integrate responsible use right into your classroom instruction and I think the flip side of it is, as you said, it’s kids are empowered and it’s being done on Twitter and Facebook, more kids are aware of it. So, you increase the number of kids who could step forward and say stop it.
Ciaran Connolly: Of course. Yes. Totally and report it and alert the adults of what is happening. I know, very true. In your book ‘No Place for Bullying’, I guess you talk or you infer that leadership is the key in schools, if I read that correctly, and the leaders of school are key in bringing the change that is needed for bullying. Is at the moment the skills of leadership missing in some schools? What is missing to help teachers? Is it time? Is it resources? Is it priorities?
Jim Dillon: That’s a good question. There’s a lot of things I think contribute to that. Interesting. A good definition for the difference between managing and leading is, you know, management is a sort of making the status quo run well and leading is improving the organization and I think what happens is it is very hard to be a principal and there is so many…you have to work so hard just to maintain the status quo. So, it’s then hard to stop and say “OK. How can I make things better? How can I change the culture and climate?” but if you really want to stop bullying, you have to change the culture and climate of schools and people who are in leadership positions are people who are in best positions to do that. I mean it’s funny. Now that I am not working full time as an administrator, I have a lot more time and if you look in business, everywhere you look, it is all about leadership and it is all about strategies and how to be a better leader and how to build a better culture and it is going much more towards trusting, giving people more freedom, shared decision making collaboration, but it seems in schools, at least in the US, leadership hasn’t happened. In fact, it is going the other way. It is becoming more command and control with a lot of tightening of regulations and a lot of penalties put into place which then decreases the amount of creative problem-solving that is happening. So, I do think it is difficult for school leaders and there is not a lot of resources out there that really give them some guidelines on how to start to change and shape the culture differently. It is a little easier to figure out how to make everything run smoothly, it is little bit harder to figure out how do I improve the culture of my school. There is a need to really provide a lot more support to principals on change strategies.
Read more at nobullying.com/jim-dillon-on-anti-bullying-policies/