Committee for Children Blog

Online Staff Training Designed to Reflect Real-World Challenges

by guest blogger Julie Dirksen, online training consultant

Last year I met with the team at Committee for Children to talk about the challenge of creating the online teacher and staff training for their new Second Step Bullying Prevention Unit.

We talked about several challenges that teachers and staff faced in recognizing and responding to bullying, including:

  • The difficulty in telling bullying apart from more regular forms of misbehavior
  • Steering clear of the regulatory and legal issues around bullying
  • Responding in the most helpful and supportive way possible for students
  • Appropriately addressing issues and questions from parents
  • Making time during a very busy day (this one is frequently the most challenging)

To ensure that the complex issue of bullying wasn’t being oversimplified, we looked at ways to create a sense of context for teachers and staff, to let them practice the necessary skills in realistic scenarios, and to help them see the subtleties of the issues played out in different examples. We wanted a training program that didn’t just talk at teachers and staff, but instead involved them in the process.

Committee for Children involved me because of my experience as an e-learning designer for adult learners. They had lots of experience creating learning experiences for kids, but not nearly as much experience creating good online learning experiences for adults.

But interestingly, when we really started to talk about strategies—about creating scenarios that would allow teachers and staff to spot bullying amongst varied examples, role-playing good ways to respond to stories that were emotionally compelling, hearing about other teachers’ challenges, and having materials that would help support teachers and staff in the actual situations, we found that the methods for creating good learning for adults weren’t all that different from the methods for creating good learning experiences for kids.

The Bullying Prevention Unit online staff training is designed to reflect some of the real-world challenges faced by teachers and staff. The online training hopefully does that in several different ways, including:

Having participants look
at several different situations
and test their own ability to
tell the difference between
normal conflict or
misbehavior and bullying.

Hearing from experts and
practitioners who face the
same issues with recognizing
and responding to bullying.
Getting to choose how they
respond to bullying in different
scenarios and practicing the
skills needed to keep kids safe.
Getting to work with and
evaluate the tools provided
to teachers and staff.


Ultimately, the goal was to support teachers and staff in their daily challenge of creating safe, strong, and positive learning environments for their students.