Enhancing a Positive School Climate with Compassion and Analytical Selective-Focus Skills (COMPASS)

Wilson Hurley


Educators everywhere experience challenges in maintaining a positive school environment.  A single bully can produce a climate of fear, enlisting peers to target other students for harassment and intimidation.  The victims of bullying often report feelings of fear, depression and a lowering of self-esteem, which can result in health issues, suicidal ideation, and poor school performance.  Those who engage in bullying disrupt the learning environment, challenge administrators and teachers, and lose the opportunity to learn and grow emotionally.  In worse case scenarios, tragedies have ensued from bullying and the hostile environment it creates.  To combat this problem, some states have passed anti-bullying laws and administrators attempt to punish offenders, but these are all reactive approaches to the issue.  COMPASS offers a pro-social approach to bully prevention by training children in compassion and kindness, offering step-by-step exercises for developing compassionate feelings and insight.  Students who learn to care about each other are less likely to bully each other, and in addition, a more compassionate student body can create a positive school climate.  The procedures, rationale, and results of a pilot program of COMPASS have been included. The pilot was undertaken in order to determine whether compassion can be taught in a classroom setting and in a secularized format that is acceptable to diverse student populations.   It is the intention of the author that this article be used as a manual by teachers for enhancing student compassion and thereby reducing bullying via transforming school climate.

Key words: compassion, insight, mindfulness, positive school climate, anti-bullying, strategies, modules

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