An Emotions-Led Approach To Tackling Bullying In Schools (With Alain Pelletier)

An Emotions-Led Approach To Tackling Bullying In Schools (With Alain Pelletier)

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As any educator knows, the battle against bullying is ongoing, and the moment we become complacent, cases tend to rise. But what if we could address bullying at its emotional core? In this week's episode of School Behaviour Secrets, we explore just that.

Join us with guest speaker Alain Pelletier as we discuss how to enable students to grasp the true impact of bullying and reject it on an emotional level.

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Visit AlainĂ¢€ s website.

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Show notes / transcription

Emma Shackleton

As any educator knows, the work to eliminate bullying in schools is never done, and the moment we get complacent is the moment that we start to see a rise in cases in our schools. That's why in this week's episode, we're going to share with you a different approach to help students understand the impact of bullying and to reject it at an emotional level, how to support victims, change the crucial role of the bystander so that they intervene effectively and not just passively watch and accept incidents of bullying. And we'll look at the role of the bully, which is really interesting because it's often easy just to dismiss the bully as a bad person, but most bullies have underlying issues of their own. And unless they are addressed, then they just engage in repeated cycles of bullying in the future, which is no good for them and no good for the students around them. That's all coming up on this week's School Behaviour Secrets.

Simon Currigan

Welcome to the School Behaviour Secrets podcast. I'm your host, Simon Currigan. My cohost is Emma Shackleton, and we're obsessed with helping teachers, school leaders, parents, and, of course, students when classroom behaviour gets in the way of success. We're going to share the tried and secrets to classroom management, behavioural special needs, whole school strategy, and more, all with the aim of helping your students reach their true potential. Plus, we'll be letting you eavesdrop on our conversations with thought leaders from around the world, so you get to hear the latest evidence based strategies before anyone else. This is the School Behaviour Secrets podcast. Hi there.

My name is Simon Currigan, and welcome to a brand new episode of School Behaviour Secrets. This week, I've been mostly thinking about amphibians, particularly frogs. And to be honest, the more thought I've given them, the madder I've got. So on the one hand, you got fish, right, which I have absolute respect for. They live in the water, living their best lives, and through some sort of gill miracle, they breathe the water. Yeah? Do anyone who's ever fallen into a swimming pool accidentally and gotten water in your lungs will tell you is very difficult to do.

So my fishy friends, I tip my hat to you. And then you've got mammals and lizards. Right? You live on the land and breathe that sweet, sweet air. Kudos to you, my lung owning friends. And then, right, there's frogs. They think they're so smart because they can breathe in the water and breathe from the air with their big smug faces.

Say, look at me. I'm so clever. I can breathe in one environment for a bit and then another. Frogs, you aren't so clever. In fact, your supercilious nurse is teeing me off. I say, in a world that's riven by identity politics and polarization, it's time to pick a lane, the air or the water. I await your decision with interest.

With that important public service message complete, I'm happy to say I'm joined by my co host today, Emma Shackleton. Hi, Emma.

Emma Shackleton

Hi, Simon. So the amphibians are getting to you?

Simon Currigan

Look. This is the modern world, Emma. Everything's black and white. You're with us or against us, and frogs are 100% against us.

Emma Shackleton

This conversation is slightly worrying me.

Simon Currigan

Alright. Let's move on. I've got a quick question for you.

Emma Shackleton

Yeah. Let's get on familiar ground. Ask me a question.

Simon Currigan

Have you ever wanted to ask someone for something but were too afraid to ask or found it was too awkward to ask?

Emma Shackleton

I can't actually think of a time when I've ever been in this situation, really. I think I'd most likely just go and ask them, but I can see how people might feel silly or worried about the other person's reaction. Can you think of a time when you've ever felt like that?

Simon Currigan

Maybe more so when I feel like I'm asking about something where I think I'll be judged. Like, I believe the people around me think that I should already know the answer. So if I'm in a garage or talking to people about you know, who know about plumbing, about something really basic, like, you know, how do you change your windscreen wiper on my car, or how do you change your washer and a tap, then I feel a bit awkward because I'm not sure whether their reaction is gonna be to ridicule me or not. But to memory, it never has been, so I think that's a Simon thing, not a bad experience thing.

Emma Shackleton

Oh, interesting. Go on then. What's the link to today's episode?

Simon Currigan

This week, we're going to explore the topic of bullying with Alain Pelletier, a speaker who in communicating with pupils the dangers and impacts of bullying. And one interesting thing that he brings up is that we often tell children to go and speak to a teacher if they're being bullied, but we don't teach them how to do it or when to do it or give them the words to do it. So they might be in a position where they hold back or try to get the teacher's attention, like a suboptimal time, like in the middle of a whole class discussion, or they don't know what to communicate to the teacher. Alain gives us his solution to that problem and talks about how he reaches kids at an emotional level on the topic. So they reject bullying and know how to support other children that they see being bullied. It's a really interesting interview.

Emma Shackleton

Oh, that's such an important topic. But before we press play on that interview, if you'd like to support our podcast, the easiest way, and it won't cost you a penny, is to share the podcast with your friends. It really does help the podcast to grow. And if you think about it, it was probably from someone sharing it with you on social media or by word-of-mouth that you discovered us. So to share the show, all you have to do is open your podcast app, hit the share button, and it will send a direct link to today's episode using the platform of your choice, whether that's text, messaging, social media, or whatever.

Simon Currigan

And it's interesting. Bullies themselves often have issues around their own emotional regulation, and we've got a free download that can help them develop the skills to manage those emotions more productively.

Emma Shackleton

Yep. That download is called how to help children manage anger and other strong emotions, and it will walk you through one approach to teaching these techniques to the children in your school. It even gives you resources to print out and use with your students.

Simon Currigan

And that approach is backed by research. So if that sounds like something that would be useful in your classroom, open up your podcast app. Now open the episode description by tapping on the episode, and you'll see we put a direct link to the download there for you. Tap on the link. You'll go straight to our website, and you'll see instructions for downloading the guide.

Emma Shackleton

And now here's Simon's interview with Alain Pelletier.

Simon Currigan

It's my great pleasure to welcome Alain Pelletier to the show today. Alain's been a professional public speaker since 2008, has spoken to more than 1,500 conferences and to more than 900 school and parent committees. He specializes on the subject of bullying, tailoring his performances to 5 different age groups, and he's spoken to every Canadian territory in both French and English. Alain, welcome to the show.

Alain Pelletier

Thank you so much, Simon.

Simon Currigan

It's a pleasure to have you here. I want to start by asking you, what sparked your interest in supporting students with bullying? What led you to develop your approach and to support children in the way that you do?

Alain Pelletier

The quick answer is it felt extremely good. That is the quick answer. The long answer is at some point I met a man who turned out to be a professional speaker, but I didn't meet him on stage. I met him on a bar where they served food. Right. And he thought I was a colourful human being. He said, well, you should be a speaker.

And a kind of light went off in my mind. I said, you're absolutely right. It felt really good. So I I put up a speech And back then, it was a lot of, motivational stuff. We kind of all start in wider subjects. Right?

Simon Currigan

Was it same to adults or kids, the motivational speaking?

Alain Pelletier

I was in university then. When I said I wanted to become a speaker, I wanted to rent a room. They thought it was cute, so they just came and gave me the room. A guy was set up with the mic and the lights and just do your thing. I put a whole bunch of posters all around campus. Whole bunch of my friends came in. I gave the speech.

It was just me trying to be right. A couple of months afterwards, one of the people that attended ended up having a job in a school and they said, well, Alain, we need to hire a speaker on bullying. Do you want the gig? I said, well, I don't talk about, you know, bullying. And she said, Alain, you want it or not? And I said, tell you what, I'll, I'll do it. I went on campus and back then, library was open 24 hours because it was during exam time.

And, I started writing. Jeez. I wrote for like 5, 6, 7 hours straight. I think I got something. Went to bed, call my friends who was a teacher. I said, you need to lend me your class. I need to practice this stuff.

2 days afterwards, I went to the school. I gave them my text and I had a whole bunch of, notes. And I said, if I look at you with panic in my eyes, just read me the words, I'll figure something out. And that's when I realized where I could cry on command. I didn't know it. Then it wasn't in the text. It wasn't planned.

I just started crying because I was really emotionally invested and it created a, very weird moment because all the kids were like, oh, the mister's crying. And I was like, I'm crying in front of elementary school kids. I'm  never gonna work in this town again. Right? I couldn't stop it. So I just kept going, finished the speech. And, when the kids left the room, all the teachers were talking in a circle and I went to them.

I said, I'm so sorry about what I did. And they said, no, how did you do that? That was amazing. I said, I don't know how I did that. And when one school likes it, school board hears about it. Other boards hear about it and little by little you're across the country and you're doing it full time. Long answer is it started with, you know what?

You should be a professional speaker. I was crazy enough to say yes. And every single time I spoke on that subject, that subject is probably what felt home to me. This is probably why I became what I am today is whenever I go into a school, I feel genuinely feel that the kids relate to the number one thing I have when I leave. The kids come and see me and say, you know what? This is exactly what happened to me now. Like it didn't really happen to them, but the what they're relating is the emotional process in which I generate and give them through that story as a vehicle is what they say, you know what?

That's exactly what happened to me. They're referring to the story, but I know that whatever feeling they felt is, oh, this is exactly what I felt. This is exactly what I I've been through. So they can relate and whenever I give them proper definition solutions for victims, they they say, you know what? I hear and they use it the day of. Like the teachers that they send me emails say, you know what? Whatever you told them, they're doing it right now.

I feel like I create a difference. Maybe small, maybe large, but I feel like I create a difference, You know, within that 40 to 75 minute speech, I feel like they get it just because of that story that they relate to.

Simon Currigan

Is this the power of story, like, of narrative transportation where children can identify and put themselves in the story that you're telling, and then they can relate to all the characters and the different viewpoints. Is that what's going on here, do you think?

Alain Pelletier

It's, 3 d version or 4 d version of, yes to that answer. Okay. By this, I mean if you go into, any type of consciousness and the speaker's on stage and he's starts his speech by telling this story of this grandmother who's 98 years old and all of her life, she walked her little dog, a white poodle that's named princess, whatever story he tells about this grandma walking princess, he attaches a whole bunch of statistics and numbers. And if you wait an hour and you talk to these people, this is where did you retain? You're probably not gonna retain all the numbers, but they'll be able to tell you exactly what's that story about this 98 grandmother walking princess. Right? So it's this power of storytelling, but I'm not telling the story as if I'm reading the story out of a book.

I'm reading the story as if I'm the kid. There's a one part storytelling, one part speaker, one part acting. So I'm the kid and I adapt that kid. If I'm talking to grade ones then to grade twelves, right? The actor models that story to whoever's in front of me. And within that acting, I generate and transmit. And the goal is whenever I tell the story, I'm going to tell you write every emotion either that you feel or you see that I'm portraying.

And whenever you're done, you're going to have a list of, you know, between 2065 emotions. And if ever you're putting them in order, that's exactly the order of a victim that goes from, hey, I have friends or I'm a victim of bullying. You know, they'll exclude themselves.

They'll feel alone. They'll feel anger. They'll feel depressed. So whenever the teachers have that, whenever a kid comes to them, say, Hey, how are you feeling?

What are you going through? They can see go through that cheat sheet and see where how far they are in that emotional process.

Simon Currigan

I guess that's really important as well because often one of the thing that allows bullying to continue in school is the bystanders and could understand something on a factual level, but on a factual level, but on a raw emotional level, if you can understand what the victim's going through. And you know what's even harder sometimes? And we're going to talk about this during the episode, but actually understanding what the perpetrator's going through because often that's complex, and it's easy to 2 dimensionalise those people as horrible, horrible people. And it's understandable if you're a victim of that bully, but actually often there's some complex stuff going on there as to why that child's bullying in the first place.

Alain Pelletier

Alright. We portray them as horrible people. They're not horrible people. We need to understand that empathy and sympathy are emotions that come really late in our development. The literature says around grade 8 and 9 during that time. And whenever I, I speak to schools, the different age groups, I have different reactions depending on where they are and the nicest or the most interesting reactions I get is that grade 7, 8, 9. That's my favourite.

That's the emotional laboratory. Right? After that, they're calm. They follow me. They understand. But that 7, 8, 9, some of them mock me.

And that happens. They're not lacking respect towards me. That one of 2 things happen. One, they can't feel those emotions. So I'm generating too many or emotions that they can't feel yet or there's too much of it. They're not going to go there. So their reactions is to mock.

Or the other one is I can't feel them, but I don't want to go there. I wasn't prepared for that. So the opposite emotion of crying, it's not normal to see a human cry. It doesn't seem normal to see a man cry in front of an audience. So, yeah, it gets to you. So the opposite reaction is the laugh. Right? It's a type of laughter that goes into waves.

They go like hahaha and then it stops. They can't help themselves. We perceive them as bad people, but to them, they're just doing jokes. And until we realize that they're right, we need to change our approach. Because if ever I say to kid, well, you, you did this, you're so mean. You're labelling that kid as mean. But that kid thought it was funny.

Hey, I'm not mean. I was just joking around. He's right. He felt like that. He thought it was funny, but he doesn't get to realize, or he doesn't understand. He doesn't get to feel empathy and sympathy yet. So he doesn't understand quite frankly that someone else could feel a completely different emotion.

Now intellectually speaking, he can understand. Emotionally speaking, he's not there yet depending on where he is in his development. Right?

Simon Currigan

Can you talk us through then what a session looks like? Can we start by focusing on how you help the audience understand the role of the victim, what happens to the victim, and to empathize and and develop that sympathy for the victim?

Alain Pelletier

Okay. So I tell the story of this kid who moves into a new city and a whole bunch of things happen. Right? He meets a new friend, and the friend turns to mock me. And then I react, and he thinks it's funny, and I think it's not fun. I don't know what to do with it. That story is being told as if the kid, a normal kid, will probably think and react that way.

And it's probably not the good way. Right? And the kids, usually, the smaller kids, they say, well, don't do that. Go see the teacher. They're yelling the answer to me. Right? That's not what you're supposed to do.

But intellectually speaking, that's you got it. Right? But emotionally speaking, when you're in the bottle, what's that, that phrase? You can't read the label when you're in the bottle. Yeah. But emotionally speaking, it doesn't make any sense so you react. And the reaction is probably not the right thing. Right? And the teachers say, you know what?

That's exactly what happens in the school yards, in the recess. That's exactly how they do it. And whenever they do get to see a teacher, it's probably too late, and they don't do it well. Right?

Simon Currigan

Can you talk us through that emotional reaction that you portray?

Alain Pelletier

I go through anger. I go through sadness. I go through depression. I go through exclusion. I go through all of this.

And depending on the level, I allow myself to cry. Like, tears will go through my eyes. And the kids, they  react. It's like reading an open book. Like you'll see hoodies, but the teachers, they don't like the hoodies. Right? But I tell them, right now, if they put hoodies on, it's fine.

For this, 75 minutes, let them be. Right? Afterward, we can go back to the normal the rules in your school. Right? But right now they wanna hide. It's normal. Look at these kids.

And whenever I speak, I ask the teachers to be on the side and not in the back so they can listen to the guy, but look at how they react. I always tell them within 40, 75 minutes, they're gonna know exactly what question to ask to what student because they're gonna yell what they're feeling and going through. And some of them laughed.

Some of them cried. Some of them just, you know, cocoon up. Some of them turned their back on me. Sometimes I get a kid who's not comfortable being in in a crowd so they kinda hide under tables in a 10 year old kid or a 15 year old kid. They don't see me as an adult yet. Right. Because they see me as this character and I make them feel it.

They'll follow me. So it's I'm walking on thin ice because I'm making everybody feel sometimes funny, sometimes not so funny emotions. Right? But whenever they do feel it, and after that, we're gonna talk about how you felt and we're gonna decompose everything. Right? So that's what the first thing is. And then I think there's 5 different actors. Right? So the bully, the victim, the bystander, the parents, and the teachers.

And whenever I talk to kids, I allow myself to spend more time on victims, bully bystander. And I tell them here, here's how you're gonna define bullying. Because if I give one definition to everyone, they're all gonna say, well, it's a joke. Depending on how you or where you are in that situation, then everybody's right. So you need to give them a proper definition that the victims are gonna understand. Bystanders are gonna understand. And then bullies and and what so on. Right? And then I give them pieces of advice on not ways out, but solutions that they can take to participate into making your world a lot better. Right?

Simon Currigan

And I guess because you're doing that through drama, they are then sort of transporting themselves into your position. It's almost a way for them to mentally rehearse what to do in that situation in the future.

Alain Pelletier

First thing is the story that I give, the story that they listen, and the story that's going on in their heads is completely different stories. Because sometimes I talk about this little corner store in front of the school.

We all have that. So it creates, bridges on what they've been through in their lives through that. The story is not to say, hey, look at me. Have pity towards you. There's no I and nowhere in them. The number one question I get asked is, is that your story? And I tell them, it's inspired by true events.

Meaning I didn't have cell phones back then. Right. I didn't have social. And I need to put that in. Right. It's today's reality inspired by true events. All right.

Do you know why the Mona Lisa is the Mona Lisa?

Simon Currigan

I have no idea.

Alain Pelletier

There's the iconic smile, and the legend says that whoever's in the room, it seems like she's looking at them. Now I'm not saying I'm Da Vinci. I'm saying that the way I built the story is like the Mona Lisa. I don't care who's in front of me. If you're a grade 1 or grandma, grandpa, you're gonna see yourself. You're gonna see that kid somewhere in your lifetime. It's that story's gonna be built in your head.

They'll have that reference. So that kid resides in everyone, either it's you or somebody that, you know, that you said something to or did something to, or you saw that kid resides everywhere. So it's not look at me, have pity towards me. It's here's a common denominator. Everybody's going to see themselves in that story at some point. Right? And once that's done, we're gonna decompose everything and we're gonna put some knowledge into those emotions, into that story.

So it's to everybody can see themselves into that story at some point.

Simon Currigan

How do you manage or what messages do you give kids about the role of bystanders in your performance? How do you tackle that?

Alain Pelletier

Bystanders are the actor where you should if ever the bystanders take action, this is where you're gonna see the most change in the school. Whenever a bystander witnesses or hears something, what they go kinda into shock, Right? It's not a nice feeling and they kinda freeze up, which is totally normal. Right? But at some point, they're gonna get out of that small shock. They're gonna come out of that emotion. And that's where logic kicks in and that's when they need to do something.

There's a big difference between, in English, it's by stander and up stander and a bystander will, will stay there and do nothing and keep doing nothing. But enough standard will do nothing. But at some point, whenever he gets back into his senses, he can go see a teacher or an adult in which he trusts and say, hey, you should go talk to this kid. Now when we create that bridge, it's a lot easier for a kid that's not emotionally invested in this situation to go see the solution and to tell the solution. Go see a kid that needs somebody to talk to. Plus, it takes a long time for a victim to grab all the courage to go try to explain something that doesn't make any sense to them. Emotionally speaking, the solution for victim is and will always be, you should go talk to an adult.

And that doesn't change. Right? But if the bystander later on that day, later on that week, another bystander, hey, you know what, Simon? Alain's not acting like himself. Again, even if you go 10 times at some point, little Alain's gonna talk. You know, you say you can open the door, but you can't make him trust. You're actually crossing that door for him. Right? You're putting the solution in front of you at some point.

He or she is gonna talk. Right? There was a situation in, back where I live, where it kinda hit the media and everything and they kinda asked me to talk and  give my impressions on the media. And right before I went, they said, Alain wait. We have something fresh out, fresh news. Right? And, and they played a video of another situation that preceded the one that I was asked her to weigh on.

So we kinda saw an evolution on the video, but that was all done by a bystander with those cell phones. And I said, well, if you're witnessing or you're taking screenshots and you're taking pictures and videos and you don't do nothing with them and you send them on chats and to, for you to play around while you're while you're acting, you're  putting power into the bully version. Right? You're just creating chaos.

You're making that victim not feel bad. But if you take that video, you go see the school principal and say, you know what?

This is what I saw. How can you deny a video? Right? Whenever that principal sees the parents, parents are probably gonna say, no, my child doesn't do that. Never says that because at home he's, he's all good. That's all fun and games until they see or they hear whatever he or she said, they're like, okay, well, you can't deny that. Right? So those bystanders, their actions can give power to the bullies or a power into the victims.

They can decide. And whenever they don't do anything, which is obviously their normal reaction, that's what it's easier to do. They're putting all their power into the bully. Right? And when I say bully, Simon, for the sake of this conversation, I'll say bullies just so we know where to go. But whenever I speak in schools, it's extremely important to separate the action from a kid. We can't label a kid you're a bully. Right? He did something that was qualified as bullying, but he or she is not somebody bad. Right? It doesn't make them a bad person.

Whenever they can realize that, you know what? My actions or what I said, what I did was wrong, I can amend and I can say I'm sorry and I'm not gonna do it again. Right?

Simon Currigan

So where do you take the role of the bully then in in your framework? Because you've separated their actions from their identity. Obviously, you can't just leave it there because that person is engaging in behaviours that are negative and not causing emotional damage to someone else. So where do you take it? Where does it go next?

Alain Pelletier

Whenever I speak in schools, I'll say easier to make them realize that they did something wrong. It's fine. Right? And at first they're not gonna like it, but if we can separate the action for the person, they'll understand. They can, you know what? Ego can take a back seat. Now I'll admit that we can get there. Right? The goal is not to have an adult explain to a kid, you did something bad.

The goal, the teachings, as a parent, as a, a teacher, we wanna bring our kids to realize by themselves. Right? That's our role as parents or as teachers to show them that they can do it by themselves and not doing for them. So I have a game.

My kids are 4 and 7. Alright? And it works like magic. So to all the listeners who's got small kids or a classroom, I dare you. It'll cost you about a dollar. I dare you to try this. It it should be working.

I bought up the hula hoop, at Dollar Store. It's orange. Right? But you know, when you put them to bed and you kind of close the house, you pick up all the little toys and you you prepare blah blah. That's the only thing that we don't close. Like if it's on a sofa, it'll be there. If it's downstairs, it'll leave there.

I'm not touching that hula hoop. And the game is if ever my kids says to me something when they're in the hula hoop, I'm never gonna get mad at them. Consequences can be positive. Right? So I wanna take the, the negative stigma out of that word at my house. And it took, I'll say, 36 hours. Right? I introduced the game.

It was like a Saturday. And that Sunday evening, we get family at home and everybody's eating and the kids are done early, so they go downstairs to play. And, all I hear is like a whaa. Right? So I said, Hey, what's going on? And my oldest kinda goes upstairs and he's, I said, what's going on? What happened?

Why is he crying? And he says, wait a minute. I said, what are you doing? And I kind of forgot about the hula hoop he's looking at for that hula hoop. So he, he puts the hula hoop down. He goes into the circle and says that I hit my little brother. So now I'm at a point where I can't laugh. Right? I think it's funny, but I can't burst laughing. Right? Because he's being serious.

He admitted, you know what? I did something wrong.

I hit him. Why did you hit him?

He took my car. Understandably, I I I'd be angry too. Right? Well, how did you feel and why did you do it? Well, I reacted. I feel sorry. I, I shouldn't have done it, but I did it anyway.

So youngest goes upstairs and we calm the tears and we say excuse and they hug and everything's good. And I said to you, tell you what, you was honest with me and I really, really appreciate this. I said that we didn't have a dessert. What dessert do you want? I'll go get it. Right? They wanted Smarties ice cream.

So I went out of my way. I went to get some Smarties ice cream and I gave them a bowl. Right? But the consequence was you can have the dessert you want. You told me the truth. You were honest with me, even though you didn't feel he, he wanted to be honest. Right? He, he was probably angry about the time he got into the hula hoop, but he did it by himself.

He realized at that moment, I did something wrong. I reacted.

I wasn't angry. I shouldn't have done that. I know it's wrong. I admit it. As a parent, as a teacher, the worst jobs we have is to be a policeman or woman. Right? We don't wanna  be that parent saying, hey.Don't do this. Don't do they have the conscience to listen to it. Right? They have the ability to understand themselves that, you know what?

I did something wrong. And at a very young age, I introduced he was 6 and it worked like wonders. Right? So I've been working at this for a little while and, and, and they both know now it works wonders. So the goal, the game is to make or to teach them how to realize by themselves that they did something wrong and to make amends. It's gonna take time.

They realize it. They're putting grey matter on an emotion, Right? Their cognitive is pleading louder than the air their anger. Right? So I don't know if that answers the question but the goal is to make them understand by themselves and not to be, don't do this, don't do that. Right? You know it's wrong.

Simon Currigan

Can you tell us about a success story that you've had running your sessions in school?

Alain Pelletier

Yeah. One of the nicest ones I have up to now is I was invited to a private school. And, the private school has more funding where I live. They have a psychologist that's on staff. I've been working with that particular school every year since. Right? So I'll say 10 12 years, but the first time I went and, after the speech was done, all the kids left and I was left with a couple of teachers, their principals, and the psychologists.

And we were talking about how the kids react, what they saw, what they heard, and and dissecting everything. Right? We were in a classroom where nobody else were there except for those 4 or 5 adults. And I had one of the teachers knock, come in, close the door. And she said, miss, and she was, talking to the school's principal and says, you remember that this 2 little girls didn't she named them. Well, she said, well, kid a went to say sorry to kid b and they kinda hugged. I said to myself, well, that's good news.

And I turned towards the principal and she just had 2 tears streamed down her cheeks. And I kind of felt the emotion. Right? She was explaining to me that for the whole year, they had their parents involved. They had a whole bunch of authorities involved. They were trying to make her realize that she did something wrong. She was doing something wrong, but she, she saw herself as a victim.

Whenever she went to her parents, she just defined and she described herself as a victim. So then when the parents, I know you right, I raised you. So if you see you're a victim, you're right.

I believe you. So they were butting heads with the school and they were all in this big emotional knot. Within that 60 to 75 minute speech, she went out of her way to say sorry to the alleged victims. And then the psychologist obviously, you know, went to see both of them and talked, but that kinda was the end of it. The year that I went afterwards, I asked her about that situation since that's the last time we heard about it. So to me, I said to myself, you know what? That was one of the first time I felt so proud.

You know, when you speak and you do the whole thing and you kinda wish you have positive, impactful, you know, speech, something sticks and you created it. You kinda hope, and I never get to stick around to see what really is their problem if they do have any bullying problems and how it ends up, I'm not gonna go there a month afterward and say, hey, how do you I'm a, I'm a show where I create impact. And then the teachers can do their jobs. Sometimes when it comes from somebody external, I have a different way of approaching it. Sometimes, not maybe all the time, but sometimes they'll, you'll, you'll learn something different, right? Just cause I, I presented it different. So that was the first time I ever felt I created that much of a difference within that time span of a speech, and I felt so proud of myself.

It feels good.

Simon Currigan

If you're a teacher or a school leader listening to this podcast, from your perspective, what's the next best first step you can take today to manage bullying more effectively in your school?

Alain Pelletier

That's a so important question. Thank you so much for asking me this. Alright. What I do is in elementary and junior high and high school for victims, I give them a 3 step way of going to see a teacher. Right? I know that you said 1, but I'll call this theory 1. Right? And it's not very hard to understand.

I tell them 3 things. There's a best moment in the story or in the situation you're going through to go see a teacher. There's the best time in the day. There's the best way. There's no bad times.

No bad ways. No bad. Yeah. But there's a better ones. Right? So naturally speaking, whenever a victim feels like there are victims, they'll wait. They'll wait probably whenever it's way too late.

One, the quicker, the better you'll inform a teacher and it's not gonna stop right once and for all, it's a process, right? But the process is gonna start quicker. So the story's gonna change and the ending's gonna be different. Right? So, and whatever emotions you're going through in the 1st couple of days or weeks, they're not easy. They're easier to explain because if you wait, they're gonna, you know, mutate and pick up and they're gonna grow into something else. And those emotions are probably a lot harder to explain than the first one.

So the best moment, the best time, whenever you see teachers, they're supervising, cafeteria, they're supervising recess. Sometimes they're supervising the halls or outside whenever they're taking or getting off the bus. The kids, all they do is they go, but now they yell and they're all emotionally invested. They come out and it's yelling And the teachers, they kinda feel tired and and it's kinda like humming because they don't know what's well, is it really bullying or are you gonna keep playing around in 10 minutes? Right. And they're right. They're not bad people. Right? They do this and they do will always do that.

The the last 15 times you came to see me, it kinda resolved in the first 5 minutes. So, you know, you kinda lose faith. So there's the best time in the day whenever the teachers are doing prep or correcting exams or they're on their own in their own classroom. Right? Nobody else is in the classroom. They're not doing any. That's a great time.

What happens if they come down? They walk into the school and they go see the teacher if they trust when they're calm and doing some prep work, they're gonna say that's a great time. And if the bell rings in 2 minutes, we'll set it a  time in the day and wherever where we can have a conversation that you deserve to have. Right? So the time in the day is crucial. And the last thing is, like I said, the, the best way I say it every school, you guys should come up with a safe word. And I usually say like, it could be as simple as, do you have a minute?

And that, do you have a minute? You can be anything. Right? But do you have a minute? As soon as I'm done the speech, they'll use it right away. And they do it to me. The kids, whenever they wanna talk to me, says, hey, mister, do you have a minute?

Of course, I'd have a minute. That magic word or phrase or safe word, that kinda means, hey, I'm not doing very good. I don't know how to describe this. I mean, I need to talk to an adult. I don't know what I can say or how I can do it. This is very complicated, but I think I trust you. And I think that if you listen to me, I'm gonna feel good about it. Right? I try to talk to mom and dad, but maybe it's , you know, they're tired and they're, they got a whole bunch of things going on and and they can't probably understand.

But I think you, you would be a good safe zone for me. So me to talk and try to explain those, those difficult words. Right? So the best way, the best time, and the best moment in the story, that's exactly what they can take and implement right away. And that's gonna create a huge difference because the teacher's not gonna be yelled at all the time whenever they're working. And that buzz is not gonna create some fatigue and they're gonna be a lot more patient and, they'll find a lot more ways in which they can listen to you and have the conversation that you deserve to have. So it's simple rules that don't cost any money.

You can make posters on them. Those three rules, those three steps will create a safe way or, a safe understanding that, the kids can go see an adult.

And this is how you do it. Because we tell that the kids who see an adult, but the, we don't tell them how to do it. Right. So they kinda react and they do it in a way where it kinda it's kinda fatiguing in it and, and exhausting for adults. Right? Teachers, they're like mothers and fathers professionally. Right?

Simon Currigan

Alain, how can our listeners find out more about you and the sort of conferences that you provide?

Alain Pelletier

Alright. Now my name is French. Right? I I realized this because if I say my name in English, it's gonna be Alan, which is a l a n. Right? But my name is French. So it's Alain.

So a l a I n, Pelletier. If they go to, they can find everything. They'll find videos, they'll find brief description of, of what I do for a living, how I build the speech, what knowledge should the victim's ability, the bystander, the parents and teachers should get out of the speech, the cost and the length and the group divisions, they'll find everything on there. But, the is, is where that's my personal cell phone, my personal email. I don't have an agent. I'm picking up the phone. So if you need to talk to me, I'll be glad and all ears to listen to your, what you do in your school and what I can do for you.

Simon Currigan

I'll definitely put a direct link in there in the show notes to to avoid any sort of confusion translating between languages about the URL.

Alain Pelletier

Thank you so much.

Simon Currigan

And finally, we ask this of all of our guests. Who's the key figure or what's the key book that influenced you most and had the biggest impact on your approach to working with kids?

Alain Pelletier

Oh my god. Give me a second.

I'll go get it. I'm right next to it. Can I go get it?

Simon Currigan

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Alain Pelletier

Give me a second.

Simon Currigan

Okay. Tell us what you've chosen.

Alain Pelletier

Alright. So it's in French, but I'll  translate. It's the color of emotions. It's written by she's absolutely amazing. So Anna Llenas, the color of emotion. It's a children book. And I've been reading this to my kids since they were born.

I'll read this every night if I have to. She's just putting something tangible on an emotion that she's not going into. She's like, sadness is blue and anger is red and fear is black and love is pink and, and, and yellow is happiness and so on. So she's got this 5 or 6 different emotions that she's pulling something tangible on something that's not tangible. In my house, whenever my kids are red or not, I say, go to your room.

And whenever you you're yellow, come back down. We have this conversation like right now, are you feeling blue? And they'll use it. They'll use the color. They'll define. They'll realize. And that's in the book worlds.

They call it in emotional intelligence. I kind of don't like the word intelligent. I called it in emotional introspection. Right? Realize that you're going through something. Try to identify and verbalize it out loud.

You know what? I'm feeling blue right now today. We'll go and talk about it. Right? But they'll realize. So whenever my kid is red, he goes in his room and he comes out and you know what, dad? I'm yellow.

Well, come on in. I got nothing else to do.

He realizes that he's red. He, he can understand that he can change his emotion, like, on this click of a button. He can change it by himself. He'll realize right now he's yellow. He'll verbalize it to me and it'll come back down.

I I would love to meet that woman. So simple. You can read this, you know, age of 3 and up. No problem. This number one book I've been using since I'm a dad. And I, I refer to that book in my, speeches all the time for all the schools over here. They all have it so they can, go and get it and put it in their classrooms. Love it. Love it. Love it. Great work.

Simon Currigan

Alain, I think that's the perfect end to the interview. A very positive note. You've given us lots to think about. Thank you for being on the show today.

Alain Pelletier

Thank you so much, Simon.

Emma Shackleton

Do you know what? I really like Alain. You can tell he really cares about this topic, and I bet it's amazing to hear him speak in person. I can imagine that he really connects with the children.

Simon Currigan

And one topic he kept coming back to, which I think has a lot of merit, is the importance of emotion because we can know about something like bullying by learning about it factually and logically. But if you want to engage someone and have them act when they see bullying happen, then you've got to reach kids at an emotional level. And as promised, if you wanna know more about Alain's workers approach and his resources, check out the direct link to his website in the episode description.

Emma Shackleton

And that's all we've got time for this week. So if you haven't done so already, when the show finishes, make sure you hit the subscribe button so that you never miss another episode. We hope that you found today's show valuable, and we can't wait to see you next time on School Behaviour Secrets.

Bye for now.

Simon Currigan



(This automated transcript may not be 100% accurate.)