By Jane Balvanz, MSE, RPT
Professional School Counselor

Topic: Exclusion, emotional bullying

 Overarching Goals:

  • To help students understand that exclusion is a form of emotional bullying.
  • To guide students toward making good decisions when asked to participate in exclusionary behaviors.


  • Students will be able to explain what exclusion is and how it impacts feelings of belonging.
  • Students will be able to identify exclusionary actions.
  • Students will be able to state feelings evoked by exclusion from a social group.
  • Students will be able to identify exclusion as a form of bullying.

Process, Part 1:

  1. Have students count off by twos and gather into appropriate groups.
  2. Designate the 1s as Insiders and the 2s as Outsiders.
  3. Ask the Outsiders to go out into the hallway and wait.
  4. Seat the Insiders together.
  5. When the Outsiders are in the hallway, explain to the Insiders that the Outsiders are going to try to become Insiders.  The Outsiders don’t have to let the Insiders become part of the group, if they choose not to.  However, if the students who want to be Insiders ask nicely, beg enough, or offer them something they like, they may let them in.
  6. Ask the Insiders to wait patiently while you talk to the Outsiders, and go out into the hallway.
  7. Direct the Outsiders that their task is to individually try to get to be part of the Insiders group by asking if they can join the group. They may go from person to person to try to get in.  If it proves difficult, they may offer anything to get in (pretend money, gifts, services, etc.).  They may not use force or any type of physicality.  Let participants know that not all may get in due to time constraints.  (This saves hurt feelings.)
  8. Start the activity.  Allow 3-4 minutes for this part of the activity.  Process using these questions:
  • What was it like to be an Outsider?
  • What did you do to get into the Insiders?
  • How did it feel to have to offer something to be accepted?
  • What did it feel like to fail to get into the group?
  • How is this like some of the groups in this school?  Unlike?

Process, Part 2:

  1. Ask the Outsiders to go back into the hallway to wait.
  2. Tell the Insiders that the Outsiders are not to be allowed into the group this time.  They are not to look or talk to the Outsiders.  Ways not to give attention are to converse with an Insider, read a book, turn away, draw, etc.  Let students make their choices and get prepared while you talk to the Outsiders.  Let them know you will be back in the room within moments.
  3. Talk to the Outsiders.  Tell them their directions are the very same as the first time.  (The element of surprise is that they don’t know the Insiders will not acknowledge them.)
  4. Let the Outsiders into the classroom.
  5. Allow 3-4 minutes for this activity.
  6. Process using the following questions:
  • (to the Outsiders) How was this time different from the first?
  • Which time was easier for you, the 1st or 2nd time?  Why?
  • How did it feel to be totally ignored?
  • (to the Insiders)  How was this experience different for you?
  • How did it feel to be an Insider?
  • (to everyone)  When did the Insiders have the most power?
  • Why do think we did this activity?
  • Do you think there is exclusion in our school? 
  • Since we’ve discovered how exclusion feels, what can we do about it?


Write a few sentences telling what you learned from this activity.




You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: Bullying strategists Jane Balvanz and Blair Wagner publish GAPRA’s bi-weekly articles. If you’re ready to guide children in grades K – 12 through painful friendships and emotional bullying:

For help with emotional bullying:

For the When Girls Hurt Girls® program: