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Matzmichim unique model

How to encourage student's pro-social behavior in the classroom - from popularity and aggression to a model of 'uplifting children'


How do we create attractive incentives for improving class for students using the “Uplifting Students” model? The model helps us as educators and parents to encourage and foster prosocial behavior of giving, courage, caring, and solidarity.
Among students, there is a constant power struggle over social status. Breakthrough field studies from recent years describe the widespread use of relational aggression by students as an effective tool for maintaining or elevating their social status. The relatively aggressive behavior and class bullying are not, as is commonly thought, an expression of maladaptation or distress at home, but come from emotionally and socially gifted students, of social status, who use violence of various kinds to maintain or improve their social status. In response to these needs, which also arise in our workshops, Matzmichim center has in recent years developed the innovative model “Uplifting Students”.

The model is based on the concept that every child, whether he is introverted or extroverted or has a central or minor social status, can find his place as an uplifting student in the social life of the school - in the classroom, on the field, at a party, during a break or in social gatherings.

The model strives to replace the existing incentives (the popularity-aggression model) and instead, produce attractive incentives for improving the status of students.

In this way, the model makes it possible to encourage, teach and foster prosocial behavior indirectly and without preaching.


How it is done in practice:


The activities throughout the workshop are conducted through a variety of games tailored to the changing needs of the class and flooding the existing social issues in it.

At the same time, there is an emotional discourse in the classroom, led by an expert and skilled facilitator, that allows students in the class to expose the less pleasant behaviors they would like to eradicate.

The activities during the workshop provide students a safe environment for sharing, exposing them to a new language, the “Matzmichim language", that becomes the new social language in the classroom.

This activity has power and influence because it comes from the students themselves and not as external information from the adult world.


In this learning setting, students who often refrain from sharing are given the opportunity to make their voices heard and discuss abusive behaviors that exist in the classroom and want to change them to respectful and desirable behaviors.

During the workshop, a dialogue is created on the question of social price and what are the incentives or social prices for aggressive behavior. A common term in Matzmichim language is the term "gain and loss" for social behavior - that is, children who practice relative aggression will understand that aggressive behavior is not worthwhile because it will harm their social status.

Another unique feature of the activity is the questioning technique, most of which does not require a direct answer but a thought such as: "think of a child you value because he is willing to help others even if they are not close to him," or "a child you admire because he does not change his behavior due to social pressure".

In this way, students practice independent and authentic thinking, as well as giving recognition and legitimacy to students who behave in a pro-social manner. In addition, the unique way of asking questions allows the inanimate majority to express a negative opinion about relatively aggressive behavior and a positive opinion about pro-social behavior in the context of relationships - 'I lost appreciation for a child who behaved like this', 'I appreciate a child behaving like this' and so on.

The expression of opinion includes an expression of what we like as a group value, what we do not like, what our expectations are of children, and what is the social gain or expected loss from such behaviors. In this way we allow the group to define new norms of behavior, when a student hears that most group members do not like aggressive behavior, he learns that the peer group opposes this behavior and therefore it will not promote his social status. At the same time, he learned that the group of friends appreciates pro-social behavior and that such behavior will earn him appreciation and affection.

The use of the model strengthens the positive forces among the students and gives them tools to strengthen their power and social influence.

In schools, external evaluation data alongside our own experiences show that operating the “Uplifting Students” model in classrooms increases the popularity of students who contribute to the mental well-being of others when the choice is made by them;  when the students are the ones who point to figures from the peer group, who serve as a model for them to learn from. In recent years, the center’s workshops in the spirit of the model have received enthusiastic responses from educators and counselors. 

The development and operation of  Matzmichim's model are conducted in collaboration and consultation with Israeli educators and researchers, including Professor Avi Assor (Ben Gurion University), Dr. Koby Gutterman  (Head of leadership training at Kibbutzim College of Education), and Dr. Uri Katzin (Kibbutzim College of Education).



In 2018, our work was evaluated through an assessment study conducted by Kinneret College. This study examined the effectiveness of our intervention programs in reducing physical, verbal, and virtual violence. In all these areas, the quantitative findings indicate a significant impact on the classroom atmosphere and safety:

  • A clear difference was found between the prevalence of victims of physical violence prior to and after the intervention [t(103)=6.309, p, p<0.001], which indicated that the average prevalence of victims of physical violence prior to the intervention was higher than the average prevalence of victims following the intervention.

  • A clear difference was found between the prevalence of victims of cyberbullying prior to and after the intervention [t(103)=6.467, p<0.001], which indicated that the average prevalence of victims of cyberbullying prior to the intervention was higher than the average prevalence of victims following the intervention

  • A clear difference was found between respondents' sense of safety prior to and after the intervention [t(103)=6.781, p<0.001], which indicated that the average sense of safety prior to the intervention was lower than the average sense of safety following the intervention

*( the study participants consisted of 104 Jewish Israeli students, in the 4th, 7th and 8th grades.)

Click here to read more about the results of the study

We evaluate the achievement of our goals both internally and externally. Our external evaluation is conducted by the survey company TNS who contacts teachers 6 months after the interventions in class. The internal questionnaires are handed to teachers and pupils at the end of the workshop. 

In 2018, Matzmichim Center published a unique guidebook for parents and educators on dealing with & reducing cyberbullying among children and youth.

"With the rise in acts of bullying among children and youth, the necessity of planning for significant interventions, which are proven and effective, is even more important. “MATZMICHIM” acts consistently, with determination and professionalism to change the social reality of children and youth and enable parents, therapists, and educators to become partners in this worthy cause through this book. In the book, they lay out the rational, way and results in a clear and understandable manner which calls for action. This professional book is important to anyone who believes it is possible to change our children’s reality and make them safer and more protected. I strongly recommend it".


Dr. Miran Boniel-Nissim, lecturer and senior researcher of the internet psychology field at the Kinneret Institute for the Research of Child Protection.

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