SEC News April 2016
Fulton County Schools
Amy Penn, Director, Services for Exceptional Children
Dr. Yolanda Williams, SEC Coordinator
Behavior in the Classroom
Art & Science of Teaching
Defusing Out-of-Control Behavior
Source: Robert J. Marzano. Published in Educational Leadership, Volume 71, No. 4, December 2013/January 2014.
The vast majority of discipline problems a teacher will deal with throughout the year are typically routine issues that classroom rules and procedures have been established to address. A teacher can usually deal with a student who talks in class instead of quietly listening to a video recording or who doesn't follow the procedure for completing independent seatwork.
But what about the rare occasion when a student becomes out of control? For example, a student becoming angry and throwing chairs, cursing at other students, or even threatening the teacher. On these, rare occasions, what should a teacher do?
Create a Plan (and follow it)!
First and foremost, teachers should have a plan for dealing with such events. Teachers need to think out their reactions and design themselves a way of quickly extinguishing a volatile situation. Taking the following steps would help.
1. Know your students' tendencies.
Previous incidents of aggressive behavior are one of the best predictors of future incidents. Therefore, it's useful to be aware of students who have exhibited such outbreaks in the past. Please do not use these incidents as justification for branding a student as a trouble-maker. Instead, use what you know about your students to plan positive interactions that could possibly decrease future problems.
2. Recognize that the student is out of control.
Ideally, you should know your students well enough that you can tell when they have reached their breaking point. Evidence of being out of control might be wild gestures or shouting. However, a student might also sit silently for a while before erupting. Be aware of incidents that might provoke one or more students, such as a recent quarrel or fight they might have had.
3. Put physical distance between yourself and the student, and avoid threatening behavior.
If a student is agitated enough to act out physically, it is best to give that student physical space so he or she does not fell threatened or provoked. Avoid behaviors that students might interpret as aggressive, such as pointing your finger, raising your voice, squinting your eyes, moving toward them, or hovering over them. Instead, try to speak directly to the student in a calm and respectful manner. Look directly at the student without glaring or staring; try to keep your expression neutral.
4. Calm yourself.
When a student loses control, it's natural for you to feel personally attacked. This can lead you to take an aggressive stance. While interacting with the agitated student, try repeating affirmations like these to yourself: "The student's outbreak is not a personal attack on me; this student must be in a lot of pain to act out this way" or "This is a brief moment in time. Don't make things worse. Help it pass quickly without causing harm to anyone, including the student."
5. Listen attentively.
Actively listen to the student so he or she knows you are listening. Listen without agreeing or disagreeing. Be as neutral as possible in your body posture, gestures, and facial expressions but actively focus on what the student is saying. Try to understand his or her viewpoint. When the student has finished speaking, say "I think I understand how you feel" or "I understand what you're thinking." Then ask, "What else is bothering you?" Finally, after the student speaks again, repeat the process. After a while, he or she won't be able to think of anything else to say and will most likely be calmer as a result of having been heard.
6. Remove the student from the situation.
When the student is calm, keep repeating a simple request designed to remove the student from the immediate situation. Repeat the request calmly but persistently until the student complies.
7. Set up a plan to avoid future outbreaks.
A day or so after the incident, make sure to connect with the student to let him or her know that you harbor no grudge and wish to reestablish a positive relationship. Discuss why the incident occurred, using active listening strategies to let the student know you've heard what he or she said. Establish a plan of action with the student that ensures that in the future he or she will communicate with you well before things escalate out of control.
Impulse Control: Helping ADHD Students Manage Their Behaviors
Source: ADDitute: Strategies and Supports for ADHD & LD
ADHD children often get in trouble for acting on their impulses. Find techniques for home and school that will help children with attention deficit disorder learn to rein in bad behaviors.
The problem: Children with attention deficit disorder (ADHD) are often labeled unruly or aggressive because of their impulsive physical and social interactions. Even though these children can be caring and sensitive, their good qualities are often overshadowed by their impulsivity.
The reason: Children with ADHD act before they think, often unable to control their initial response to a situation. The ability to "self-regulate" is compromised; they can't modify their behavior with future consequences in mind. Some studies show that differences in the brain in those who have ADHD are partly responsible for this symptom.
The obstacles: Many children with ADHD seem to spend their lives in time-out, grounded, or in trouble for what they say and do. The lack of impulse control is perhaps the most difficult symptom of ADHD to modify. It takes years of patience and persistence to successfully turn this around.
Solutions in the Classroom
Posting classroom rules and routines lets children know what's expected of them, and also serves as a visual reminder for those who act before they think.
-- Tape "behavior cards" to their desks. Some children benefit from seeing rules like "Raise hands before speaking," etc. posted directly on their desks. If privacy is an issue, tape the cards to a sheet of paper that remains on the desk during class but can be stored inside the desk when necessary.
-- Post the day's schedule. Write the schedule on the blackboard and erase items as they are completed. This gives ADHD students a sense of control about their day. Alert the class in advance about any revisions to the daily routine.
-- Prepare kids for transitions. To avoid meltdowns when moving between activities (another stress point), give the class a five-minute warning, then a two-minute warning of a transition, so that ADHD kids have adequate time to stop one activity and start another.
-- Be prepared for impulsive reactions. In situations where a lack of structure or another circumstance might set off an impulsive reaction, have a plan ready to help ADHD kids keep their impulses in check. Perhaps the ADHD student can be given a special job, such as "monitor" or "coach," to help him stay focused on self-control.
-- Post expected behavior for younger children. Establish the good behaviors you expect from your young students and post them in the classroom. These can be as simple as: "Respect Others," "Talk Nicely," "Use an Indoor Voice". Posting them in the classroom serves as visual reminder to ADHD students.
-- Younger children often respond to a "point system." This is a system in which they earn pennies or stickers for a positive target behavior. They can redeem their points at the end of the week for a prize.
Solutions at Home & School
-- Discipline can and should be used in certain situations. While ADHD is an explanation for bad behavior, it is never an excuse. ADHD may explain why Johnny hit Billy, but ADHD did not make him do it. Children with ADHD need to understand their responsibility to control themselves.
-- Discipline should be immediate, short, and swift. Delayed consequences, such as detention, don't work for those with difficulty anticipating future outcomes. Consequences must be instantaneous: If he pushes another child on the playground, recess is suspended for 10 minutes.
-- Provide positive feedback too. Be sure to also offer immediate, positive feedback and attention when ADHD kids behave well. Catch them doing something good. Specifically state what they are doing well, such as waiting their turn.
Solutions at Home
Children with ADHD have difficulty telling right and wrong, so parents must be specific, stating clear, consistent expectations and consequences. Telling your child to "be good" is too vague. Instead, be explicit: "When we go into the store, do not touch, just look with your eyes." "At the playground, wait in line for the slide, and don't push." Other strategies to try:
-- Be proactive in your approach to discipline. Respond to positive and negative behaviors equally. Recognize and remark on the behavior, then respond to positive actions with praise, attention, and rewards or immediately discipline negative actions.
-- Hold your child accountable. Making your child understand what he did wrong is essential in molding a responsible adult. However, delayed punishment may prevent a child from understanding its relationship to the misbehavior. Punishment must come soon after the misbehavior.
-- Let the punishment fit the crime. Hitting calls for an immediate time out. Dinnertime tantrums can mean dismissal from the table without dessert. Keep punishments brief and restrained, but let them communicate to your child that he's responsible for controlling his behavior.
-- Let minor misbehaviors slide. If your child spills the milk because he's pouring it carelessly or hurriedly, talk to him about the importance of moving more slowly, help him clean the mess, and move on. Every misstep doesn't warrant significant consequences.
Tre Quinn - Cambridge High School
We at Cambridge High School in Fulton County are very fortunate to work with an amazing student named Trey Quinn. Trey does not let his cerebral palsy slow him down one bit as he maintains a 4.0 grade point average while seeking ways to use technology to make life better for others with disabilities.
Trey had the privilege to be the keynote speaker for the 2015 Conference sponsored by Georgia Tech and was presented with the Tools for Life Leadership award for the research of assistive technology in a nonprofit newsletter in 2015.
At Cambridge Trey is a participant in the Future Leaders of America Club, and despite losing his mother over the semester break, he was able to compete in a contest for electronic career portfolio. Trey’s portfolio was ranked third in the state! He now will move on to the national competition in Atlanta in June.
Please feel free to check out his award winning website to get a better insight into this wonderful young man.
SEC Teachers & Professionals of the Year
Services for Exceptional Children (SEC) Employees Named
Teacher of the Year/ Professional of the Year for 2016
The Teacher of the Year and Professional of the Year program recognizes and honors outstanding employees in Fulton County. The Services for Exceptional Children Department is pleased to recognize 15 of the professionals being honored for the 2015-2016 school year who serve in special education positions throughout the district.
Teacher of the Year
Central Learning Community
Lynsey Thomas - Heards Ferry ES
Northwest Learning Community
Julie Adams-Mountain Park ES
Deborah Bement-Northwestern MS
Betty Burns-New Prospect ES
Emily Clausen-Hembree Springs ES
Kirsten Fredlund-Alpharetta ES
Aimee Hughes-Roswell North ES
Northeast Learning Community
Missy Henrich-Barnwell ES
South Learning Community
Jasmine Hall-Langston Hughes HS
Professional of the Year
Northwest Learning Community
Diane Ellison-Cambridge HS
Mary Ann Laughlin-Sweet Apple ES
Kathleen Blackburn-Alpharetta ES
Suzanne Cockrell-Mountain Park ES (NWLC POTY)
Northeast Learning Community
Beth Cunningham-Chattahoochee HS
South Learning Community
Janice Carter-Camp Creek MS
Jane Williams-Seaborn Lee ES
Cristy S. Smith, Executive Director
Jennifer Butler & Tris Gilland, Coordinators of Compliance
Extended School Year Services
An important part of an Individual Education Plans (IEP) that can sometimes be overlooked is the consideration of Extended School Year services (ESY). It is of utmost importance that data is collected before and after breaks throughout the school year in order to determine whether a student meets the qualifications to receive Extended School Year services. There are several different ways that progress must be monitored/reported in order to provide necessary information to the IEP team for data-driven decisions to be made regarding these services.
Questions to consider:
Regression and Recoupment: Did the student lose skills over a break(s)? Is the loss of skills excessive? Is the loss of skills more that you would expect of other students? Will the student be able to recover those lost skills and how long will that take?
Degree of Progress: Did the student make progress on IEP goals? How much progress? Did the student make as much progress as the IEP team expected? Does the student make progress slowly or quickly? Is the student showing emerging skills? Is he/she about to breakthrough with new skills?
Transitional needs: Does the student need ESY to meet transition or vocation (work) goals? Does the student have any behaviors that are making progress slow?
The discussion and decision about ESY must be documented in the IEP. This is a new discussion each year. Even if a student did or did not receive ESY in the past, it must be considered each year.
Keep in mind, ESY is not:
· Tutoring, summer school, child care or enrichment programs
· Limited to certain groups of students or activities
· Limited to a specific time frame, such as summer
· Decided by one person. It’s an IEP team decision.
· Determined by only one measure
For more information, visit the Georgia DOE website: