S'More From The AP

Week Ending November 13, 2015

Keeping Students Engaged- A Collaboration!

This week's S'More is dedicated to Student Engagement. We have packed this one full of tips and ideas for keeping students engaged. This week, our learning comes from our fabulous BIC team. We know you will enjoy how each of them shares a different element that impacts student engagement in a positive way. Also included are some additional resources AND an incredibly moving, touching, and affirming video. We think this S'More contains some powerful learning and are so excited to share it with all of you!

Working With a Tough Kid - By Ms. Hall

As an educator we get the privilege to work with a variety of learners. Time and time again we strive to differentiate our instruction to influence those that struggle to keep up to the ones that exceed our expectations. It is often our desire to help the students reach their greatest potential. One of my greatest desires is that I will have a positive influence over the lives of my students. However, there are a few students that because of their constant “misbehavior” make it seems beyond difficult to reach. Then comes the question, how do we make an impact on the lives of the difficult student?

Discover The Motivating Factor:

Over the years I have had several parents express to me that they would like for their child to have an “intrinsic” desire to do their best at school. Although, I believe it is important for us all to have an “intrinsic” desire to do everything we do, that is not always the case. For example, I know we all love our jobs, but I know that I am personally motivated to keep coming each day, because I get paid. It is the same for our students some will give you a little more when they have something to work for. Now, I have heard many express that it appears that you are bribing the child when you give them free time for working or an earned privilege. If you offer the reward before the expected behavior then it’s a motivator, if you offer it after the student has begun behaving in a way that is not preferred then it becomes a bribe.

Get to know your students a little more, maybe with an interest inventory to discover what may motivate him to make an appropriate choice.

Point Sheets

Within the Behavior Intervention Classroom we often use point sheets to help the students monitor his behavior throughout the day. Our point sheet is mainly focused on the behavior goals for each student. However, there are several point sheets provided online that are more reflective of the general education classroom. Locate the point sheet that best reflects the needs of your student. Another great resource for creating point sheets is the Tough Kid Tool Box by Jenson, Rhode and Reavis. Point sheets help the students recognize what the teacher expects along with providing the teacher a mode for reinforcing the student positively.

Notice the Behavior

Notice when the disruption begins and what’s occurring prior to the behavior. Are you teaching when the student begins to cause a disruption? Are you giving another student attention when the disruption begins? Take a few days to notice the motivation behind the behaviors. Some students strive to escape the demand of the work. If this is the case it is important to keep the demand and not send the student away. But remember to NOT ENGAGE IN A POWER STRUGGLE - you are the teacher and you are always in charge, so there is no need to argue with the student about what he will do. Keep the demand while remaining calm and continue working with your other students. Which leads to another motivation for student disruption - attention seeking. If the student is looking to get attention for his behavior from you or the other students, planned ignoring has been useful. Teach your other students how to ignore the behavior as well by reinforcing the positive behavior and reinforcing those that do not laugh or participate with the one disrupting the class. Lastly, make sure that you are consistent with your planned ignoring or demand keeping, because the moment you give in you may have to work a bit harder the next time.

In Conclusion……

One of the most helpful tools I have learned over the years for working with students that may seem “difficult,” is to build rapport and just take the time to get to know them. There truly is something great inside each of the students we work with and it is rewarding to know that we each have an opportunity to help them discover their very best.

Positive Reinforcers - By Mrs. Jacobs

Behavior is part of everyday life. Positive and negative behaviors contribute to our classroom environment. Our challenge is to identify positive reinforces and consequences that are individualized to the student and appropriate for the situation. Each child has something different that drives or motivates them. It is important to find out that special something and that takes time. You have to invest time into each student to get to know them. As adults, we also like reinforces. I will work for chocolate, especially dark chocolate!

We use a points system to reinforce positive behavior and to acknowledge a negative behavior. The points are tallied to coordinate to our level system. The level system is what identifies the privileges or rewards earned. We have custom made goals for each student. An example of an individual point system can be: controlling aggression, staying on task, and following directions. The goal of each section is to obtain a 100 for the day. If a 90-100 for the week is obtained, the student will remain at the highest level and receive the extra reinforces.

Earning tickets to shop in our classroom reward store, extra free time and teacher cartwheels down the hall have been successful to reinforce positive behavior.

When working through elimination of negative behaviors, the consequence is not a one size fits all! Each should be tailored to the individual child and situation for effectiveness. The punishment needs to fit the crime. For example, if a student acts silly or disrupts class, he loses one point on his self control section. One point loss will remind him to keep his behavior in check while still having the opportunity to earn rewards. If a student shows physical aggression to another student or adult, this situation would result in an immediate level drop for the remainder of the week.

Consistency in keeping demands as proved to be an effective way to wrap everything together. Behavior is also dependent upon outside influences; not feeling well, fight at home with sibling, lack of breakfast, etc. I can be cranky without my coffee, so I understand!

Encouragement- By Mrs. Gilbert

If I am in a classroom helping with Inclusion and see that a student is not engaged (using ELA as an example)- I may go to the table with the student(s) that are off task and ask about the assignment. Usually the student(s) can explain and we get started. I walk around the whole class and help my Inclusion students, as well as the others that seem to need help getting started. They usually are willing to get engaged with a little “Love Push”. I like to try and use the “Love Push” to re-direct a student and the student can feel like they are helping me out (but really they are just getting back on track without being called out). A smile and praise, even if it has nothing to do with the assignment, can “switch gears” and this can be used to get them started in class and change an unacceptable behavior without even using a word. I like to look at each child as what they are capable of doing today and build on that level instead of “someday” they will be able to.

Outside the classroom, I try to explain behavior/expectations of our school and what is expected of our class. We are a whole family and we need to take care of each other. Every day is a new day and we can learn from a mistake to change and improve. Our good choices that we model each day can lead to examples that others will follow.

In Fine Arts with classes, I try to remind students of the rules, if needed, and praise how a student is doing. Sometimes if a student is not making exactly the right choice, again, I try to find something to praise the student for and then quietly remind them of the behavior or work that is expected. The “Love Push” and a smile goes a long way when you are correcting a student without the student even realizing they are being redirected in front of their peers.

We all are different and what works with one may be a flop with another so I try really hard in building a relationship with the students at our school. I love working here and helping out the staff and students.

Relationships - By Mrs. Russo

It has been my experience that a child must first trust you before they will listen to you. One way to gain that trust is to make sure that you always do what you say you are going to do. Kids need to have a very clear knowledge of what the expectations are, and both the positive and negative consequences of their choices and behaviors. This requires a very clear and uncomplicated system, used to earn points for meeting expectations, a clear understanding of levels (based on points), and what privileges are associated with each level. It is imperative that you then follow through. Students will take notice of your interactions with other students. If they see that everyone is working from the same playbook, it will be much easier to get them on board. Otherwise it is like asking them to play a game where someone can keep changing the rules.

Further, children need to feel that you genuinely like them. As adults and educators, we often tell them we care about them, but I had my eyes opened by a student who told me that saying we care about them is not the same as actually liking them, and that they can tell the difference, or if we are not being genuine. In pursuit of building a better relationship with them, it helps to learn their interests, and show true interest in it yourself. I've also had a lot of luck with asking questions, letting them know that you are asking them because you recognize it is something they know more about that you. It's a great confidence booster!

It is hugely important to model self-control. It is hard to get a child to show self-control, when they see you do not have self-control. Maintain a calm demeanor, and do not let them engage you in an escalating battle of wills. The teacher is the leader, they will ultimately do as you have asked. In the end, it really doesn't matter if the child does their assigned work from their desk or in a corner with a clipboard. It matters most that they do the assignment. If you utilize a "quiet corner" in your room, it generally is not going to matter if they stand or sit on their pockets. Don't turn it into a battle of wills.

Always use a respectful voice when dealing with the kids, and they will be more likely to use one with you.

Work out something that is a special signal or message between you and the child. If they are becoming anxious, they can use it to let you know they need some support, maybe even to leave the gen-Ed room to go to the quieter BIC room. Praise the child for recognizing their feelings and letting you know, so you can respond and help them keep the situation From escalating. Sometimes all it takes is a short little break to decompress, and they can get back to work. It also is great not only to praise them directly, but let them hear you praise them to others.

Often kids come into BIC with their guard up, thinking of us as their enemy. I use some or all of these tactics (depending on the specific child) to help the child see that I am not their enemy, but rather their ally. I work everyday in the hope of making a positive influence in their life. They know without a doubt that I truly like them and want to be helpful in their efforts to be successful.

Overcoming The Hurdles - By Mrs. Douglass

Being a teacher is one of the most rewarding occupations, as we get to assist students in developing and then displaying their understanding. Often students will encounter “hurdles” that we need to help them navigate around to bolster their proficiencies and confidence. Key to this is getting to know your students, their interests, challenges, motivations, and of course and most importantly, communicating that you genuinely care about them and their success at school.

When a student or your class does come to a “hurdle” we have the opportunity to be creative about how we can help them “jump” over it. Here are some suggestions that work for us. Perhaps the student or your class needs a “brain break”, or just a few minutes to regroup, calm down, and reboot before tackling the “hurdle” again. Have a short GoNoodle movement break ready to go on your computer or the student computer with headphones, or play a quick game of Simon Says. Individually establish an area within your classroom utilizing a timer with short activity choices and guidelines where you can direct or the student can request to take a quick brain break.

Next, if a student is “stuck”, encouragement goes a long way. Let them know that you are confident they can accomplish the task and you are there to support them. Guarantee success by guiding them to the correct answer to build in success, or vary the task by moving from an easy problem or portion to a harder, more complex task. Heavily praise success, genuine attempts, reward, and reinforce. Visibly chunk the work for them. Fold a worksheet, assign odd or even, choose what is necessary to show student understanding, or better yet have the student choose their problems or task with your direction. Remember the goal is to get your student or class over that “hurdle” and build their confidence for the next time.

Choice is another pivotal strategy for supporting our students.

Let them choose and take ownership of their “jumping” over the hurdle. Again this is guided by the teacher, but is very enticing when we tailor or allow customizing of the learning product to our individual students’ needs and interests.

Choice in where they do the assignment, i.e. flexible classroom spaces, how they do the assignments, offering choice boards, materials, technology, and lots of possible outcomes to demonstrate their learning. Developing a play, creating artwork, composing a song, designing a poster, creating a video or advertisement, making a game, writing a play, brochure, commercial, even producing the assessment for their learning are just a few of the many options we can offer our students. Let them come up with choice options to help them get “unstuck”, and you will probably see a student who turns around and eagerly flies over their earlier obstacles.

The Principal Ponders

I asked everyone at the start of the school year to focus on building relationships with students. Sometimes this is easier said than done with some kids, but as Rita Pierson said, “No significant learning can occur, without a significant relationship.” I can’t think of a situation where a student/teacher relationship is more crucial than when it comes to discipline.

Everything I learned about discipline as a teacher had to do with punishment – something to be “done” to the child for breaking a rule and it always focused on what the child did wrong. Even Assertive Discipline, which was the name of the game back in the day, and was supposed to provide students with “warm and positive” support, focused on the consequence, no matter how warm and fuzzy it was presented.

At the elementary level, we are in a unique position to actually change behavior. We have the opportunity to teach kids the right choices to make before they spend too much time making the wrong choice; however, it is my belief that we can’t do it using punitive measures.

The OSE Core Values provide us a foundation upon which to build a discipline system based on restorative practices. When you google “restorative discipline,” you will see many different explanations. The main concept is that when dealing with a conflict, restorative discipline practices ask 3 questions:

· What happened?

· Who has been affected?

· What am I going to do to make things right?

This allows students the opportunity to take full responsibility for their behavior by addressing the individual(s) affected by their behavior. By taking responsibility, students must: understand how their behavior affected others, acknowledge that their behavior was harmful to others, take action to repair the harm done, and make the changes necessary to avoid repeating the same behavior in the future. The student is provided the opportunity to learn a better way to behave by being taught directly, rather than by being punished. Not only does this build and maintain healthy student/teacher relationships, but it also keeps kids in the classroom where they can learn. Additionally, it gets them to talk about what they did and resolve conflict in a positive way. It helps them develop rational skills—to understand a situation, follow a process and resolve it. These are life skills that will benefit them for years to come.

For some this may require a change in mindset, simply because discipline has always been about consequences – that’s just “the way it has always been done.” But if we’re going to make a true difference in student behavior, student/teacher relationships and the students’ future, this is a change that must be made. Our kids deserve it!

Worth Watching--You Will Never Forget This Story:

I Am -- Because of You! (Dr. Adolph Brown)

Want to read some more about student engagement? Check out THIS book in Traci's office. It's a good one!

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Tech Corner

Class Dojo -- Watch the video below to learn more about this online behavior tool.
ClassDojo: Teach what matters most.