After School Program teacher- serious problems with one student

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Granta_Omega, Jan 5, 2017.

  1. Granta_Omega

    Granta_Omega Rookie

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    *Warning* This is a bit of a lengthy post. I think maybe early childhood educators might have more experience with students like this.

    I graduated with an education degree for middle school, but I dropped from the internship due to my autism making it nearly impossible for me to keep up with the curriculum, so I am a graduate student for software engineering. However, I teach at a daycare center while I go to graduate school. I work with kids as young as babies during the day, and after school I pick up kids on the bus.

    The first two weeks the class was just really out of control and I had to have a couple meetings and come up with some rules and expectations with them to get order going, and for the most part everything seems to be going smooth, except for one child.

    This kid argues and challenges everything you ask him to do no matter how minor, and when I'm doing a lab or an activity for them I specifically state to wait until the end for questions, and he interrupts me every 5 seconds to ask questions anyway. He bullies other kids, one kid specifically gets bullied by him every day. He's a 7 year old boy, and she is a 5 year old girl. I found out from management that his teachers in school tell them that he changes the entire dynamic of the classroom and makes their job more difficult. I haven't been able to do a lot of projects with the group I'd like to, because I know I won't get through it in the little time we have having to yell at him every few minutes, and sometimes it has to be a day when his dad picks him up early before we can do a more complex fun activity as a group.

    During holiday break, it was just unbearable dealing with him. He was throwing tantrums and fits, hitting me, etc. One day there was a 5 year old girl who brought in a journal to write in that she just got as a Christmas present, and he scribbled in it and tore it up, and when I asked him why he did that, he responded that he thought it was the girl's that he bullies, and he was doing it because he hates her. When I told him his consequence was going to be missing the movie the class was watching and going to another room, he went off and threw a fit around the whole daycare center and had to be restrained.

    Earlier this week, we were doing a lab activity, and another kid was teasing when he had vinegar on his hands saying he was going to touch him with it, so he picked up a chair and threw it across the room. I told him and the kid that started it that they were out of the lab and were going to sit at the silent table, and he started to scream, cry, throw a fit, hit me, etc. The director had to call his father, and his father got here and was blaming the whole thing on us, saying that his kid threw the chair because he was likely being threatened and cornered, which was not happening at all, and he said everyone is always against his kid and blaming all the problems on him and not the kids starting it, and we reminded him that the other kid had the same consequence as well. He was going off insulting our director, and she asked him to leave, and me about twice his size got in front of him and told him he needed to leave as well. He was saying maybe the problem is the teachers here, and I said, "No, maybe the problem really is like father, like son." After that, the director told me to go somewhere else for a few minutes.

    She called the father's ex-wife and explained the situation, and said that the next incident would be the last straw, so there was a clear final warning.

    I really just don't know what to do really. A person from the childcare department near here was talking to me about the incident and suggesting maybe trying to give him more responsibility. He offers to sweep the patio out on the playground sometimes because I give him reward tickets that they use to redeem on prize day when we have it, so that's one things that works. However, the real problem is that he never takes an ounce of ownership for anything he has done. It's never his fault to him, and it's never fair if there is a negative consequence to his behavior.

    I don't hate this kid, but I think part of another problem is we may be the wrong daycare center for him. The issue is we only have 13 kids total in the after school program, and never are all 13 there on the same day. So, we don't really have the staff to do separate activities and clubs the way other daycare centers do. The other problem is, the issue the child has are going to take awhile to be fixed, so he is going to get kicked out within the next few weeks I can almost be sure of. I think if he gets the right help from a professional he can start over at a new place that is more engaging and has more activities to choose from, but he is going to have some problems there to in the beginning, but maybe it will be different if he isn't on his last straw like he is with us.

    I care enough because I dealt with anger issues more in a different form when I was his age, and I don't really want him to deal with the trauma of being dis-enrolled from a program in dramatic fashion, but I'm not sure anything I can do can help fix things before he gets kicked out. I've been able to be civil with his dad for the most part, except for a couple days ago when we had an argument, and I heard he called to apologize, so I don't know if there is any way he'd listen to me if I made a suggestion to him that some other places might be a better fit to his son, because the staff there don't like either of them for the most part and it's going to very hard for them to be patient and understanding from here on forward, and I can't really plan any activities all the kids are going to enjoy and be engaged in, because they are very different people, and not enough of a group to separate groups based on hobbies.

    Or, the other option, should I just be completely not involved in giving any parenting advice to his father and wait for him to inevitably get kicked out?

    Our management is very down to earth and humorous about it, and even were making jokes saying I'm probably going to end up as the daycare center bouncer given I'm about 3 times the size of most parents and almost threw him out the door.
     
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  3. Obadiah

    Obadiah Cohort

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    Jan 5, 2017

    I remember an administrator once commenting how education courses often don't fully prepare a teacher for the classroom management situations they will encounter. I know I learned a lot from the school of experience as I'm sure most other teachers have. I don't mean to sound critical, but I noticed some red flags in your post. I agree with you, both the student and the father are approaching their difficulties inefficiently. Often parents see situations from a different angle and at first, they often they blame the school or daycare.

    When a child responds to feelings of anger aggressively, if the teacher responds aggressively one of two results occur. The child fearfully succumbs to the teacher's directions or the child's aggressiveness continues to try and fence off the new aggression from the teacher. In the first result, the child is learning that "might makes right", and the child is learning that if he wants to resolve future situations, he needs to be stronger than the aggressor. Personally, I have concerns about this lesson. In the second result, the child is continuing to defend himself from a perceived discomfort plus the new discomfort from the aggressive teacher. In more technical terms, the child is responding from his lower brain; when a child is in this state of mind, he is not thinking logically from his upper brain. Personally, I try to not display anger to students and I actually (when I'm alone) practice responding appropriately to pretend situations--yes, I play school for about 5 minutes a day as a drill to be sure I do not lose my temper during a real situation.

    Unfortunately, by January this student's reactions have become a conditioned behavior, but fortunately, 7-year-olds are more understanding than adults and their brains are more flexible. He will understand that the old procedures are not working. A quick comment about the "giving more responsibility" and rewards suggestion--some teachers find this highly successful, but personally, I have concerns about this tactic but highly respect the other school of thought on this and I'm not totally against rewards.

    Thomas Gordon's approach would advise discussing the situations with the student, I'd advise discussing both the positive and negative situations that occur in daycare, and using "whenever" messages to discuss how some problem solving approaches aren't working and how others will work better. "Whenever you hit a student, that student doesn't want to play with you anymore. Whenever you refuse to do something, it keeps us from working on our lab project." Overall, the whenever messages should mostly focus on the group cooperation rather than just on the student's individual gains or rewards. (Not that the word whenever needs to be used, but the general thought is to assist the student in thinking out his reactions beforehand or before the next occurrence). When I discuss such matters with a student, I find my ears to be a better tool than my mouth; I listen, but I also remind the student that I'm speaking quietly and respectfully to him/her, so I ask that s/he speaks the same way to me during our conversation.

    Attempting to scold a child during a meltdown is useless. The exception is when a child needs to be restrained (sometimes verbally) due to safety or destructive issues. The original purpose of a time out was to provide the child a respite from their distress until s/he can calm down; the tricky part is avoiding a power struggle in getting the child to the time out area. A possible solution is to stand with the child until s/he calms down, if possible; perhaps you and the student could develop a plan of what to do when he needs a calming down time.

    I would advise that you and the student have a set of consequences for misbehavior. All societal groups have penalties for disrupting the groups' goals. Rewards are fun, but Alfie Kahn advises that rewards can sometimes make the activity that must be performed first seem like an obstacle standing in the way of the reward, therefore the activity could become detested. Again, with respect to the other school of thought on this, I would especially advise against offering special rewards to this particular student. If rewards are used, I'd advise that they be consistent and standard for the entire group. (Although classical conditioning is a realistic learning system, I personally am not favorable to its extensive use and prefer more upper brain instructional methods).

    Some books I would recommend are, in order of which I would most recommend: Siegel, Daniel J. and Tina Payne Bryson. No-Drama Discipline: The Whole-Brain Way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind. New York: Bantam, 2014. E-book ISBN is 978-0-345-54805-4. Library nbr. is 649.1; Gordon, Thomas. Teacher Effectiveness Training; Kohn, Alfie. Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A’s, Praise, and other Bribes. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1993 (I don't totally agree with Kohn, and I question how the mentioned experiments had other possible interpretations, but overall, I've witnessed how rewards can become the ultimate goal rather than the enjoyment/learning of the activity). One more quick tip that I think you'll find quite effective. Reading aloud to students has an overall effect of growing their upper brain thinking skills--I'd recommend that over movies. When movies are viewed, I'd prefer the ones that include and portray adults as positive influences in a child's life. Modern Kid-Vid tends to portray kids as being the main source of instructions and when parents/teachers are portrayed, they are shown as being less of a knowledgeable resource. I'd bet kids today would still enjoy old TV favorites such as Sky King, Timmy and Lassie, Dennis the Menace (the old original black and white version for TV, not the newer ones), Captain Kangaroo, Ranger Hal (a local show that is available on DVD I just read recently), etc.
     
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  4. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Jan 5, 2017

    Great advice, Obadiah. I would sit the child away from others when he acts up (if you can keep him in a neutral area), have him sit with me during instructions and ask him to demonstrate whatever possible, share social stories with him, ask him to draw a picture of himself responding inappropriately and another picture responding appropriately, use a behavior report with ten-minute time-frames that lengthens as soon as he begins to improve, send a note home about appropriate behavior as frequently as possible. That's my two cents worth. (I've raised an oppositional-defiant kids, now 33, with many diagnoses over the years. He still lives with me and is still oppositional and passive aggressive, so I know how tiring this is. )
     
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  5. Granta_Omega

    Granta_Omega Rookie

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    Today when I picked the kids up from school, he was sitting with another group, and the school said he wasn't coming with us today. We found out later that his parents have decided to put him in a karate after school program instead, so he is no longer my responsibility. It appears they took a hint when the director told them the next incident would be the last straw. I just hope his father gets his act together and doesn't mess up his life. I'm very glad he is doing martial arts after school instead though. He needs a place to release his energy positively, and those who have worked to get their 3rd or 4th degree black belt won't tolerate any kind of disrespect from him.
     
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  6. PEteacher07

    PEteacher07 Cohort

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    Where I struggle with giving kids more responsibility who misbehave a lot like the child you are describing is that I don't want to give them those special jobs. To me, kids who get special jobs are kids who behave, are responsible, and are good citizens. Why would I want to reward kids with special jobs who act poorly? Argh. It's hard for me. I'll admit it.
     
  7. Granta_Omega

    Granta_Omega Rookie

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    Jan 8, 2017

    Having a job to do kept him from getting himself into trouble. If other kids complain that they want a job, I can find something for them too.

    The other issue I'm having is not necessarily bad behavior, but it just seems the kids have no attention span. The other teacher is working with 2 year olds now because he couldnt get them to pay attention for 3 minutes to get an activity going, and I'm having the same issue. I honestly also find that when I help taking care of the 2 and 3 year olds, they have a better attention spans than the 5-8 year old kids. It honestly feels like much less stress having to run around after the 2 year old kids and change their diapers than it does doing just 1 activity with the after school kids.

    I already had to warn them that the next time they leave Legos or blocks laying around and then just run off to something else without cleaning up, that I'm getting rid of them in our room. What's funny is that the boys are generally neater at cleaning up messes than the girls in my group, and you'd think it was the other way around.

    I think maybe the problem is it is after school and they just wanna run around and play, which I don't really have a problem with if they all just wanna go right to the playground after snack, but some of them wanna do activities too, and it makes it hard because we have a small group leader, so everyone had to do the same activity because it's just me.
     
  8. Secondary Teach

    Secondary Teach Rookie

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    Jan 8, 2017

    Yeah, I agree with giving him a task to do or assigning him as your "teacher's helper" as this helps to keep him motivated and feel encouraged. You should have a paraprofessional in your room, and this person could be used to plan out and use individualized activities with this student. Either you or your para could work one on one with this student. You can also try pairing the student up with a high achieving or well behaved student during work time (heterogeneous grouping).
    :)
     
  9. Obadiah

    Obadiah Cohort

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    I agree with you, insisting on keeping the room tidy is important. The room is safer and the students brains are more organized. The difference noticed between the boys and girls (unfortunately) is a learned response. Organization of items involve mathematical skills, and boys tend to favor math more than girls, but again, this is a socially learned response developed from the way some parents and teachers respond to visual-spatial activities in boys. I like the cleaning song to the tune of "Are You Sleeping Brother John?" Neat and tidy / Neat and tidy / That's the way / That's the way / We will keep our classroom / We will keep our classroom [or daycare, playroom, etc.] / Every day / Every day. A possible way to encourage this is to role play. Set up a game where the students will play with the toys, then when a signal is given the students put everything away properly and begin a new activity, perhaps crawling around the room pretending to be hippopotamuses or something. I'd probably use a visual signal; probably one or two kids will spot the signal at first, then their response will notify the others. At this age, I'd keep the game non-competitive. I would then call for a carpet time for the kids to discuss how the activity went. Their verbalizations will reinforce the learning. I'd even repeat the game a couple more times.

    I personally have a hard time believing in attention spans. Kids attend to whatever stimulation is present. 2-year-olds attend vastly differently than 5-year-olds. That's because their brain is still overloaded with potential pathways of learning and it's like the road construction crew inside their brain is on overtime. Also, much of the learned responses toward stimuli present in a 5-year-old has yet to be developed in a 2-year-old. Concerning choice of activities, 5-year-olds might experiment with various responses to see how the teacher responds or to see if their perceived needs are being met, but they will also readily learn to follow the teacher's guidance and join in the activity that the entire group is doing. I'd respectfully acknowledge any moans or groans, but gently continue setting up the whole group activity. I've learned that my gentle smile is stronger than any threat.

    Would possibly a group action song be helpful in activity transition? Are Romper Room songs (a TV show when I was a kid) still available anywhere. I'm thinking of Bend and stretch / Reach for the stars / Here comes Jupiter / There goes Mars / Bend and stretch / Reach for the sky / Standing on tippy-toes up so high. Or perhaps play Baby Elephant Walk on a CD and march around Follow the Leader style with the teacher walking like an elephant, stopping to get a drink of water, turning in a slow circle (elephant style of course), etc. Then there's always the Hokey Pokey.
     
  10. Granta_Omega

    Granta_Omega Rookie

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    Jan 8, 2017

    Some of them are as old as 7 or 8 and comment about how they're too old for songs and books they think are for babies.
    I've been able to come up with some ways to get their focus and attention, but it's keeping it that's the problem.
     
  11. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Fanatic

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    Jan 8, 2017

    Does everyone have to do the same activity? I don't know what your room/space layout is like, but is there space for choice centers, plus a center that you could run that is optional? After school programs are tough, because students have been in school all day. Many had an early start at the "Before school program" and do just need time to chill and relax or run off that pent up energy after school. Is there room for choices?

    If choices aren't an option, is there a way to create a schedule that allows for everyone's preferences? I.e. snack time, play ground time, indoor choice time, teacher led activity, etc.
     
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  12. Obadiah

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    OK...yes...this is something I've informally observed, also, with 7-9 year olds in today's culture. They seem to think they're teenagers. Some research is blaming this cultural shift on television and video games, and I'm becoming convinced that this is the case. My third graders would describe to me the shows they watch and although even in my day we watched some adult level programs (The Flintstones, My Favorite Martian, Mr. Ed, etc.), today's Kid Vid is very teenage oriented, but presented in a young child format. Yes, my generation had that, too. I think it was the Teen Titans, teenage super-heroes who were old enough to drive or fly a plane and said new colloquialisms such as "Man! or Cool!" But today's young teenage Disney stars approach teenage situations and portray life as being a teenager according to media writers perspectives, and most disturbingly, approach situations without the help of bumbling parents and teachers (as I alluded to above). Video games have evolved from electronic ping pong to realistically shooting people (and that's a mild description)--I doubt (hopefully!!!) this age group hasn't begun experimenting with what older siblings are playing with, but their brains are being reprogrammed, literally, physically, by the overuse of video games which reinforce lower brain development and actually interfere with upper brain development. In most video games, the best way to advance to higher levels is to use and build up the lower brain and shun the upper brain (Grossman, Lt. Col. Dave, Kristine Paulsen, and Katie Miserany, 2016). At the same time, few kids this age have outdoor play experiences (Louv, Richard, 2008) which some research suggests restricts emotional and ultimately social development. Wow, I feel more like the bearer of bad news in writing this, rather than offering suggestions. What I would recommend, though, is acknowledging the feelings and expressions of the students, but continuing to offer the activity you are providing. They might be attempting a power struggle and will eventually learn to appreciate what is being offered and attend to it. I would especially concentrate on involving their participation by including open ended questions or encouraging their comments. This age loves to comment. If a story is "too babyish", afterwards, possibly lead a discussion on how they would rewrite it. This age, for some weird reason, are sometimes discouraged in school and at home from using picture books, but so-o-o-o many wonderful picture books are available just for this age group and even older! This is unfortunate. But I would not avoid reading aloud "chapter books", either. There are many that are still suitable for 5-year-olds to listen to along with the older students. For outdoor activities, I'd recommend checking with the local park service for ideas or books from Project Wild. I've used several of their activities on the playground and they'd be suitable for a wide range of ages to participate in.
    Sources:
    Grossman, Lt. Col. Dave, Kristine Paulsen, and Katie Miserany. Assassination Generation: Video Games, Aggression, and the Psychology of Killing. N.Y.: Little, Brown and Co., 2016 (Some of this book also refers to younger children's playing and viewing habits. A startling section shows two fMRI's of brains, one that uses video games and one that doesn't).
    Louv, Richard. Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder. Chapel Hill, North Carolina: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2008 (revised edition).
     
  13. Granta_Omega

    Granta_Omega Rookie

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    Jan 9, 2017

    I'm sort of in a bit of a dilemma here not really knowing exactly what to do, because some days I enjoy it when the kids are behaving and things are going smoothly, but a lot of days I feel as if it's not really what I signed up for as I was hoping there'd be a good portion of children 8 and up, but most of them are little and my personality just isn't matching.

    I could be working at a hotel right now making more money and 3rd shift to do my school work like I got through my bachelor's with, but I wouldn't get to have the moments I enjoy with the kids, which there are some, but part of me also doesn't like dealing with the scrutiny and liability of working with children. On top of that, I watch 3-4 year old kids during nap times who just don't listen to me until I start to yell, and then they cry if I yell at them, but they don't cry when the women that work there yell at them.

    I remember getting a bit frustrated working with 9-13 year old kids from time to time, but never to the point where I just end up yelling and telling them to shut up, which I've probably only ever said a couple times.
     

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