A Student Who Needs Some Love

Discussion in 'General Education' started by sjanew15, Apr 11, 2017.

  1. sjanew15

    sjanew15 Rookie

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    Apr 11, 2017

    I have a student who has checked out of school (really hates it, has been told so many times he is a problem child by previous teachers), that he has developed some bad behaviors to cope with it. He started this behavior in kindergarten with his previous teacher and has not stopped since. He is currently six going on seven (having his seventh birthday soon), and I can see that he hates school. He:

    1) Has gotten so used to flipping his ticket (his classroom teacher uses a ticket system to keep track of student behavior), that he doesn't care anymore. He actually smiles at his teacher when she makes him flip his card. He gets sad when I do it, though, because I tell him he has a good heart and he can be good.

    2) Has a case of the excessive wiggles. Can't do the criss cross apple sauce sit quietly on the carpet thing for an extended period of time like he is required to. Now, I know all kids have trouble sitting for a long time, but this kid goes maybe five or so minutes before his body explodes and he can't keep the wiggles in. I addressed this by teaching him some ways to move so that he doesn't hurt his friends. He also gets a seat in the back row (I only teach five kids when I am with him, so he is still pretty close to me in terms of proximity).

    3) He pretends not to know how to follow directions and is now openly defiant to all the adults who have worked with him for a long time. He flashes a cute smile, his eyes get this evil little spark, and then he does whatever he wants.

    4) Gets easily over-excited or over-stimulated and then there is no calming him down.

    5) tries to touch everything he can, and today put a small bottle cap in his mouth. The lunch lady thought he was going to choke on it.

    6). He craves physical attention and just cannot stay out of people's space. He regularly tries to crawl into my lap or will touch my hair or things. When he has a good day I do often hold his hand or let him sit/stand near me when he reads.

    What are some strategies I can try to help this kid? I do not want to be the teacher that helps this kid remain fearful/hateful about school. I have been telling him for the past two days that he is good, I know he can do it. He has been pushing back, but time will tell. I also have a token economy in the classroom where stickers = a trip to the prize box. That doesn't work for him, though, so I'm tweaking the token economy to earn him a trip to do something fun he likes (like play on the iPads, cuddle up and read books on topics he likes with someone he likes).
     
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  3. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Apr 11, 2017

    Sounds like the CST should have him on their radar. Perhaps they could give some guidance.
     
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  4. sjanew15

    sjanew15 Rookie

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    I am his pull-out ESL teacher. His general education teacher almost never refers students to the CST team (we call it the RTIC review team) here. In the two years I have worked with her I have had four kids that I would have referred for extreme behavior differences and she referred zero of them. They had to wait until second grade to get checked out. His mom has been made well aware of what is happening with her son through conferences and phone calls home and she is at a loss for what to do. His teacher recommended getting checked out by his physician and if any paperwork is sent to the school, the school will take a look at it. That's about as far as it has gotten this year. I can't refer without the classroom teacher being on board, and she has yet to take action. This morning he was running around the atrium refusing to go to class, so a third grade teacher grabbed his hand and walked him down to his classroom. That was just the start of a long day with a kid who I know can do good things (and has done good things) at times this year. Again, I just don't want to reinforce his hatred of school...
     
  5. miss-m

    miss-m Devotee

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    Apr 11, 2017

    What consequences are in place other than Card flipping? This kid needs some consistent boundaries besides "when you do this, you flip a card to show you did something bad." And ultimately nothing will work if the classroom teacher isn't on board as well, or he's just getting mixed messages.
     
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  6. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    Apr 11, 2017

    Does he have the opportunity to expend some of his energy either in an OT / sensory / whatnot room before working? It sounds like the kid has so much energy that that could help him focus better (the physical being taken care of).

    I also agree with miss-m with regards to needing some specific boundaries set: there needs to be a line in the sand, and there needs to be natural consequences, not card flipping (what does that teach him?), that follow each time he makes a choice not to stay within the boundaries. Those consequences will probably vary for each situation, but maybe you could help come up with those? Ones that you would imagine would naturally follow from the action that was made. Affecting personal boundaries? Needs to develop an apology for that person. Off-task? Needs to complete that job during a time in which they would otherwise be doing a more-enjoyed activity..etc...

    That line in the sand would be important, as you're hinting towards, for the personal boundaries: you'll hold hands, but don't want other forms of contact: he might not fully understand that, so breaking down to what level it's appropriate and at what point it becomes inappropriate would be helpful.

    Note that this won't necessary solve it all: just some thoughts/things I might try if I had that student.
     
  7. sjanew15

    sjanew15 Rookie

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    In his teacher's classroom, the kid gets his card flipped if he misbehaves. There are certain color cards that correspond to different actions and consequences: Green = you are having a good day. Yellow means = you need to think about it. Purple = warning and red = you miss your recess and you go in time out. He has been getting it flipped pretty consistently over the past two weeks. He often gets put in a time out chair if he is having a really rough day. The teacher also turns his desk around to face the wall so that he can't look at anything other than the wall and his classwork. I have been in there a couple of times and I can't think of any positive reinforcement that gets used in the classroom. He basically loses playtime if he doesn't behave and that is one of the last straws before his teacher sends him to the principal's room.

    I would love to take this kid to the gym or something to run laps like we do with another kid with similar issues, but I can't. He gets no opportunities during the day to expend his energy in a sensory way through ot/pt/anything else except during play time. I pick him and four other people up for ESL services five minutes before they finish lunch (this is the time his teacher requested I take them). He is definitely getting mixed messages because his teacher thinks "what I do in the classroom is good enough." Every time I tell her that he didn't follow directions she asks, "what did you do in the classroom? You talked to him and didn't give him a sticker? That works." She won't deal with it. The most she lets me do is pull him during playtime to finish his work. I've done that twice and he was miserable the whole time. Constantly was asking to go back and play and I had to say, "I don't want to hear it. You are a good kid. You can do good." I would redirect him back to the work.

    My rules and consequences are the following: I sat my class down about two weeks ago and told them how learning in the different zones in my classroom looks. I told them how to answer questions, re-reviewed the rules with them (keep your hands to yourself, respect your classroom, and follow the directions the first time). I taught students that wiggling is okay, but you need to do it responsibly. I gave students two carpet squares each to sit on (this class is a very active class). I showed students some non-examples of following the rules. I told students what would happen if they didn't follow the rules (warning, return to table seat, loss of sticker). I told them if they lose a sticker for a big problem (such as moving around too much, getting in another student's ways, consistently not following directions), there would be a phone call home. I try to use positive language to frame these interactions: here is what we need to work on, and we can work on it together. With this kid his main social/behavior goals are: find a safe way to deal with your energy.
    Learn to interact positively with peers and adults.

    I want to have a heart to heart serious discussion with this class after spring break. I want to sit them down and talk about the different ways students learn and how it is acceptable to behave during different situations. I have told him what consequences are in my classroom, we sat down and discussed acceptable ways to wiggle, and he knows if he can't keep his actions from affecting others, that he gets a quiet seat to sit in. I am going to write the rules and boundaries that I come up with down so that I have a list, and I am going to go over them with the students. This will be the third time this year I review class expectations, but boy does this kid need it. We have had three major shake-ups/changes in his classroom this year (student teacher first came to school, student teacher left school and finished student teaching, and kid found out he is moving). With each change he acts out. I genuinely agree with Mathmagic in that this kid needs a way to get his energy out. He focuses better if he can exercise. I used to have this group get up and do exercise; my rule of thumb is: for every fifteen to twenty minutes in a chair or on the carpet, we do thirty seconds to one minute of exercise. It worked wonders for him. I am going to see how well that works again once I draw that boundary line. It does stink that he gets mixed messages because his classroom teacher only flips his ticket. What does that teach him? That he's bad and can't conform and should waste all his energy trying to sit in the special way they have to sit in elementary school. That doesn't work for everyone.
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2017
  8. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    It sounds like having her and you, and others to neutrally see the situation, would be important, so that you can better work together (note: because there's no tone in typing, that was not meant negatively towards you; you seem to be doing your best in that regard) to support this kid.

    Can you bring him / set up that support team meeting? Alternatively, could you ask the teacher to see if she could refer him (it can't hurt to ask)? If neither of those, you could consider bringing it up with the principal, if you don't feel that would rock the boat too much. For any/all of these, just stay 100% focused on the fact that you want to trigger this meeting or discussion because that discussion will better help support the child. Considering that is what every single person in the profession has as an initial purpose - doing what's best for the child - I wouldn't worry too much about others' reactions to your requesting a meeting.
     
  9. sjanew15

    sjanew15 Rookie

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    I went and talked to the other ESL teacher in the building about that about two months ago when his mom sent me an email and then called me to discuss what has been going on at school. I didn't want to ruffle anyone's feathers in the wrong way, especially because I have only been teaching for four years total and only two of those years have been at this school (so I'm not tenured yet). She said that I shouldn't do it because the higher-ups would prefer the initial request for a review to come from the classroom teacher herself. Plus, this teacher is, for lack of a better term, best friends with the principal, and I've been told the principal would take the other teacher's side over mine in a heartbeat if I don't have every i dotted and every t crossed. I essentially have my work cut out for me and it'll be an uphill battle, is what I gathered from that conversation. I've asked his teacher about his progress and I even mentioned a few of the phone calls I got from mom using wording like, "His mother called, then emailed me, then texted me on Class Dojo and she's really concerned about his progress. She asked me x question and I told her I would connect with you before responding. What do you think about the situation?" I would always approach it that way to get some data and she most recently said, "I'm glad mom called. He sure is squirrely." Never went beyond that. Our district has a cut off date of the first week of April (last week) for requesting RTIC review meetings to document issues with students and she never brought this kid up. I am trying my best for him and we'll see how it goes from there. It is just a shame he's having such a negative school experience from such a young age.
     
  10. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    Apr 11, 2017

    Honestly, at this point, in my humble opinion...you need to feel okay with ruffling some feathers. This is my third full year, and I'm one to be very cautious and not ruffle any feathers...so I completely understand where you're coming from. My first year, I didn't speak up nearly as much as I do now. When it comes down to it though, my job is to do what's best for each of the students, and if I hold back because I'm worried of what someone might think, that student may not receive the supports that they need.

    I chose to make a change that differed from others, and as a result, my students are literally reading twice as much as others. Required some feather ruffling and going against the "norm", but it's paid dividends.
     
  11. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    I've learned over the years that different teachers have different methods of managing a classroom. I don't always agree, but I've learned it's important to respect different philosophies.

    I saw some clues in your posts that might be helpful to address. Because he is ESL, his brain is approaching situations from two linguistic viewpoints; this is probably advantageous, but could include differences in how he assesses situations. Also, he is possibly approaching situations from two or more cultural viewpoints. When I was (much) younger, I worked at a camp that included several immigrant campers. Some assimilated into the culture readily, some seemed to incorporate both cultures, and I recall a couple of campers who experienced culture shock.

    If physical activity seems to assist him in maintaining proper decorum, ADHD is a strong possibility...but...ADHD is also overly diagnosed and overly treated with medication. Of course, referrals are the main teacher's call, but if he is referred for diagnosis, I'm assuming by now physicians should be aware of the possibility of over-diagnosis. I follow the school of thought that ADHD is not a disease but a normal alternative brain functioning.

    I'm wondering if the student might achieve more success by focusing on just one specific behavior in your classroom at a time, or perhaps two at a time. I'm very concerned that he might be perceiving behavior as a means to get or not get a reward/punishment. 50-75% of students in a classroom respond appropriately to any behavioral management program, or any instructional method (Sousa). For some, they need that extra nudge. Although many teachers will disagree with me on this, in my experience, steering away from the consistent system of management to add extra rewards for specific students eventually backfires; this age especially responds to consistency and becomes nervous during changes. The sudden positive change in response to a change in rules is usually due to this nervousness rather than the effectiveness of the extra reward.

    I agree, he needs to realize that he is not a "bad" kid. He and perhaps other teachers need to realize that he is a normal kid who has some misbehaviors to work on eliminating. I've witnessed many times teachers only perceiving and portraying certain kids according to their outstanding misbehavior, but in a 24 hour period, the amount of time spent on misbehavior is minimal. If behavior within a 24 hour period was averaged into a grade, it would still come out as an A or a B.

    I agree with your physical activity during class time especially for that age group whose muscles can even hurt sitting excessively still. The activity also kind of wakes up their brain. His misbehavior is probably originating in his lower brain and he needs to apply his upper logical brain to reorganize his behavior into acceptable decorum. Quiet signals that he and you set up might help alert him to substitute a more acceptable behavior. The main goal needs to be doing the right thing because it's socially acceptable because I am an important member of this social situation (socially among peers and the teachers); rewards and punishments should only be a secondary goal. If further class discussions are held, I would advise as much listening as possible to the student ideas (and cautiously avoiding students mentioning other students' behaviors, of course). You possibly are already doing so, but I know from my experience, I've sometimes caught myself doing more preaching than listening.

    One more quick thought, February, March, and April are often frustrating months. Some of the bumps in the road begin to be perceived as major potholes. Sometimes it helped me to briefly meditate in between teaching duties to stay within perspective. Hope things turn around for this student and the class. :)
     
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  12. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Is the teacher who will not refer still under the belief that kids must be at least 2 years behind so she won't bother referral since she feels it will be slapped down and she will get resistance for it?

    Waiting till second or third or believing behavior wasn't something that you could refer for used to be a common belif and practice.
     
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  13. GemStone

    GemStone Habitué

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    Apr 12, 2017

    ESL will compound the referral process.
     
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  14. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Does the parent know that if she requests an evaluation in writing, the team will be obligated to evaluate the child now? Key words - parent request IN WRITING. That starts the clock. It keeps your name out of the request. If mom is able to be concerned with progress or lack of progress, she should be able to do this for her son without naming your name. The progress reports have already been shared with her, so she is justified in her concern.

    Where is he in his acquisition of English? Has he just been here a year or two tops, or has he been here longer? I have seen ESL sometimes treated as SPED - extra 1:1 instruction.
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2017
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  15. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    I agree it can. In my district many ESL students actually speak English at home much of the time. So, each student needs to be looked at in terms of their actual proficiency.
     
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  16. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Since the district is RTI, be prepared with some data that you have collected. How long can he sit before exploding, being defiant, etc. Data rules the world and having data available that shows what has already be tried will make the team's job easier - they will have a better understanding of what is or is not working. The fact that you have data to share is a double plus for you!
     
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  17. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Some states are only required to consider evaluation. They can come back and say no evaluation is needed and punt it back to the parent to file due process which they know most parents either don't know what that really means or are afraid to do so/can't afford to do so.
     
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  18. GemStone

    GemStone Habitué

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    Absolutely! And remember that management of behaviors in small groups of 5 are far different than large groups of 20+ kids.
     
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  19. sjanew15

    sjanew15 Rookie

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    A2z: She is one of those "less is more" teachers. She doesn't like to refer students, and I get the impression that she is a wait until second grade rolls around sort of teacher. This happened with another one of my students last year. He was as slow as molasses. Even giving time for the language barrier, his need to translate information, and his constant need to be redirected, it once took him about a full fifteen minutes to realize he hadn't written a sentence but had just put a string of words together that made no sense. He still had to wait until second grade to get checked out (and he had the lowest scores the special education testing department had ever seen for a learning disability).

    The only conference we had on one of my kids was about one who was dropping the F-word in class (at six years old) and was acting out because he was not understanding school and had no idea what to do (this was at the beginning of the year, I have zero problems with him now).

    Vickilyn: I have lots of data. I started writing observations in a notebook and I have all my conversations with mom documented on Class Dojo and email. I have his assessments documented, classwork documented (a lot unfinished because he can't sit still and needs like 2.0 x the amount of time everyone else does, and I don't want to punish him by always pulling him during playtime to complete work just because he has focus issues). I have tried marking all the spots he can use with blue tape, I have tried giving him a seat in the back row of the carpet so if he moves he can do so safely, I tried a wiggle seat (but he got distracted about a month in), I have tried sending home behavior notes with mom, a seat in a quiet area of the classroom. The only thing that works is if he has proximity to the teacher and free space to move. He loves physical contact (and I don't so I'm working on some hand signals he can use to let me know he needs to get up close or go to a quiet seat to think for a bit). Today was good because I let him sit up near me while we worked and hold my hand and he was as quiet as a mouse.

    Gemstone: ESL will compound evaluations. A lot of times I wait for special education to finish their evaluation before I do an ESL screening, because if kids are ESL it takes a lot longer to get them tested for special needs. That is a lot of paperwork for the school. In my two years of teaching here I have only had one kid successfully tested for special needs and he obviously needed it. The school would have to have the whole "language versus special needs" debate and his paperwork would just stall.

    I am going to call the parent again tonight (I have been trying since yesterday) to see how far along she is with her physician's check-up of her child. She can request a look in writing, but at my school they also need paperwork from a doctor to be faxed in before anything is done. If she has the paperwork I'll tell her to fax it in.

    Vickylin: he has been in the program for two years (this will be his second year) and he has made amazing gains. His one big concern is writing and vocabulary, and he is mostly on grade level apart from his focus issues. He doesn't have any major special differences, he just learns differently and needs the space to do so. My colleague had a similar situation with one of her third grade students when he was in second grade last year. Everyone who worked with him suspected he should be tested for special needs, but it took a good chunk of last year to do so. It's the ESL and special education combo. There are a lot of meetings to be had before kids who get both ESL/special needs can get an IEP.
     

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