"Advocating with Principal"

Discussion in 'Behavior Management' started by HOPE-fulTeacher, Apr 16, 2012.

  1. HOPE-fulTeacher

    HOPE-fulTeacher Comrade

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    Apr 16, 2012

    I am a first year teacher dealing with some tough kiddos in trauma situations. Back in December/January, I had a student in full on crisis mode, with several emotional and behavioral ramifications that included repeated (almost daily) physical violence and property damage. I would have to evacuate my class and set things up to teach in the library, which interrupted not only instructional time, but has also had a lasting impact on the emotional well-being of my class. Because this was a fairly unfamiliar event at my school, I was not given much guidance on how to handle it, especially at the beginning.

    That student ended up moving to another school, but within the past month or so, I have had another student (who'd been on the radar for social and behavioral issues before, since Kindergarten) escalate his behaviors to point where they are also being a daily interruption and occasionally becoming unsafe. Furthermore, there are now 2 additional students who've seen the additional attention and modifications these other 2 students have received because of their behavior, and have become copycats of the student that is still disrupting my classroom. I have received guidance from my mentor and have gone to her repeatedly about each of the situations mentioned above; however, the interventions that she and I have set up have not been working. Also, I have not yet been formally evaluated by my principal.

    Today, my mentor advised me to meet with our P and advocate on my own behalf about the behaviors that I've been seeing and dealing with in my classroom, and to ask for help and further suggestions on things to try. (So the ball's in her court as far as helping me goes, and the record shows that I asked for help.) I am preparing a list of interventions and modifications that I have already tried with each of the students involved, and we plan to meet with her tomorrow.

    My question to you is...do you have any more suggestions on what I should do, how I should approach things. I am totally unfamiliar with school "politics", and I am especially unsure what help is available to me or what the best course of actions to take is since my state does not have collective bargaining. We have a union, but they don't have much power...

    It terrifies me that my mentor suggested I do this...she is also kind of an administrator at the school, and although she was speaking as a mentor and keeps all of our conversations confidential, I am scared that she might be nervous for my job next year.

    I would really like advice from you all on what I should do/say and what might happen because of this! :unsure:
     
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  3. agdamity

    agdamity Fanatic

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    Apr 16, 2012

    A good principal wants you to be successful and will do everything they can to help you. Has your principal said anything to you about these situations that make you think she is unhappy with your management? I think being proactive, and sharing what strategies you have tried as well as what results you have gotten is a great thing!
     
  4. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    Apr 16, 2012

    I had a class like this last year, and couldn't have survived without my principal and vice-principal. I even cried in my vice-principal's office one day out of sheer stress and exhaustion. You need them on your team, and they need to be aware of what is happening. Share what you have already tried, and seek their help. Their job is to help set up both teachers and students for success - asking for help is not a sign of weakness!
     
  5. HOPE-fulTeacher

    HOPE-fulTeacher Comrade

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    Apr 16, 2012

    My P is aware of the issues since my mentor has strongly suggested I implement a 1,2,3 you're out (and to the office) policy with those kids because their behaviors make it hard for the other kids to stay focused during learning. I know that sending kids to the office a lot isn't a good idea, and I tried to avoid doing that, but my mentor is right that it does make things go a lot smoother once they are gone and out of the classroom. I know it isn't a permanent solution though, and I'm afraid that by sending those kids down so often that 1) it won't be affective and 2) it will reflect very negatively on me. I think that might be where my mentor is coming from, since my P has seen and dealt with my kids in the office, but I haven't sat down with them and "officially" stated that I'm having trouble and need help. My mentor said that unless I do that, the P will think that I do not see it as a problem.

    So far, my P seems to like me, but they are hard to read and feelings in the building are mixed. (I am not the best at reading people anyway.) My P has mainly been concerned with whether I've submitted referrals for each incident and contacted parents. I think my P will be supportive and help me, but I'm not entirely sure that it won't come up in a negative way again later...but like I said, I am not great at reading them yet.

    I have tried many different things with these students though, and my mentor and co-workers are aware of it, so that's good. They know that I have been consistently reflecting, analyzing, and have seen me trying different things to solve the problem.
     
  6. HOPE-fulTeacher

    HOPE-fulTeacher Comrade

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    Apr 16, 2012

    PS - Here are the modifications that I'm planning to submit. Some are universal that I do with all students, and some are student specific.

    -Positive verbal reinforcement when they are showing correct behaviors
    -Visuals for mouth quiet, eyes watching, hands in lap, body still
    -Moved away from peers (sits at desk instead of the carpet)
    -Taken out by me each morning for relationship building time and to do sensory activities (while my dear aide runs calendar and starts our Reader's workshop)
    -Asking them for help with special tasks like writing on the Smartboard, using manipulatives to demonstrate something
    -Good choice jar…gets to choose either a PBIS behavior coupon, sticker, or M&M (in addition to verbal praise)
    -Special schedules for Reader’s & Writer’s Workshop (earns stars on a chart for completing certain tasks)
    -Writer’s Workshop “rewards” system (in place for all students)
    -Set up with student's former speech therapist that the student can record stories in her camera after this student finishes writing them
    -Breaks throughout the day, as needed. Break activities are sensory activities like playdough, silly putty, coloring, writing on a white board, etc.
    - Earning computer time (or other positive reward) for appropriate behavior
    - Inviting one of the students to eat lunch with me if they've had a rough morning and could use a break away from people, or as a reward for having a really good morning (and then they can also do a reading computer game they really like.)

    Some modifications have had measured, temporary success, but none have worked to the point where these students are consistently functioning regularly along with their peers.
     
  7. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    Apr 17, 2012

    Don't feel bad about sending them out. So often in these situations we focus on the 1 or 2 causing the problem, and the other 20 who want to learn are left to fend for themselves.

    My job is to teach. If someone gets in the way of that, then they are choosing to no longer be in my room. I don't send kids out unless they are affecting others' ability to learn, and the other reasonable steps I have taken don't work.
     
  8. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Apr 17, 2012

    That sounds like a pretty good list to bring to your principal. I think that you need to set a tone with the students so that they don't see misbehavior as getting them something good. Maybe start something that all kids can earn, so that it is worth behaving to them. These students may just have a smaller amount that they need to do.

    I would also try picking an intervention with the principal and tracking data on this so that you can see if it is working. Behaviors take time to change---sometimes lots of time.
     
  9. agdamity

    agdamity Fanatic

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    Apr 17, 2012

    A really good website for behavior interventions is interventioncentral.com We used it frequently at my previous school for RTI.
     
  10. strepsils

    strepsils Companion

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    Apr 18, 2012

    I have a few very difficult behaviour students this year and I am in my fifth year teaching.

    The improvement in the students in the first 10 weeks (Australia!) has been amazing, and my Principal's support is what helped.

    I set up an individual behaviour plan with these students, outlining what I expect (right down to - what is asking for help politely etc) and what I will do to help them (ie. encourage student to have a go). Then, what would happen if the student did not follow the expectations. If they are going to office, what do you want the Principal to do? Make them do work? Reflect on behaviour? Have that explicit and really make sure you and the Principal has a shared understanding of expectations and behaviour to be used.

    Whatever you decide, be consistent. If it takes the kids 2 hours to write 3 sentences with the Principal sitting right there with them -- do it. If they are spending more time with Principal than you because of behaviour choices, so be it. The students need to know that you and the Principal will not back down and it is easier to follow the expectations.

    Meet with parents explaining what you expect and what will happen. Contact them when the student is sent to the office. Shared expectations from home and school will really help.

    All the best with it. You are doing everything you can to set these students up for success - it is something to be proud of and not to cause fear about job status next year.
     
  11. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Apr 18, 2012

    Have you started implementing your ideas? How have things gone with the student in question as well as the rest of the class?
     
  12. HOPE-fulTeacher

    HOPE-fulTeacher Comrade

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    Apr 18, 2012

    catnfiddle: Yes, the things that I wrote above are things that I have already tried and/or are implementing now. Some things work some of the time, so I keep plugging along with those that do.

    agdamity: Thanks for the website tip- I will have to check that out!

    I met with my P yesterday (along with my mentor) and although I find my P hard to read (as mentioned in the OP), I think it went pretty well and my P seemed supportive. My P suggested that I look at things more universally since she could see that I'd tried a lot of student specific things that hadn't seemed to be working as well as I would've liked. My P suggested pairing me with either one of the the special ed. teachers in the building or a newer teacher to the building that had a (from what I gather) somewhat similar experience in her first year last year and have one of them do some observation, me observe them, and have some planning time to think about how to get out of the rut my class has gotten in. It makes me feel embarrassed :eek: to need this kind of help from my co-workers, especially since I am a bit of a perfectionist and have prided myself on being able to really connect with students and build a strong classroom community in the past, but I am trying to be calm and humble and realize that this help will only allow me to become a better teacher.
     
  13. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Apr 19, 2012

    Never be embarrassed to ask for help if you know you'll get it. What would we do if our students felt the same way? Glad your P gave you some useful feedback.
     
  14. HeatherY

    HeatherY Habitué

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    Apr 20, 2012

    Hugs to you!

    It so frustrates me that the common culture at my school was not to send kids to the office when the are disruptive. My neighbor teachers would warn me that it would make me look weak. But when 20 kids are struggling to learn I think it is better to let the admin deal with it and make them aware that there is a serious problem. I don't understand how we as teachers are supposed to deal with this day after day and still teach! I think you were right to share with the P.

    Have you contacted the parents? Did you write down what happened during these conversations? Has anything changed at all? Is the student receiving regular counseling with the counselor for the problems at home?

    Have you had a heart to heart with the whole class? Sounds like they see that this other student is getting attention and they want some too. Have you tried a talk on the carpet about how those behaviors make it hard for us to learn; how can we be good students; are we ready for 2nd grade; how does it make me (the teacher) feel when you all act like that; etc... That worked for some of my kids. Make a chart of good behaviors and point out kids doing good behaviors constantly. Might at least help with the situation with the rest of the class.
     

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