Handling classroom behavior: book knowledge vs what really works in the real world?

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by tek_war505, Sep 30, 2010.

  1. tek_war505

    tek_war505 Rookie

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    Sep 30, 2010

    I have been a subsitute teacher for a couple years now and I am taking classes to transition to the teaching profession. I am working on licensure in special education. I have taken about three classes now addressing classroom behavior and students who have emotional & behavioral disorders. There seems to be large gap between book knowledge and what they desire students to practice in the classroom and what teachers actually practice and what works!

    Special Education teachers I have subbed for who were effective at controlling their classrooms I have noticed practice everything and do everything I am specifically instructed NOT to do in the EBD and intervention classes I have taken.

    I notice these teachers will yell at their students at the top of their lungs, threaten the students, challenge the students and egg them on to attempt to challenge their authority, being disrespectful and giving very cutting remarks to students who step out of line, get in power struggles and always win the power struggles, readily dish out punishment to the entire class not limited to giving the whole class detentions and certian students get a whole month of detentions for misbehaving for one day in class, write referals at the drop of a hat, seeming extremely cold and rigid to students feelings.

    While I really have a strong distaste for these methods and I feel it is mean the teachers are very effective at controlling the class even though they may have caused those students to suffer pernament mental pain for the rest of their lives. This very harsh punishment at the drop of a hat seems to be practiced by principals and assistant principals at well. I have subbed for schools where the principal warned me of a few EBD students and encouraged me to write those students up at the drop of a hat and send them down to the office to him so he could personally give those students a verbal lashing. I was informed by one principal if a partically EBD student was to even get out of line just once to write him up and send him down.


    In my area I sub for the punishment and authoritarian all poweful dictator mentality seems to be the popular teaching model in the special education classes I have subbed for. Forget about behaviorism, humanism, cognative-behaviorism, psycho-educational models. That is something I only seem to read about in books, but is not practiced in the real world.

    Forget about the punishment as a last resort method toward EBD students, or pointing out to the student their irrational thinking, or analyzing what defense mechanism they are using, or trying to figure out what stimulus is causing the misbehavior, harsh unforgiving vindictive punishment seems to rule the roost. An EBD student brusies the ego of a teacher or principal it is "I AM GOING TO TEACH YOU A LESSON YOU NEVER WILL FORGET" type attitue I see most often.

    The popular and most encouraged way to deal with kids who are EBD at the schools I have subbed for is suspension/expulsion. And if a kid is EBD he seems to get ganged up upon by other teachers who want to unleash MERCILESS VENGENCE at that student.

    I felt really bad for a few EBD students I had. They told me how much they hated and feared their regular teacher, but they really liked me because I would chat with them and talk out their problems so I could understand their difficulties. I didn't blame the students at all for hating their teacher I would hate them too and I can't say I really cared much for their teacher.

    Any thoughts is this the way a principal will expect you to deal with EBD students?
     
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  3. Kate Change

    Kate Change Companion

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    Sep 30, 2010

    Well, I think it really depends on the teacher.

    When I taught ED/BD I did sometimes raise my voice and I made sure that they students knew that what I said was going to happen happened. I didn't negotiate or bargain. However, I had a textbook classroom economy which I used. I gave play money for working and charged fines for swearing or hitting and I allowed students to buy privileges. Depending on the day, I may have seemed "mean" or "too nice".

    I generally only raised my voice when things got completely out of control.

    It's possible that the principals and assistant principals are trying to ensure that everyone stays safe and follows a consistant plan. For example, if one of my students hit another student, I would call his mom. If he hit the student three different times, I'd call her three different times. She would be mad, he would beg me not to call her, but it only worked as a deterant because he knew I would do it. If I had backed down and said," well, OK, this one time, I won't call your mom." He would have been unsure of the rules and felt that we could bargain and negotiate. He would be less likely to behave if he didn't know what the outcome of bad behavior would be. It must be very, very clear when a student is demonstrating good behavior and bad behavior. The outcomes must be very different, or the student will not neccessarily choose the good behavior.

    Students in these settings are often good at manipulating and will play people off of each other. "Staff splitting" can be a major issue in these classrooms. It's very possible that the students you sub with are trying to gain your sympathy that way. I would be hesitant to believe what they are saying until you see it go on or ask their teacher why he or she is doing it that way. The answer might surprise you.

    In terms of what a principal would expect, students in these settings MUST have FBA's and BIPs. The BIP is a legal document and I'm sure principals would expect their teachers to be compliant with the BIP. The BIP is written, generally by the same team as the IEP team, but it may be a separate MDT meeting as well.
     
  4. Zelda~*

    Zelda~* Devotee

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    Sep 30, 2010

    Hello, I'm Zelda and I'm an ED teacher.

    Yes, these kids will try to manipulate by splitting staff, as Kate said.

    Each student responds to something different. I have kids I have to talk very quietly to. I have other students I can joke with to defuse---and I have others I have to yell at.

    Yes. I've had to throw some things I learned in college out the window---for certain kids. And it is _hard_ for me to do that. I don't _want_ to yell. But! Once that is done, I make sure I thank the student for complying, and talk with them quietly.

    Take what the kiddos tell you with a grain of salt. Somedays I'm "Mean" or "Fatty-fat-fat F---B" Other days its " I love you Miss Zelda!" "You're the nicest teacher ever!" :)
     
  5. tek_war505

    tek_war505 Rookie

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    I am just going by what I observe from the staff and using teaching methods that go against everything I have been taught so far. Our professors have commented not to teach the way most teachers teach in our area. I feel sorry for the kids because it appears to be very clear verbally abusive behavior that I find abusive and a total violation of that child's rights. If parents saw videotapes of the way their teacher talks to their child in class they could probably have a class action law suit. The derogatory comments I have witnessed teachers making to EBD kids is awful; they should be persecuted for child abuse that is totally uncalled for being verbally abusive to a child.Thats the problem one professor told us most parents have no idea about special education laws and that their childs rights are being violated. It really is upsetting when I witness a special education teacher who has been trained specifically to not act this way act that way because it is quick dirty way to control the class. I wish I could carry a secret camera into the school and then mail that video tape to the parents of some of these EBD kids.
     
  6. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Sep 30, 2010

    You can file an anonymous complaint with the DoE depending on the state. (I know you cannot in Texas)

    Depending on the level of abuse, the teachers may have their certifications stripped.
     
  7. tek_war505

    tek_war505 Rookie

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    Oct 1, 2010

    Ok thanks. I guess I get mad about a few isolated incidents and that discourages me when I sub. There have been very good special education teachers I have subbed for who were superstars in the classroom. The teacher I just started working with for one of my classes is an absolute superstar. She does everything we have been taught and truly loves children and her job. I have unfortunately met teachers who I got the distinct impression did not enjoy working with children and hated their job and seemed to take that anger out at their students. I just have to stay positive and remind myself of all the great teachers I have seen who work their butt off to ensure their students are given the very best education that they are entitled to.
     
  8. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Oct 2, 2010

    Yeah, there are the good apples and the bad apples. My self-contained teacher in the multiply handicapped classroom K-2 was amazing.

    After I was mainstreamed, I had teachers that were not very good with regards to upholding my IEP, such as two discriminatory teachers in high school that the district defended. (Including the damaging of personal property)
     
  9. Special-t

    Special-t Enthusiast

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    Oct 2, 2010

    These teachers should not be yelling and threatening their students. I too, have subbed in these classrooms. In my experience, the yelling just adds to the chaos.

    My aide was upset with a student the other day (understandable so), but when she started to raise her voice, I tactfully intervened and took the problem off her hands. If I had joined in the yelling, it would have increased the stress and upset.

    A classroom of yelling and tantrums is a sign of a teacher who has lost control. I'm not saying that an occasional loud interjection is not effective. There have been times when a loud "hey" gets the attention of a student who is about to act out. But it's only effective if there is shock value. My students are in complete shock when I raise my voice - so it interrupts their behavior.

    I've actually had students tell me that I should yell to get their attention! They'll say "that's the way our other teachers do it". This is very sad to me.
     
  10. mom2mikey

    mom2mikey Cohort

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    Oct 3, 2010

    Its abusive and I don't agree with these kinds of approaches. All the same here are some of my thoughts about this whole topic.

    Here is the thing... if a teacher has to keep yelling over and over and over and over again to get the result then the method is not effective as it only helps in the here and now. Sure the student will do what is asked right after he is yelled at but chances are he will need to be yelled at again.

    Other methods will take much longer to get to the point of them truly working. For an intervention to really work you need to be able to fade that intervention over time so that the student actually takes control. If a teacher continues to have to be the one in control of it, we really haven't done the student any favors in the long run. But are our methods always about the student or are they sometimes about what will make life in our classroom easier?

    I think that perhaps our definitions of what "working" and "not working" are not always clearly defined. Are we talking about working for us? Working for the student? Working for the class as a whole? Are we talking about working right now? Working tomorrow? Working in a year? Are we talking about working in the classroom? Working at home? Working in the community at large? You get the picture....

    The other problem is that teachers generally only have to think in terms of one year so the time it would take to make other things truly work is not even worth their effort because they never get to the point of being able to see the benefits of their hard work/consistency. They look for the quick fix because they have the students for such a short amount of time :(.
     

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