I am in need of advice.

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by Creativity, Aug 10, 2010.

  1. Creativity

    Creativity New Member

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    Aug 10, 2010

    I am a seasoned fifth-grade teacher in the Midwest who generally runs a tight ship in my classroom. I am in my eighth year of teaching, and I teach in a public, general education classroom. My students are enriched with great activities, and they are encouraged to learn about all kinds of topics. But this year, I have a few challenges I am facing.

    I am receiving a student who has been at our school since first grade, now in fifth, who exhibits major anger issues. He has shouted at his former teachers and his classmates have feared him. He shouted in his teacher's face last year on a number of occasions, from what I have gathered, and she did not do much. I try to not form opinions of students prior to having them, but I do not want to be blind-sighted, either, not knowing how to handle the situation well when it arises. Like any other teacher, I want to be prepared. His classmates will generally remain the same because we are a very small school with only a few classes per grade level, and a few I know are not looking forward to having him again in class. They've basically known him the entire time at the school.They talk about him because he has these sudden spats that throw everyone off. He has gotten physical, but not with the teacher. Apparently, he has thrown things, also.

    I need to know how to handle these situations in a calm, professional manner. I want to be firm. I want to handle any situation knowing it is not directed personally at me. Would you write a referral and send him to an in-school suspension of sorts? Would you contact his parents every time he has a spat? I am sure his parents have heard about this time and time again. I am also sure the counselors are well aware of what he has done, and they don't always have time to accommodate his needs.

    I heard he does all right with strategies to cool down, but I do not have much experience with them. What are some strategies? Or can you recommend a book that will help? I have read all kinds of books that have guided me in my professional journey, and I teach rules and procedures quite well, but I want to handle these situations as quietly as possible.

    I have had students similar to this, on a smaller scale, but apparently, this is on a different caliber. I would say handling students with these issues is by far my weakest area.

    Next, we must keep data binders, and I have been keeping them basically since I started teaching. What do you include in them? Our lead teacher/grade chair for the grade level will be checking to see we maintain them starting this year. Have you involved students in the data process? Has anyone here had students lead conferences?

    I saw there is a behavior management forum here, but I really need the assistance now. I need people to see this message. I hope this will be a very successful school year, but I very much need advice.
     
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  3. Lynnnn725

    Lynnnn725 Connoisseur

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    Aug 10, 2010

    I had a student like that once... however he was such a sweetie pie! He had his own box... I think we called it the "hot box" and whenever he felt anger, he'd grab something from his box - whether it be a slinky, a ball of play-doh, a sheet of paper where he wrote/drew about his feelings, etc.
    But I'm in a whole different world in 1st.
    I would definitely document his behaviors.
    Is the counselor an option? My lil sweetheart would also ask to go talk to the counselor whenever he felt an episode coming on.
     
  4. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    Aug 10, 2010

  5. Creativity

    Creativity New Member

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    Aug 10, 2010

    I know this boy is intelligent. He enjoys the science and math. I am also going to seek out his strengths because I want to really focus on them.

    I wonder if I can come up with something that has him calm down while the other students can still work. Apparently, his anger distracts them (some more than others) while they try to get things done. There is so much we have to focus on academically this year.

    The counselor is not always available. If she is at a meeting somewhere, which is often, I feel kind of like she is "out of reach". I know she is willing to help.

    I am just wondering, also, how will his middle school teachers handle this next year? He'll have seven or eight classes some days. The hardest thing I have heard is that his parents are not too responsive and his older sister, in 9th grade I believe, has a lot of the same issues.

    Also, thanks for the Responsive Classroom suggestion. I know about it a little, but I really need to read it. I am considering purchasing the book. If it will help me out, I am game.
     
  6. wendy 31

    wendy 31 Rookie

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    Aug 11, 2010

    Does your school have a classroom for disruptive students? Ours is called Skills. Students are sent if their behavior is distracting to the rest of the class. Before I send a student to Skills, I pull them away from the rest of the class. This works as a warning from me.

    You could work out a behavior plan with your student that would consist of behavior goals/classroom etiquette. The student and teacher together give a grade on the half hour for each goal: 2 = good behavior 1 = needed a reminder 0 = did not follow contract. Some students were sent to Skills as soon as they have a 0. (Each student's contract was individualized and parent permission had to be obtained.) Others take it as a warning and realize that their recess is at stake if they don't earn a 2 the next half hour. I tried not to have more than 4 goals.

    For each day or each period he could earn a sticker or a token that goes toward a reward. A rubric of what you both agree to allows him to be responsible for his own grade. By grading themselves (with your acceptance of the score) student are taking accountability for their behavior.

    I had a student that was notorious for bad behavior. Most days he could manage himself. But the last 40 minutes of school were hard for him. He would end up in skills usually from disrespectful language.
     
  7. Creativity

    Creativity New Member

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    Aug 15, 2010

    I am sorry for not responding earlier. All we have is a detention room for when students receive a formal discipline, but at times we cannot send students there without that and need administrative approval. I like the idea of the behavior plan along with the student grading himself, but the sticker or token may not work.

    Which grade do you teach?
    What do you believe fifth graders respond to most? I have taught a while, but I enjoy hearing from others.
     
  8. chicagoturtle

    chicagoturtle Fanatic

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    Aug 15, 2010

    Maybe Ross Greene's "The Explosive Child" will be of assistance? I think he has a new book out this year too.
     
  9. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    Aug 16, 2010

    ^I second Ross Greene. His new book, "Lost in School," is great as well. It really helped me be more sensitive to the kids who lack the social-emotional skills to deal with things appropriately.
     
  10. teacher12345

    teacher12345 Cohort

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    Aug 16, 2010

    Can you work on him asking for a break? Even if it means handing you a notecard that says I need a break, is there an area in your room that he could go to to calm down? like maybe a bean bag chair, and headphones for him to listen to calming music, and a stress ball, and then maybe set a timer or teach him to set the timer for an agreed amount of time and when the timer goes off he has three choices, take two more minutes, join the class again, or do his work in the break area for two minutes.

    would something like this work:

    http://www.speakingofspeech.com/uploads/calmdown.pdf
    http://www.mslbd.org/teacher_resources/Break or calm down sheet.pdf

    http://www.mslbd.org/teacher_resources/Visual Think Sheet.pdf

    http://kansasasd.com/upload/Positive vs Negative Thought.pdf


    Also check out the books, A five will make me loose control, The five point scale, and a five is against the law.
     
  11. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    Aug 16, 2010

    You have received lots of good advice about trying to redirect his behavior and providing outlets for his frustration. I teach children like that in my SPED classroom and the first thing I usually do is to try to determine what triggers the anger and then work to diffuse it. Like others have said, I offer "a way out'. If they feel they are losing control, they are allowed to go back to their seat, or to a safe place and chill out. I also try to spend daily time calmly talking to the student one to one to establish a relationship. (I have an assistant, so some things may not work for you). Many times if the student recognizes that I truly care for him/her, it seems to lessen the frustration. Please right if you come up with specific classroom situations and I'll try to tell you what I do for each one.

    As far as data notebooks, we have to keep them, also. In the beginning of the year, I keep the pretests for all our subjects. We are usually given copies of lasts year's standardized test results. During the year we give reading and math assessments and practice state assessments. I keep those in there. When I give chapter of unit exams, the results go in there. Basically, the data notebook shows what I am doing to increase learning gains in my class and how each individual child is performing. Hope that helps a little.
     
  12. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Aug 16, 2010

    I also agree with the area either in the classroom or in a community area right outside the classroom. Having a card for him to show you when he needs a "cool off" time is great! That puts some of the effort on him to recognize the behavior. If he chooses not to use the card, you need to have a phrase to say to him each time. "I see you are beginning to get frustrated, do you need to take a few minutes to cool off-" or something along those lines. Keep it consistent. Then, if he continues to choose not to, try the detention room. Keep this as a last resort, because it may have lost or will lose its value.

    The half hour rating idea is great too. But for fifth grade, maybe try it by subject...Make sure you inform the specials teachers on your plan and the social worker! Maybe at the end of the day, if he has so many 2s, he can earn something (time with the principal, an assistant, free reading time, computer time, a prize...whichever he wants).

    I would also try to have the social worker try to talk with the rest of your students about what they can do (ignore, move away, give you a signal, etc). They need to feel safe as well, especially if they have been hurt aleady.
     
  13. massteacher

    massteacher Companion

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    Aug 16, 2010

    I agree with the posts above...check out Ross Greene's website: http://www.livesinthebalance.org/

    He has a plan called Collaborative Problem Solving..also known as Plan B (which is working with the child), and not imposing adult will. "Explosive" Kids, usually explode when this is happened...so it's a different type of way to make a plan with the child.

    The website is great. It has lots of information, and videos to see how the conversations actually are run and the language that is used.

    I used Ross Greene's CPS alongside with Positive Discipline while I directed a 21st CCLC Enrichment After School Program....we targeted at-risk kids,..so I had many students who were in the behavior program upstairs with a 1:1 para all day, who came to my program and had no 1:1 para. It really worked very well, as you build a relationship with the child and target the social/emotional skills that the child is lacking..and help the child learn those which will in turn reduce "explosive" episodes.

    His two books are: Explosive Child and Lost at School..I would check out Lost at School first because it deals specifically with school-day issues.

    I also agree with the "Take a Break" spot, with calming items. I also like the "Hot Box" idea from the 1st grader.
     
  14. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Aug 16, 2010

    As far as data binders-I keep a copy for assessments from last year and my reading, writing, and math assessments and screeners from this year each time I give them. For this difficult student, you may want a behavior section to keep his daily sheets with his/your rating of his behavior.

    I also do student lead conferences. For this, I do share some assessment data with the students and set goals on what they should be working toward next time they take the assessment (usually in the spring). Then the students choose 1 or 2 artifacts for each subject that they share. We also use a script for the students to read off of for their conference.
     
  15. cheer

    cheer Comrade

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    Aug 16, 2010

    Where are the parents in all of this? DO you know if they actively help the teacher when there is an issue? I had a student last year who was an amazing young man (1st grader) who had MASSIVE "anger fits" . He was medicated for these anger issues. The medication just took the edge off so we still had outbursts. The students were afraid of him all the time. I had a parent log I wrote in to let the parents know how his day. We also had a behavior chart which we set up together. His reward was to pick an activity (off a "menu" of choices" which we made up with his family) to do at the end of the day or at home. *We did have to keep the behavior chart out of reach because when he had an outburst he would scream "I dont care" and tear up the chart. We also found that if you could see him start to get upset, you could redirect him. He was also allowed time away to get a drink or take a walk. He had to take a color card with him to let the office and others know that he was taking a time out and he was not in trouble or goofing off. Our building was small so he could do this and still be seen by an adult. Well good luck and remember you will have rough days but you can handle it!!
     
  16. sue35

    sue35 Habitué

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    Aug 18, 2010

    I have an Explosive Child this year and was just given the Greene book of the same name. One interesting is that most of the time reward systems do not work. He views the problem as a skill problem, not a behavior one. These kids literally do not know how to react. I would suggest googling "Explosive Child" and research it.
     
  17. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Aug 18, 2010

    I agree with Sue. Kids have to be taught why and how to deal with their environment. Not necessarily just what the the rules are but strategies and ways to cope. Knowing what their triggers are and how they respond to different things is also important. If this child has truly had this problem for this long, you are going to have to approach it from a special needs perspective and find what works for him individually.

    Okay, I decided to say something after all...

    As far as the parents go... I just want to point as (as a parent of an ED child), just because the parent doesn't seem as involved, doesn't mean they don't care. After a while there is a burn out point of hearing the same negative stuff over and over and over especially because we are essentially helpless with how things are structured and dealt with at school. Your best defense is to send as many positive things early and often and throughout the year so the parent knows you truly care. You also will need to tell the parent how you are helping their little Johnny and what YOU are doing to help the situation. It has to come from a place that shows that you are considering him as an individual and not just enacting some system or some consequences, etc. You will also need to show when Johnny is making improvements and what you believe helped him get there. Approach it from the helpful point and you will get better results. I had an immediate friend the moment I heard my son's new school tell the county that the old IEP seemed to be written a little differently than she would like. She said it shouldn't just list the outcomes the child needs to have but what the team would do to help the child get there. OMG. I immediately loved the new school just from that one statement. That's how you get support. Also keep in mind that often parents have had to take so much time off work to deal with these things much more so than the average child (same with other special needs) that over time it looks bad to the employer and sometimes the employers say enough is enough or the parent feels that pressure. That's what happened with my husband and then with me. So there are a lot of reasons that parents don't seem as involved. My child is only in the 2nd grade this year! It's already at that point for us.

    My child's teacher just had him do a Y/N for every 15 min of the day. He gets earn breaks throughout the day based on this. There are other systems in place including social workers, counseling, resource room, etc. That report has nothing on it except y/n. I could see if there were parts of the day he did great and parts of the day he had meltdowns and for how long. I didn't need a lot of details and frankly I didn't want them. If it was bad, then the licensed therapist emailed me with the details. Otherwise, I just got general comments at the end of the week. Their philosophy was that when he gets home, he needs a break from school and he needs to focus on family. That was such a welcome thing for us because the other two schools called us almost every day with a bad report. Sometimes it was stuff that could have been easily circumvented. Sometimes it was stuff that wasn't as big of a deal as other stuff. All the negativity wore on us. Even when they had positive things to say, there weren't enough of those to outweigh it. So we would spend our evenings ruined because we would have to deal with whatever happened in school that day.
     
  18. cheer

    cheer Comrade

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    Aug 18, 2010

     
  19. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Aug 18, 2010

    It wasn't directed at you. It was a general reminder not to judge parents in general. All parents have different needs and we can't judge whether they care or not based on the way they interact with the school. (There is a long history behind that comment both personally and professionally). But it is important to meet the parents where they are and work from there.

    For me, I quit wanting to know absolutely everything right about the time when I had to constantly take off my first year of teaching because my child's school didn't have the resources to handle him. I quit wanting to know it all when some of the stuff they did showed they didn't know how to deal with it and I was powerless to do anything. (Though to their credit the second school did a wonderful job of documenting so we could get into the 3rd school where he excelled). I quit wanting to know the day I had to put my 6 year old in a psychiatric hospital to speed up his ability to get the right services and in the right program and was devastated because I wasn't sure if he would be home for Christmas. Yeah... a long history here. It's hard to have an explosive child. I can't hold the teacher's hands and make sure everything goes okay for the both of them and for the class. I can only deal with the aftermath. Thank goodness for his new school because I almost quit my job over all this.

    (This is why I deleted my first post. It gets too personal for me. Sorry.)
     
  20. Bumble

    Bumble Groupie

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    Aug 18, 2010

    I have a few students who are high strung to say the least. I find that I need to choose my words wisely when speaking to them. I always have to use positive words. My students need extreme structure. No downtime and on a daily behavior report. They are awesome students who came a long way. Also, when I told these students I had ADHD and learning difficulties they opened up to me. Just try to relate to them. You must be structured!
     
  21. teacher333

    teacher333 Devotee

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    Aug 18, 2010

    Does this student fall under the care of the special services department? I would elicit their help in the form of a behavior plan, one which is very detailed, one that is not only explained to the child but to his parents together so they know what will be accepted and not accepted. First, though, I would give this child a chance to settle into your room. Sometimes different personalities work better with some students than others, and if your routine and your dealing with him is different, it might be a good fit. Are there any students in the past who have proven to be "triggers" for him? If so, can they be exchanged with students from another room?
     
  22. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Aug 18, 2010

    One thing to remember: when you call or write to the parent, always ALWAYS start with something positive (at least in the beginning). No matter how bad his day has been or how bad his week has been, there is something good you can say. This way you are building that relationship.
     
  23. Irissa

    Irissa Cohort

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    Aug 18, 2010

    I use to send my angry child outside to kick cones. We had a bunch of cones around the portable. So I'd send him out for 1 min and he could let his frustration out without throwing chairs. Try to find a way to help him redirect his anger. Even if that's to walk in the bathroom and throw a soft ball of some sort against the wall.
     
  24. Creativity

    Creativity New Member

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    Aug 19, 2010

    I really appreciate this advice. Thank you for the practical tips. I am definitely giving the parents a chance. The family has a lot of similarities, but I am going to really try the best I possibly can. Additionally, I know to focus on the positives. I am going to use the cue with the "I need a break" card and designate a place.
     

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