student who refuses to try...

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by peachacid, Nov 10, 2010.

  1. peachacid

    peachacid Companion

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    Nov 10, 2010

    Hey, all. I am currently working with a first grader who shuts down completely when a task becomes remotely challenging. He cries, puts his head down, gets angry...just shuts down.

    I was given the advice to allow him to cry, work with someone else, and let him get over it...but I only see a few students, and I want to show him that I care enough to give him the time.

    Does anyone have any advice? Any ideas of what might help? He thinks he deserves a prize for just coming to see me (I am a reading specialist by the way), not for doing excellent work. I have only given prizes (a pencil or a sticker) on days when his behavior has been excellent...
     
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  3. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Nov 10, 2010

    Does he have a diagnosis?

    Make sure he understands that the prizes are given because he was great that day, not just because he came.

    Perhaps give him some small goals to start with first (i.e. do the work for 10 minutes, then he gets to take a break)
     
  4. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    Nov 10, 2010

    He may be using crying to get rid of you - control the agenda. Consider staying with him (not moving) signaling with your body (don't say anything) you have all day to wait. He will likely up the anti with more tantrum stuff so hang in there with a bored look. Move closer to signal you are controlling the agenda. When he finally gives up - tactic isn't working - give a simple verbal prompt like "The next thing to do is ___. "
    Stay down and watch him work. Once he is committed say "Thanks for getting back to work" and watch some more. If still working move to next student.
     
  5. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    Nov 12, 2010

    Since he thinks he should be rewarded for coming to see you, can you go see him in his classroom and perhaps work with him there? You may also want to stop in to the classroom and observe how he works, what his teacher does, etc.

    Do his parents know that he does that? You might want to have him bring home any work he doesn't finish.
     
  6. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

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    Nov 12, 2010

    We are working with an autism specialist who is also speaking to some of us with behavior issues, that aren't strictly autism related. I have a child who does the same. She goes into melt downs (she hit and kicked teachers last year). He gave the advice of giving her time to calm down. He suggested I create a "safe zone" for her. A place where she can go and get away from everyone's line of vision. I'm working on that in a small room. The next step is to work with her on knowing when she needs to use it. It's hard. I feel like I'm constantly walking on egg shells with her, and that there's often a landmine under the egg shell.
     
  7. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Nov 13, 2010

    My youngest son used to do this in pre-K and Kinder. It began to taper off 1st grade. His older brother (my middle son) still has a tendency to do this (somewhat) when he feels overwhelmed by an assignment or a large amount of homework. Both boys are ADHD, which plays a part in their reaction.

    To understand WHY the boy reacts this way, you have to understand the situation from his perspective. It seems (to him) that he is being given TOO much to do and not enough time to do it (any teachers ever feel like that in their job?). He also feels like he has no control at all over the situation, so he goes into "shutdown mode" and refuses to do anything.

    My middle son was especially challenging in this respect when he was younger. He would often refuse to follow a request or demand unless HE felt he had at least SOME control over the situation; he often would not get into bed until I let him go "find" a favorite animal or toy to sleep with. DEMANDING that he get in bed RIGHT NOW (since it was already past his bedtime) only led to resistance and a struggle that lasted longer than simply allowing him to go find the necessary item.

    Think about how the world looks to a first-grader; his day is filled with LARGE adults that have complete control over his daily activities. The ONLY way for him to get ANY control is to shutdown and refuse to participate. Even though he knows this means a discipline action, it is worth the punishment to him to get SOME control over the situation.

    When my youngest son would go into meltdown mode (screaming and crying and refusing to do ANYTHING), I would let him go into a room by himself and give him 5-10 minutes to calm down. After that, I would bring him back to the homework and suggest we just focus on the first part of the assignment, then take a short break. Breaking the homework down into smaller sections made the task more manageable and less overwhelming to him. I would often want to pull my hair out and point out it he was actually spending more time complaining about the HW than it would take to just DO the HW in the first place, but ADHD kids just don't see it that way and can't really understand that perspective. To them, the task seems ENORMOUS and they become overwhelmed. Allowing them to have just a little control over the situation makes it much less frustrating for them.

    How many times do we, as teachers, also feel overwhelmed with ALL the tasks we have to do; planning lessons that meet strict guidelines, keeping students actively engaged while learning, addressing complaints from parents that Darling Angel is failing because we aren't doing our job, etc.? Add to that all the committee meetings, workshops, sub plans, "volunteering" (at the request of admin) for extra-curricular duties and increasing demands and expectations to meet ALL these obligations while STILL ensuring we provide differentiated lessons to Darling Angel that meets his/her learning needs (despite the fact that D.A. would rather just stare out the window than actually LISTEN to us during guided instruction). How many times have we often felt like it was just TOO much and wanted to throw up our hands in exasperation?

    As adults, we've learned that we HAVE to work through seemingly overwhelming demands, no matter how ridiculous some of those demands might be, but children haven't developed that maturity yet - especially in early elementary years. How many teachers have gone home in tears after an especially frustrating day? It is easy to understand why a child would react the same way in a situation they feel is beyond their control.

    Finally, giving the child options that provide him/her just a little control does not reduce our own control and authority in the situation. Isn't it much easier to meet the seemingly overwhelming demand from admin sometimes if you are given just 1 or 2 choices in the way those demands have to be met? The admin is still very much in control of the overall situation, but providing some control to us makes the situation seem less crushing. The same is often true for the kids that go into "shutdown mode" when they feel overwhelmed.
     
  8. peachacid

    peachacid Companion

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    Nov 17, 2010

    Thank you. The whole control issue seems to be at the forefront for this particular child. I am worried, though, that he gets complete control at home -- and so thinks he deserves to be in charge 100% of the time at school.

    I will post an update in a few weeks!
     

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