Very Emotional Student

Discussion in 'Behavior Management' started by ssmeow, Oct 3, 2015.

  1. ssmeow

    ssmeow Rookie

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    Oct 3, 2015

    Hello,

    I am doing some "pre-student teaching" hours in a 4th grade classroom.

    I am looking for advice / opinions on how to help a student who has a hard time expressing himself and is very quick to become mad and cry. This student does receive pull-out services for a learning disability as well as socio-emotional education.

    I am mostly wondering what you would do / have done in a similar situation, because I would probably be overstepping my bounds if I actually tried any real intervention with this student.

    I have spoken with my CT about this student and she is really trying her hardest to help him by having him do breathing exercises and taking time-outs. This has only been minimally effective. Soon after he calms down, if he calms down at all, something will upset him and he will start crying or exhibiting disruptive behavior again.

    The other day I was working with him one-on-one to help him write a summary on a book we read. He became very upset when I explained to him that he could not put "facts" that he knew on his own, because the facts needed to come from the text.

    I was helping him find facts from the text and he kept insisting on using his own "facts". He understood what I was saying, but was being very stubborn. I did not get upset with him, I was telling him very matter of fact what needed to be done. He continued to repeat himself on what he wanted to write, and began to cry and grunt in anger.

    I am not used to seeing a child, especially an older child, exhibit this type of behavior. I did not know what to do, I tried to distract him by continuing on, but it did not work.

    Would you have "given in" to him and let him write what he wanted?

    My CT ended up taking him aside to have him calm down, and so he never actually did his assignment.

    I really appreciate any insight anyone has on this type of student / situation.

    Thank you.
     
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  3. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    Oct 3, 2015

    It sounds like you are off to a great start in teaching! You are showing concern and compassion for your students, and that's the primary focus for any teacher.

    There are a multitude of causes for such behavior in students, (and the CT would have more background information on the student than I would have from just reading the above description). Some causes are emotional, but some cause can also be physical. I never view such behavior as a disability; such behaviors are differences in ability. We all have our quirks, but for some students, certain behaviors are more noticeable or more disruptive.

    Just from what I've read, I personally would doubt if this student was being stubborn during the lesson. He had a reason for his answers to the assignment, even though they weren't matching the expected outcome.

    You handled the one-one situation so effectively! I've seen many teachers lose patience in such a situation. I also noticed that you modeled how to do the assignment, a very, very effective teaching technique. It seems as if you were also observing cues that showed he was understanding what you were teaching.

    An especially effective way of responding to any student's answers is to provide feedback on what is correct about the answer or what is important in the student's way of thinking about the answer, and then discuss ways in which the answer can be modified. Think of it this way, if you are in your dorm, and have a great idea, and your friend says, "No, that's wrong," how would you feel? If your friend comments on what is good about your idea, and then adds suggestions to make the idea better, or make it work, or even suggests another alternative idea, that would probably make the conversation more appreciated. Young students are the same way.

    The CT is right on target with the breathing exercises and the time out! (I'm assuming the time out is non-punitive). In most cases during such misbehavior, the student is reacting automatically to his/her lower brain. If you place your hand on the bridge of your nose, below your hand are the parts of the brain that respond automatically to environmental stimulus. The educational need of such a student is to learn to control the lower brain with the upper brain. The time out provides just what it says--time for the upper brain to gain some mastery over the situation. The breathing physically assists, but it also provides a stimulus for the desired response, similar to Pavlov's famous experiment with his dogs. (I know of a pastor who gets really nervous before preaching, so just before he gets up to speak, he rubs his hand, breathes deeply, and relaxes. The rubbing of his hand is a stimulus that automatically calms him down).

    What I would recommend avoiding is trying to scold such a student during a crying fit. His/her upper brain is not ready to receive the discipline, the scolding will just be extra stimulus causing more crying, and if a teacher loses patience with such a student, then the classroom has 2 people out of control instead of just one. I also would not recommend giving in to such a student; a student can quickly learn to misuse this behavior to achieve a desired response from a teacher. That's the tricky part--you'll eventually get a feel for how to still be consistent and firm, yet meet each student's individual needs.

    Again, I am impressed and excited that a college student with such potential as yours is almost ready to enter the teaching field. I foresee that you will become quite an effective and appreciated teacher!
     
  4. ssmeow

    ssmeow Rookie

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    Oct 3, 2015

    Obadiah,

    Thank you very much for your advice and feedback.

    I do really care about this student, and all of the students for that matter.

    This student does seem to react very strongly when he feels as though he is being punished or scolded.

    Also, something else about him is that this is his first year at this school. His mother said he had a one-on-one aid at his last school, but that was not written into his IEP so he just receives the pull-out services. I know these adjustments are challenging.

    I hope that I can learn a lot from working with this student, and seeing him interact with the CT and special education teacher. I also want to do whatever I can to help him while I am there.

    I just hate to see a child feeling such strong negative emotions, especially since it is interrupting his learning.
     
  5. GemStone

    GemStone Habitué

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    Oct 3, 2015

    You'll see this time and again in your career. Unfortunately, simple statistics guarantee that. Children with emotional disturbances make up a certain percentage of the population, and that will be reflected in your student body. You'll find that they need more help than we can provide. Yes, their learning and that of others will be interrupted.
     
  6. manda80411

    manda80411 Rookie

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    Oct 14, 2015

    I have a high school student who uses tears to get out of something. You can ask said student to get a piece of paper and she would cry. It became so bad that I had had enough and told her that she could turn those tears on like I turn on the lights. I told her I was done with the tears and used the story of the little boy who cried wolf. I have not seen the tears in weeks. I have also been around this student for a year and finally figured out the tears. Knowing your students is so important and it took me a year to finally figure this student out.
     

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