Friday, January 30, 2015

Intentional Planning - Post 2 of 2

Last weeks post highlighted the importance of building relationships. Creating an environment focused on positive adult-child relationships will increase the success of distraction techniques and other classroom management or behavior strategies.  Now that relationships are established, you can try some of the following distraction, time, and Love and Logic techniques to support your efforts.  

Distraction Techniques  
  • What are you doing?  What should you be doing?
    • These two questions, asked in an empathetic way, is much better than yelling, “Stop, or else!”  It allows for reflection, empowering children to make a better choice, while maintaining a positive relationship built on trust.
  • Deflecting Blame away from teacher and place it on the schedule, timer, code of conduct, school expectations, etc.  
    • I’m sorry the schedule says….
      • we need to go to lunch
      • it is time for math
      • recess is over
    • Our school expectations state that we must be…
      • Respectful, Responsible, Safe, and Kindness Matters
    • The district Code of Conduct states...
      • you must wear appropriate attire that is suitable to learning without distractions.  
      • that consequences must be given for your actions
Consequences given with heightened emotions, will at times, increase the possibility for an insubordinate response from a child.  Deflecting Blame is a great way to focus on established classroom and school expectations, while taking emotions out of giving consequences.  
  • Sensory Redirection is great for children who are physically unable to interact or calm down.  The last thing we should do is fire off a bunch of emotional consequences that will result in further insubordination.  Try these sensory redirection strategies when a child is unable to calm down:
    • Touch your nose, pull on your left ear, take a deep breath, etc.  
    • Square or diamond breathing - Hold breath for 4 sec. - look up, left, right, down.
    • Popsicle - Freeze/squeeze all body muscles tightly then melt/wiggle all muscles.
    • Elevator - Squat down allow muscles to tense, shoot body up like an elevator to the top floor and hold on tiptoes. Next, drop to floor like elevator dropping to the 1st floor.
    • Blow out your candles - Hold up your age and blow on each extended finger that represents your age (works for children that are 10 and younger).
The goal is to calm a student down and get them back into “The Zone of Learning” so that further interventions can be successful.
  • Repetitive Instruction
    • When a child does not comply with a simple request, merely repeat the instructions in a calm voice 2-3 times.  
    • Use a calmer and quieter voice each time you repeat the direction.  Be aware of your tone and body language - make sure you are not nagging or sarcastic.  
    • Make sure you use child’s name when giving direction.
This technique can have a calming effect if delivered with an empathetic and soothing voice while using child’s name during the process.  
  • Errand Runner with and important message
    • If you notice a child needing a break, ask them to go into the hallway, and simply state the following;  “I really need you to do me a huge favor.  Please go to the office and deliver this envelope to the secretary, office clerk, or principal and stay there until they answer my note.  They will give it back to you.  When you return we are going to move on to a really important and fun learning activity that you won’t want to miss!” The note is usually a message that just states that the child needed a break.  This heightened level of responsibility might be all that is needed for the student to get back on track.  
    • The office will open the envelope and jot down a little note, back to the teacher, before sending the child back to class, but not before giving a little pep-talk and asking a couple of questions:
      • Are you having fun learning today?
      • Do you have anything exciting that might be happening when you go back to class?
      • You better get back so that you don’t miss any of the amazing learning that is going on in class.
      • Remember to be your best!  
It is vital that the office staff is aware of this strategy before trying it.  

  • Send for a drink!
    • Not for you… have a student get a drink of water.  
      • Keeping hydrated will support attention to learning.
      • The movement might be the needed distraction that will get your student back on a productive track.  

  • Secret Student Leaders
    • Pick one child as a “Secret Student Leader” when going somewhere or doing something within your classroom (transition, independent work, assembly, going to lunch, walking in hall, being a good friend, etc.). Pick one boy and one girl (pull names out of a hat), and don’t reveal the “Secret Student Leader” until you return back from your destination or the activity is finished.  This raises level of anticipation for students because they might be the secret person and it is fun!  If the “Secret Student Leader” was not quiet or inappropriate… simply state, “My Secret Leader did not meet the expectation of a Leader.” and put name back into the hat.  Do not tell who it is.  It helps students self-regulate and it is fun.  At another time, away from the class, talk to the misbehaving student to reinforce good behavior.  
Give Time

  • Count it Down to bring your class to attention. How do you bring everyone back to the group during group discussions?  Do you utilize a bell or timer?  Do you say “one, two, three... eyes on me” to regain attention?  Those examples may work; however, they do not necessarily give students a chance to finish their thoughts.  Try this strategy:  Simply, softly, and slowly count down from 10, 9, 8, 7… all the way to 0 to bring your class back together.  It is amazing how quickly your students will finish their thoughts with intentional focus back on the teacher or speaker.  This works during staff meetings or professional development as well.  

  • Time Bound Assignments are necessary for some students who are depending on a consistent schedule.  Giving a statement of clear assignment expectations will focus a child on the task given.  Many times children become distracted and inappropriate behaviors increase if they do not have clear expectations of the time necessary to complete a specific task.

  • Time out
What students need to know:
  • Need to know location
  • Need to know what specific behaviors will result in time out
  • Need to know the behaviors expected when in time out
  • Need to know how to get out of time out and reengage with class
Strategies for using time out:
  • Know and post rules
  • Always provide reminders
  • Place in time out without discussion – non-verbal/or whisper cue is best
  • Located away from stimulation
  • Re-establish relationship after time out

  • Use of timer
    • Keep class informed about their behavior by setting intervals for a timer to go off.  It can be 5 min, 10 min, 20min, etc.  Decide the interval then teach until it goes off.  Keep a tally throughout the day, tracking if the behavior is acceptable and appropriate for learning.  This will raise student level of awareness while supporting student self-regulation.  Additional idea: interventions are 30% more likely to be successful when students are graphing the information.

Favorite Love and Logic Strategies

  • Neutralizing Student Arguing - Adults must resist temptation to engage with a child who wants to argue, complain, or manipulate a situation to gain control.  Try not to think too deeply about what the arguing child is saying, and calmly repeat a Love and Logic “One-Liner.”  Simply and calmly say:
    • Thanks for letting me know.
    • I argue at 4pm daily.
    • I respect you too much to argue.
    • I’ll listen when your voice is calm.
    • Instead of saying “get to work” ask “how can I help?”
Children usually know right from wrong and lecturing tends to be received with resentment. These “One-Liners” put the focus back on the child and empowers them to think about their situation rather than the argument.  Just remember that this technique can backfire if the “One-Liners” are said with sarcasm, frustration, or anger.  

  • One Sentence Intervention - Relationships are the key to a successful intervention.  Identify 4-6 interesting  things about a student which have nothing to with pleasing adults, behaviors, school work, etc.  Use these qualities and state, “I’ve noticed that_____.  I noticed that.”  Make these statement for a period of about three weeks.  Kindly make this statement, with appropriate body language and tone, when the student is calm and allow the child to comment, listening to their strengths and interests.  After about three weeks, test the intervention.  Calmly ask: “Will you do this (or stop doing that) just for me?  Thank you.” Remember to stay calm, smile, and whisper then walk away.  This strategy only works when teacher-student relationships are established and maintained over time.  

  • Setting Limits with Enforceable Statements - Adults can easily give away all their power with one statement: “Stop that!” and a difficult student may respond with, “You can’t make me!”  Now the control is in the hands of the student.  To avoid getting into a trap, use Love and Logic “Enforceable Statements” rather than telling a child what to do, such as:  
    • Snack time is for children who wash their hands.
    • You may play with that toy as long as there is no hitting.
    • I allow student to remain with the group when they are not causing a problem.  
    • I take classes to recess when they can walk quietly in the hall.
    • I’ll listen when your voice is calm.
    • You may join the group when you are calm.  
    • You may participate as long as there is no name calling.

Making an “Enforceable Statement” allows teachers to give specific details regarding the expected behaviors while decreasing the chance for an insubordinate response.  As always, adults should be cognizant of body language and tone of voice with delivering “Enforceable Statements.”

I highly recommend Love and Logic strategies and professional development for parent and teachers. Check out the website - Love and Logic

Many times anger and frustration can fuel misbehavior.  The key it to keep strategies easy for teachers and parents, while empowering children to be in charge of making good decisions.  It is also extremely important to stay consistent in the delivery of strategies and expectations.  Don’t try every technique learned at once.  Pick one or two strategies that will support and build your repertoire of strategies.  If Tier 1 interventions do not work, then teachers and/or parents may want to consult with the building principal or Child Study Team to implement Tier 2 or 3 interventions while formalizing a Behavior Intervention Plan (We call them a Plan for Success) that is regularly reviewed with student, team, and parents.  

Always remember that all children need to feel LOVED, IMPORTANT, and SAFE!  This statement substantially increases in importance when a child is demonstrating feelings of anger or frustration, and our reactions are essential to enhancing success.  I hope you find this information helpful and supportive, or maybe just a reminder of techniques or strategies you’d like to get back to using.  

Thank for reading!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Intentional Planning - Post 1 of 2

Children, in general, will exhibit some type of minor or major behavior challenge during their childhood.  The key is to keep minor behaviors just that… minor.  As a teacher, administrator, and parent I have experienced a variety  of behavior challenges that can be supported with simple Tier 1 redirection and distraction techniques.  I know, hard to believe that my beautiful children could ever be a behavior problem.  
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When behaviors happen it is important that parents and teachers respond in an appropriate way, that focuses on changing the undesirable behavior, while being in control of our emotions and maintaining a compassionate relationship with our children and/or students.  Before implementing behavior strategies it is important to solidify positive relationships.  Check out a few of my favorite relationship building techniques below.  
Build Relationships
  • Unexpected Call Over - Call a child over when they least expect it and when they are not displaying any inappropriate behaviors, just to say hello or comment on something positive.  Building genuine relationships, built on trust and understanding, will increase the likelihood that your distraction techniques or simple requests will be followed by a misbehaving child. Relationships need more deposits and fewer withdrawals.
  • Active Listening - When we are busy it is easy to send students on their way with a quick response, knowing that you would give a better response if you had the time.  We do this as parents too, and the result can be unexpected behavior challenges.  Next time, try saying this,  “Your question/need/etc. is really important to me and you deserve more time than I can give right now.  Can you hold on for a few minutes/until lunch/until tomorrow/etc. and I will give you the attention you deserve?”  If you say this with empathy, the child will usually feel validated and will (most likely) wait for your attention.  Sometimes, it gives them time to problem solve on their own. Obviously, don't use this approach if there is an emergency or safety issues.
  • Positive Proximity – Greet your students each morning with a smile and a friendly hello.  Seems simple because it is!   It is also much better than asking, “Do you have your homework?”  Be present during independent work, supporting students and noticing their efforts throughout the day.  It is even ok to stop by the cafeteria (gym is where we eat lunch), or even shoot a basket or two during recess.  Positive proximity doesn't need to stop in the classroom.  The extra 2-3 minutes of positive proximity outside your classroom will enhance the community feeling that you are establishing in your classroom.

  • I Noticed Notes -  Simply place post-it notes on student’s desk when they least expect it!
    • I noticed you finished your project today… nice work with great detail!
    • I noticed you are being a good friend to Johnny… you are kind!
    • I noticed you helping Sally with her math at lunch… you are a good friend!
    • I noticed you put great voice into your writing today… nice focus on our target learning!
    • I noticed you being a good listener… you rock!
    • I noticed you filling Johnny’s bucket today… you are kind!  Side note:  Read to your class, Have you filled a bucket today? by Carol McCloud and illustrated by David Messing.  
    • I noticed you asking for help on your assignment… way to take charge of your learning!
    • I noticed you using "active listening" strategies with Sally during turn and talk… keep it up!

You get the idea!  I wouldn't walk around the room giving “I noticed” notes all day because it could decrease the value.  Use them sparingly, maybe 3-5 per day and keep track, making sure you are noticing everyone over time.  I love this strategy because it provides encouragement and accolades to support a positive relationship between you and your students.  It will also teach students to self-regulate their behaviors, assuming responsibility for academic and social learning.  Students will love it and so will you!  

Idea for parents:  Place “I noticed” notes in your child’s lunch or backpack.  They will love receiving notes, showing how much you care even when you are not around:
    • I noticed your effort on reading practice last night… I am proud of you!
    • I noticed you being kind to your sister… you are a good big brother!
    • I noticed you made your bed before school… you are a great helper!
    • I notice each and every day that I am lucky to have you as my son/daughter… I love you!!!!

Show your child how much you care when they least expect it!  I have seen parents do this at our school and it is so much fun for the students! They love receiving kind words and it always puts a smile on their face!  The best part, you are giving a reason for the compliment which builds self-concept.  It also teaches self-regulation, increasing the likelihood that positive behaviors will continue.
Creating an environment focused on positive adult-child relationships will increase the success of distraction techniques and other classroom management or behavior strategies.  Now that relationships are established, distractions techniques have a better chance of being successful. Next weeks post will highlight distraction techniques and other strategies to support learning. Remember to subscribe by e-mail to receive new posts as they are published. Thanks for reading!
Have a great week!  

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Kindness 2015

Monteith’s focus word for 2015:  KINDNESS

“A quality teacher-student relationship means more than the combined power of all teaching and discipline techniques known to humankind.”
Love and logic Teacher-ism

I love this quote!  Establishing positive relationships with your students and children, while creating an atmosphere where children have positive relationships with each other, will truly benefit any classroom, family, or community.  Quality parent-child, teacher-student, and student-student relationships will support and increase a positive community where children want to thrive.  It also makes everyone’s experience more enjoyable.   I am fortunate to work with a faculty that views positive relationships as the most important consideration within their classrooms, creating environments where students want to spend their days.

Throughout my experience, it seems that one word is the major force in establishing positive relationships: KINDNESS!  A kind, considerate, or helpful comment or act can brighten anyone’s day.  It solidifies positive relationships between individuals, increasing likelihood that future positive connections and interactions will take place.  Additionally, being kind to others just makes you feel good about yourself!

During the week of January 26th, our school is taking on The Great Kindness Challenge which is presented by Dignity Health. Our “Kids for Peace Experience” will be packed with activities to support and enhance kindness throughout Monteith.  Highlights of the week consist of the following:

  • Great Kindness Challenge Assembly
  • Morning Kindness Quotes
  • School-wide Kindness Bulletin Board
  • Kindness Spirit Days
  • School-wide song, “Reach Out” taught in music class
  • Lunch Recess Kindness Stations
  • Classroom Kindness Activities
  • Kindness Video
  • Kindness Challenge checklist for each child
  • And much, much more...

Parents can also join in on The Great Kindness Challenge by modeling and discussing acts of kindness with your children. Simply asking: “How did you fill someone’s bucket today?” or “How did you build up your character today by showing an act of kindness to someone at school?” will reinforce our school-wide initiative.  These simple questions make great dinnertime conversations that will encourage and sustain acts of kindness.  Reading 15 Ways to Start 2015, posted on December 22, 2014 by Kelsey Gryniewicz via The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation provides great suggestions for individuals and families to kick off The Great Kindness Challenge.  Check it out!

We ask you to kindly create positive relationships and connections with each other, by joining us during The Great Kindness Challenge (January 26-30), and incorporate acts of kindness during 2015 and beyond!

Feel free to share your special acts of kindness by making a comment.

Always Remember to Be Respectful, Responsible, Safe and that KINDNESS MATTERS!

Have a great week!