Help for Billy: a beyond consequences approach to helping challenging children in the classroom
By: Forbes, Heather T.
Beyond Consequences Institute
Help for Billy: a beyond consequences approach to helping challenging children in the classroom
By: Forbes, Heather T.
Beyond Consequences Institute
that jarring, upsetting realization that your students deserve a better teacher than you.
This is so accurate. At school, we literally have children who will watch our facial expressions to see if them falling is as bad as they think it might be.
CORRECT CHILD INJURY PROCEDURE:
- do not react. at the most, maybe wince and go “ooooh”
- go over to the child to assess panic level and severity of injury
- if they’re like, dying, remain calm, but they’re probably not.
- look them in the eye and ask, “you okay?” they will nod. possibly all teary-eyed. then ask, “are we gonna need to cut it off?”
- the child is thrown off. if they giggle, you’re in the money. if they do not, put a bandaid on and do some sympathetic patting. they are probably a little teary. let the sad little bug sit out for a minute. they will quickly get bored.
- works every time
"sad little bug" is the cutest and most accurate term ive heard used to describe a child because sometimes bugs are kinda super cute sometimes bugs are really fucking annoying and sometimes bugs are downright TERRIFYING
Okay, this was easily one of my favorite panels! It was led by a recently graduated high school English sub and her sister (who I believe is theyareafterusjim on here) and was heavy on discussion and I’m an education nerd so I loved it a lot and it made me want to teach again (because, really, what doesn’t?)
So they started off with the disclaimer that they were familiar with the US school system, particularly high school, so that’s what most of the focus was on. There were lots of teachers in the audience, which was happymaking.
Structured was definied as being formal education in a classroom setting, and Organic was just…not that.
We see lots of formal education in Harry Potter, such as McGonagall, Flitwick, and Sprout as positive examples. The students have somewhat of a flipped classroom, with lots of time for the students to learn through experimentation, with immediate feedback, supervision, and interactive learning activities.
They do learn in Snape’s room, but he’s a bully, which hinders learning. Ron, for instance, improves significantly under Slughorn’s instruction.
The DA and Occlumency were examples of more organic learning. The DA was a group that arose organically, but it did have some structure to it also. Occlumency could have been more organic and the need for it came about organically, however, the way it was taught made it structured, while still being a one-on-one individualized experience. Occlumency was mandatory, and Harry had no idea why he was there with no internal motivation, which combined made for a highly ineffective learning environment.
Umbridge, of course, was ineffective as heck for all of the reasons, not the least being her abusive behaviors. Her failure at teaching was the reason the DA did come into being organically.
Hermione is the posterchild for organic learning for the sake of learning, always in the library researching for her own interest.
The electives that started in their third year at Hogwarts offered a great balance of structure and choice.
Examples of organic learning in each book:
Tumblr & Fandom
There is a lot of anti-school sentiment on Tumblr, but at the same time, there are so many posts here that are internally movitated, researched text posts aimed at educating others.
Tumblr is internally motivated. You are using research skills and other structures to promote your organic learning.
You are not born knowing how to analyze media.
There’s a limited amount of time we have at school, which leads to constraints on what can be covered in a classroom setting.
School exists to socially prepare us. Fandom, meanwhile, gives us Q&A touchstones (favorite book, hogwarts house, etc) giving us a framework to talk to other people within our fandom, common ground.
Fandom, in a nutshell, is people like us who sit around overthinking media. It is internally motivated. We find people who are like us. We learn to read, cite, and analyze.
What’s a good way of translating a top down structure in the classroom?
"Backward design", a goal that teachers design on, making students explicitly aware of their learning goal.
A little bit of discussion about independent study, being able to focus on what you care about in a more organic, but still supervised, way.
Someone talked about the feeling of feeling forced to be in school. Now that they are out of school, they know what they want to learn.
But our learning system is very structured, leaving little room for that kind of exploration. There are basics we feel we need to cover, which limits freedom in learning early on. As teachers, we are told what we must teach.
What we need is teachers who are very passionate about their subjects.
Question about unschooling and what the panelists/audience thought of that particular philosophy.
Noted that criticisms around unschooling tend to just revolve around the fact that it’s new and a lot of people aren’t used to new ideas, so they’ll criticize what they don’t know. Also, there do exist kids who need that extra push, that structure that school provides, who aren’t self-motivated enough to succeed in an unschooling environment. Also, some kids don’t have the access to those kinds of resources. The panelist who was a teacher was very passionate about that point, and her desire to see student-centric learning and passion in the public school environment. (I totally agreed! Like, I wish everyone could have their own private instruction based on their needs and their interests, but that’s not practically possible, so we have to do what we can to change the system from within and hire those passionate teachers who recognize what makes each student motivated and pursue it!
Someone also mentioned Montessori and Waldorf educations as philosophies that tend to be more child-centric.
Talked a little bit about interdisciplinary teaching, teaching multiple subjects that interrelate so students can see how things are connected, rather than having walls up between them. It’s not Math|Science|History|English, it’s math&science&history&english and how they function together to make the world work.
Again, interdisciplinary teaching is something individual teachers can do, but the system is screwy. We are beginning to see some changes depending on the school, but it’s still a work in progress.
Someone asked about charter schools, but they seemed to have a totally different idea about what charter schools were. The presenters were quick to say, no, charter schooling is usually very similar to public schooling, with a different source of funding and often contributing to inequity in schooling.
Question about pubshing too hard in schools, too much pressure. Teachers who can kill your passions. Wasn’t much of an answer to that question, because we’ve all encountered those teachers, they’re a sad reality, but it’s another example of something that’s highly situational.
sentence frames to help my kiddos ask for what they need this year. 😊
#education, who’s going to LeakyCon/do any of you want to meet up?
I’ll be around most afternoons, or alternatively, we could all go to the Types of Learning panel on Saturday, August 2nd at 3pm. What are your schedules looking like?
I just got back from coffee with a friend-of-a-friend who is going into elementary teaching. She asked me how I deal with run-of-the-mill defiance: most kids aren’t completely out of control, but many students do talk back from time to time or respond with stubbornness. She told me that most teachers she has observed either yell or threaten the student into compliance, but that she didn’t want to be “that” teacher. I pride myself in never yelling at children and generally having strong classroom management, so I was happy to give her advice.
Obviously situations really vary, but here are my go-to strategies:
1) "Narrate" Behavior: Rather than becoming upset, I try to remain calm and not get pulled into an argument with a child. I really like using the sentence frame “I notice that you _________.” For example, I might tell a student, “I notice that you are frustrated with your writing.” I’ll follow that with a question or instruction, ie “Can you tell me why you are feeling upset?” or “I want you to take a deep breath and write two sentences.” Often by remaining calm, I’m able to deflate the situation.
2) Give Students Choices: Defiant students normally don’t want to feel like they’re being told what to do. To “preserve” their sense of control, I’ll often give them two options, ie “I notice you are feeling upset. You can walk to the fountain and get a drink of water or put your head down and count to ten. Which choice will you make?” I’ll get down to their level and hold up two fingers. When the student makes a choice (normally exactly what I would have insisted that they do), I make sure to compliment them on making good choices.
3) Counting Down: For some reason, I’ve found that children are much more likely to follow instructions if you give them a little time to do it. For example, if a student doesn’t want to write, I’ll tell them “You have 20 seconds to start your writing. By the time I get to 1, I expect to see your pencil moving. 20, 19…” This seems to give them time to collect their thoughts.
4) Repetition: If I give a student an instruction (ie “You will go take a break at your desk”) and they talk back (“But Juan did it!”) I’ll just repeat my instruction in a calm, even voice.
5) Step Away: Sometimes, more “reasonable” techniques don’t work. However, I NEVER, EVER get into a verbal argument with a student. If I feel like I cannot reasonably solve the disagreement, I need to be the “adult” in the situation. I tell the student, “I am feeling (frustrated). We will discuss this in five minutes” and walk away and collect my thoughts. Just like in disagreements between adults, sometimes both the teacher and the student need time to collect their thoughts. Some teachers feel that stepping away lets the student “win.” Rather, I think it helps the teacher preserve their dignity and respect.
I hope other teachers or teachers-in-training find this helpful! I love to hear about how other teachers manage their classrooms.
Today, I was on my third interview panel in the last week, so I thought I’d give some advice. It’s weird being on a panel, though it’s not stressful like interviewing is, I realize. It’s weird to think that you can learn so much about a person in 30 minutes.
Here’s what I’ve noticed this week:
- Smile. Convey your enthusiasm and personality. It goes a long way. Even if you don’t think you’re naturally enthusiastic, if you talk about what you love (teaching) and allow yourself to be authentically you, it will show.
- Eye contact and hand gestures are important, especially when your hand gestures are awkward and distracting.
- Bring a binder of materials, and use them to answer questions when appropriate. This isn’t a must (we hired someone who just came in with her keys and phone this week because she’s fantastic), but I do recommend it. It’ll give you a place to put your hands and you will be prepared.
- Answer questions specifically. Give examples. Show samples. If you don’t remember part of the question, ask them to repeat it. Providing specifics shows confidence and experience, whereas vague answers make you hard to remember.
- Don’t assume anything about the school or the panel. We may not get your sense of humor just yet. I am not as young as you seem to think I am.
- It’s true what they say about phone interviews - we can hear you smiling! Let that personality shine even if you’re on the phone.
- We do read your cover letters. We read your rec letters. We notice when there’s fluff and spelling errors, and we notice when rec letters are short and vague. So, ask for the letters well in advance so that the person can do a good job and represent you well.
- References can make or break you. A good interview with mediocre references isn’t going to cut it. Choose your references wisely.
- Ask good questions! When I interviewed for my first job I had no questions because I had no idea what I wanted in a school. Now that I’m at a school I love, I can’t imagine going somewhere else without knowing answers to some key questions. Here are some question ideas for you new teachers:
- What type of support do new teachers get at your school?
- What type of professional development is planned for this year?
- Do teachers have time built into the week for collaboration? If so, what is the department you’re applying to working on?
- What is the class size max?
- What type of technology is available in most classrooms?
- What is the daily schedule like?
Here are more questions that I personally would ask if I were interviewing for a job tomorrow:
- Do the district and teachers union get along? How do negotiations usually go?
- How are campus-wide decisions usually made?
- What is the role of the department chair?
- Describe your last accreditation process. What are the goals the school is currently working on?
- How is the school supporting its struggling populations?
- Are AP classes open enrollment?
- Is there a strict curriculum map/pacing guide or are teachers free to teach how and what they want? Are there common assessments or district benchmarks? If so, how many?
Write down the questions you want to ask and bring them with you. You will forget them otherwise.
Lastly, don’t get discouraged. If you don’t get the job, it might be a good thing. I’ve seen many teachers deflated by schools that just weren’t the right for for them. I am seeing it happen at my school. I’ve also seen teachers hang on during difficult years because the school is a great fit and they feel supported. This is happening at my school as well. I was turned down for three or four jobs before I got my first one, and it was miserable. But I’m happy where I am now. I’m not a “everything happens for a reason” believer, but I do believe in making the best of what happens.
rorysacks said: teaching didn't work out for you either huh? what is it that you want to try your hand in?
Hey, sorry for the super late response. I am so bad at maintaining this blog and answering questions, it’s a miracle I’m even responding at all (…three months late whoooooops)
I’m still really stubbornly set on finding an alternative route to getting certified, even though they all cost money I don’t have. My alternate alternate idea is to work in libraries, get my MLIS, and either be a youth services librarian or a school librarian. I know there aren’t many job opportunities in that field either, though, so. *shrugs*
Right now, I’m focusing on getting through my part-time library job on a day by day basis and maybe save enough to eat per week? Life’s kind of a mess, but I still want to work with kids.
I’m glad I’m not the only one out there who didn’t have teaching work out, though. It feels like I am, in the #education community, at least. You hear stories about a large percentage of teachers quitting early on, but I’ve never actually met anyone else who stopped teaching and it’s an isolating feeling seeing all of these people succeed at something you love so much.