Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Escalating issues with students.

Some teachers are really good at identifying a potential behaviour issue with a student and bopping it on the head. Occassionally a student just gets a bee in their bonnet and won't let it go. What starts as a shoosh directed at a student when I start my lesson, ends with the student on in-school suspension for multiple misdemeaners during the lesson and ongoing issues for months thereafter.

There's a knack for diffusing students and when I'm concentrating usually I can pick the student and prevent them from doing stupid things. My favourite list of things to prevent these events is as follows:

Sleep well: If I'm tired I'm bound to miss the signs of a student ready to blow and probably respond with less patience than I normally would.
Maintain firm class rules: Respect, responsibility, doing your best.
Look for storm clouds: Student body language on entering the room can give an indication to their mood.
Use of humour: Sometimes a simple laugh can turn a student around.
Check their understanding of the topic: If a student feels hopeless they may compensate with poor behaviour to hide the issue.
Low key responses: Have a range of responses that don't draw attention to the student (eg. hand signals, proximity, diversion, interacting with nearby students, sending on an errand.)
Backup responses: Moving students, talking to them out of class, preventing students sitting near disruptive influences, extra homework, class detention.

If all these fail (and the student continues to disrupt the class) or a critical incident occurs (abuse of teacher/student, uncontrollable anger, damage to school equipment, visibly upset/crying) then upline referral is required - probably resulting in suspension. This of course causes further issues (my estimate) is that it takes 4 days to catch up for every day missed in senior school. The quality of the upline support will dictate how easy it is to re-introduce the student to class and resolve the issue.

When suspension occurs I see this as my failure - albeit sometimes I wish I knew some of the 'confidential' information within the school so that I could modify my responses to errant behaviour accordingly.

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