29 September 2010

Survival of the Fittest... or Diversified

I remember the old General Motors commercials when they were hyping their pick-ups and their cars were not fairing so well; their slogan was something like "Do One Things Well."  This they did; their pick-ups have been the #2 selling automobile in America as long as the F-150 has been the #1.  But of these two car companies, Ford did not need or take any bailout money to make it through the first part of the current recession.  Why?  Ford had already diversified.  They had the Explorer, the Escape, and the Taurus which where the best selling (domestic) autos in their respective classes. 

What does this have to do my Life on Special Education? Everything.  I tend to get restless if I have only one plate spinning at a time.  Since I have finished my Master's in Education, I have been trying to figure out what venture I will add to my pot next.  I'm thinking that this next venture will be consulting with parents to help them create a proper home environment for their child(ren) with special needs.  This will be the first of many other consulting services that I'll probably be doing over the years. 

So, the question is, how do I take the next/first step and get started?  And the answer is that I'm not sure yet, but I'm researching around, and I'm gonna figure this out before too long. 

23 September 2010

Intricately Simple: Behavior Modification

I have been teaching for four weeks now, and have been referred to as the behavior expert several times.  Maybe this is because I am the Life Skills Teacher, or maybe it is because of how I have been able to have relative success with the severe behavior students that I have in my class.  Either way, i think it is a flattering, but presumptuous term for me.  I do not consider myself to be an expert on anything at this point, but I know that I enjoy the challenge that behavior modification presents. 

To oversimplify behavior modification into one sentence, I would say that it is to hold out until you get the behaviors you want from the student.  

There are a varying number of factors that play a role in implementation:
  1. Why is the student engaging in the behaviors?
  2. What causes the behaviors?
  3. How long has the student exhibited these behaviors?
  4. Were these negative behaviors reinforced intentionally or unintentionally in the past?
  5. Where did the student learn these behaviors?
  6. Can the student be redirected, or do they need to be removed when the behaviors arise?
  7. Are the behaviors a result of their OCD, or are they in somewhat control?
  8. And the list goes on.
Behavior modification required one to be fearless in the face of raging students, and patient enough to outlast the tantrum until the student gives in to the expectations that were set in front of them. The biggest detriment to behavior modification is inconsistency on the part of the staff member implementing the program.  You must be willing to wait for EXACTLY the behavior you want, and nothing less.  This is not easy, but it is simple thing to do.  If anyone has watched HITCH, the 90-10 Rule is a great illustration of behavior modification. Hitch is soft and steady in his tone, but rigid in his expectations. 

As I mentioned before, behavior modification is intricate, but simple.  So stick to your guns, hold the line, and never back down!

14 September 2010

Staff Meeting

I got the privilege of being at the focal point of this morning's staff meeting.  I have a difficult student who was turning into an Urban Legend because none of the staff or students have had a chance to see or meet him.  My class has taken on the characteristics of a petting zoo where people wanted to come and see what the fuss was about.  However, I would not have people in my classroom when a student is having trouble expressing themselves.  In the staff meeting I was able to field some answers regarding possible concerns about student and staff safety with an aggressive student, and what to tell students regarding this particular student. I've gotten good feedback about how the meeting went, which is good.  I'm just glad I was able to convey an understanding that this particular student is not a "bad kid", but a child who is missing the appropriate means of expressing himself. 

07 September 2010

Sir! Yes Sir!

The problems I had last week with a student, have not disappeared, but they are more in check today.  Today is done, and my most difficult student was not my most difficult today.  Why?  The answer to this is easy.  He did have a Behavior Intervention Plan, he does have materials to work on, and he does have a schedule in place, but he did last week as well.  What is the difference?  The strategy of implementation.  I was able to have a very simple question answered after the students went home on Friday.  This question was a matter of strategy when dealing with this particular student.  Do I give him time to adjust, or am I a Drill Sargent on the expectations?  The answer made me happy, because it was to be a Drill Sargent.  Today was MUCH better than last week! 

03 September 2010

Week One in the Bag

One of the biggest things I can say about taking over a classroom for the first time is that communication is everything!  I am expecting to have a completely different week next week because of a single understanding that I have now, as opposed to before the school year began.  That understanding was simply how hard to push a very... very difficult student.  in my eyes, the plan can be flawless, but without a clear strategy, there is no clear understanding about implementation.  My question was whether the behaviors he was presenting was a matter of him needing time to adjust to an increasingly familiar place (new school), or if it was a matter of direct, immediate, and absolute behavior modification from the outset.  in other words, do I give him space, or do I become his drill sargent.  Drill Sargent I can do... Letting a student (regardless of diagnosis) bite me and scratch me to the point where I'm bruised and bleeding I do not do well.  Next week will be a better week.  A long weekend, a renewed strategy, and hopefully one more body to help manage the other students in the afternoon.  Next week can only be better.