The principal and assistant principal have long been known for being the enforcer of rules and the bearer of bad news to families. Most times when I make a call to a family and reveal my name, the response is one of panic. They assume something is wrong or their child is in trouble. This is often the case even when a teacher contacts a familly, especially if the only communication is about what is going wrong at school. Lately I have been reflecting on how to find a balance of communication between teachers, families, and administration. I picture this as a triangle of continuous support surrounding the child. The deeper the level of connection and communication surrounding the child, the higher the chances for improving the behaviors.
Teachers often feel so defeated when they are unable to find something that works for a child. They are quick to blame themselves for missing something, or for making the wrong decisions (lead learners do this too!). Teachers need to have the autonomy and the confidence to intervene with student behavior, just as they intervene with academic gaps.
Think about the child in your classroom or school who has you stumped…that kid who might press your buttons, and has repeated behavior(s) that highly impact the environment in your classroom. Keeping that child in mind, consider this…
“The children who are most apathetic, confrontational, and aggressive, are the children who need us the most. They may not show it, but they need us.”
If they need us the most, what do our interactions with these kids look like on a day to day basis? How many positive interactions do we have compared to negative interactions? Which make the most impact on chidren who appear to be unloving and apathetic? It is safe to say that many times our kids who have immense struggles at school most likely receive more negative interactions with adults (home and school). They are most likely corrected repeatedly, removed from a group, lose a priviledge, receive punishments, and feel isolated from their peers. If a child interacts with 6 adults daily, and has more negative interactions with those adults than positive interactions…how might this begin to impact the child’s willingness to make good choices? Can we as adults be motivated to become better if we had more negative interactions than positive?
We want ALL of our kids to be successful, or we wouldn’t be in the kid biz! We have heartfelt intentions for them, but sometimes days go by and some of our kids may not receive enough positive interactions. So…
How can we be more intentional about creating an imbalance of positives and negatives? Our goal is to weigh more on the positive side!
I often wonder about specifics each classroom teacher should be able to share when seeking assistance with a behavioral concern. As a lead learner, I always want teachers to feel supported, and I want the children to feel loved. How much support is too much? Do we make the tough phone calls, assign the consequences, and serve as the person to place fear in the child? I don’t believe that helps anyone in the situation! What if teachers were empowered to collaborate with their colleagues and administrators to create informal plans to meet the needs of each indivudual struggling with a behavioral issue? I wonder…
What if every reflected on these questions when faced with a challenge in student behavior? What if every administrator centered conversations around these questions in order to keep the dialouge going in collaborative ways? The outcome will be more positive interactions with kids who need the support!
I challenge you to plan ways to ensure that your students with behavior struggles receive more positive interactions than negative. I challenge you to the following:
Use the 2×10 Strategy to spend quality time with the student.
Have lunch with the student.
Take a selfie with the student and post it to your school’s social media threads
Share the selfie with the child’s family via email, Remind, etc.
If every classroom teacher committed to this challenge…think of the possibilities for our kids and the impact that will be made. Is it a cure for the mental health diagnosis, lack of medications, trauma, apathy, or lack of physical necessities within these kids? Definitely not, but it sure will send a message to the child and his/her family that you care deeply. We cannot reach children and families who do not feel loved and valued. .If the relationship isn’t there, the content is irrelevant.
Who will you seek out? Which child needs you to be more intentional with him/her? What might you be missing out on if you overlook opportunities to connect? Opportunity is always knocking…will you answer?