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spedder1 05-03-2019 06:44 AM

40 years experience and am bamboozled
I have taught students with special needs for 40+ years. Over the years I've been able to problem solve and come up with techniques and plans that help children learn. I find out what motivates them, then help them achieve their goal. They get rewarded with the thing that motivates them. There are children that need a reward for staying on task. It needs to be instantaneous. I've used mini M&Ms, regular sized M&Ms, small pretzels, etc. Food rewards are amazing. I've used a star system where the children receive their chosen reward after they complete the assignment/task or list of assignments/tasks. This can be a snack, eat lunch with the teacher, a small toy from a reward box, extra class recess for a class reward, spending time with a favorite teacher in the building, etc. The building uses PBIS, but not the correct way. The children do not have desks that have storage, so the tickets are kept in a file folder. The children have no idea how many tickets they have. The teachers also take away tickets. That is not how PBIS is supposed to work. With all that said, I'm frustrated. I am working in a teacher support position. I am a sub who retired from teaching special ed in the district and have a good reputation for helping students learn academically, socially and emotionally. I am helping the teacher to be successful. I have never been in a classroom of students who are so out of control. The students are 10-12 years old. Some are there for extra support in one academic area and go to general ed for the rest of the day, but the majority are in the room all day, except for group mainstreaming times. We have tried moving desks/tables, rearranging groups, spending time on social/emotional programs, etc. Nothing works. We have them stay in during lunch/recess to complete work they refused to do during the day. We have hidden all paper, pencils, markers, pens, etc so they cannot color instead of doing work. I put passwords on the iPads so the students can only get into programs if an adult puts in the password. Some of the students know how to bypass that system. I've never had children scream at me that they hate me and won't work and to get out of their faces. I've been cursed at. One students keeps saying he's going to kill himself. We called the parent about that. She said he does it all the time when he's told "no". I told her that I was concerned that it was his "go to" statement. Another student doesn't want to see his psychiatrist because "I'll get sent away." I've never had students that refuse to build a relationship with me. I've only had 1 hug in several weeks. That isn't really an issue, but the same thing happens to the teacher who has been in there since the beginning of the year. Classroom climate or something like that is being blamed on the children's behavior. I know that isn't the problem. The teacher knows what to do. She tries to do it. Sometimes the lessons work. Other times they don't. So, those of you who work with students with emotional problems (3 are definite ED students who have not been given that eligibility), can you give me some clues on what I can do to help. I removed almost all the paper. The next thing to go are their personal binders. I actually caught one child grabbing homework that was to be graded so she could color on the back. Part of the issue is that the designer who recommended the classroom furniture apparently didn't think through the fact that the furniture, though expensive, was cheaply made. The "desks" are on wheels. There is no personal storage for students. So, they are all over the room trying to find pencils, paper, their books, etc. So far 2 desks have broken. They students will say, "I don't care." when asked nicely to get off of the furniture because it will break. Actually, if I had a nickel for every time a student said, "I dont' care." to me, I would never have to work another day in my life.
What we are trying to do is have one group work with the teacher on small group reading in the a.m. and math in the p.m., work with me on writing in the a.m. and individual math in the p.m., and work with the para on iPads on reading/math programs in the a.m./p.m. They cannot handle transitions. I am going to recommend to the teacher that we move and make them stay to prevent the chaos of them leaving their areas to move to another. It'll be a pain in the tush, but not as much trouble as them roaming free.
So, this experienced teacher is asking for help.

SpedinTx 05-03-2019 12:51 PM

Stop the wandering
I have learned that every second that the students are not on task means the chances for misbehaving greatly increase. My students do not have desks and they rotate to different areas for different activities and lessons. At each station each student has a pencil box that contains the items they need for the lesson they are learning at that station.

If the lesson only uses pencil then only a pencil is in their box. If they are using glue and scissors then those are added for that day. It takes a bit of time at the end of the day to place the needed items in the boxes every day and sometimes twice a day but it cuts down the wandering. It is also a bit expensive to start as my kids have 9 stations they need to complete but the freedom from the wandering / off task behavior is worth it. All electronics should be kept inside a locked cabinet where the students can not obtain them. They need to come out only when their is an educational need for them. Free time with the Ipads should be earned

Second it seems like you have three groups being pushed into one classroom - life skills, behavior modification, and resource. These groups should be in separate classes but as we have no voice in out students schedules then we need to "make it work".

So if anyway possible try to think of them as separate groups and design the lessons for the needs of each group. One group with teacher, one group with you, and third group with another adult if anyway possible.

If the students perceive the work to be either too easy or too hard they will refuse to do it. Try to eliminate "worksheets". Make the lessons at least look interesting to draw them in. Hands on lessons seem to be the best with my students.

All of this takes tons of time and my husband knows he will not see me the first six weeks of every school year, but once the culture has been created in the classroom and the students learn the routine then I back off a tad.

I hope this helps

spedder1 05-04-2019 09:39 AM

Classroom culture
That's the term I was looking for! Everyone who has spent time in the classroom working with the students knows that the students bear well more than 50% of the responsiblity for the chaos in the room. The P has them in her office for talks. 1:1, each child is fine. They are even fine in a small group when not required to do anything that resembles schoolwork. The P even said to just keep them happy until the end of the school year. I think she's tired of dealing with them.

A couple of weeks ago we did a really fun activity with the students. They got to make balloon cars. The glue had to dry for a couple of days so the wheels wouldn't fall off. The kids were ridiculous. They took the cars apart, ruining them. We threw everything away.

I put together a new room arrangement and a list of students that can work together with the minimum amount of fighting. Hopefully that will work.


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