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mobleya 10-07-2012 12:14 PM

"Take a Break"
I have a student who has a one on one associate for behavior. The resource teacher, his associate and the behavior consultant are worried that when he gets frustrated and is told "you may do ______ or you may ask for a break" that he's not asking for a break and continues to escalate until he's tearing up my room.

There has been a recent conversation that maybe he doesn't want to take a break because he sees that as a negative thing in my classroom. I tried to defend that taking a break is not a negative thing- it's a time for a student to remove himself/herself from the situation to calm down and get his/her body under control, then he/she can return to the activity.

But, just in case I need to change my wording with the rest of the class, does anyone call "take a break" something else??


whatever 10-07-2012 01:07 PM

Can you give him an extra task that
forces a "break" in another way? When you see or hear him escalating, say "Student, please deliver these books to Mrs. NeighborTeacher/the library/the nurse/whoever." Just have it prearranged that when those books arrive, they are not taken by surprise. You could also do a short note of no consequence to the other party but some level of "work" or weight is supposed to be helpful. Also, phrase it as a request/command and not as a question so that he cannot refuse--the "no" response is not an option.

When he needs the next break, ask him to go get them back...<!--giggle-->

Depending on the distance and other factors, maybe the para can just observe from a distance so it builds in an opportunity for the student to perform the task independently, yet successfully.

Have a couple of those set up so he doesn't figure out any set pattern.

Mrs. R :) 10-08-2012 05:23 AM

Hi Mobleya,

I wondered if you've had a problem solving conference with this student. Something along the lines of... "I notice when you are given a choice to take a break, you often don't. Why is that a problem? What happens when you don't take a break?" Then, reinforcing with your student the goals of take a break may help.

Perhaps getting at the reason for his resistance instead of guessing may give you a better handle on it.

Having said that, I had a child one year who would not sit in the take a break chair. She lieterally would hover over it and sob when I sent her there. Obviously, this was not going to help her regain self-control and continue to let my teaching happen! So, I had a problem-solving conference with her. The catch was, she wasn't able, or was unwilling to share why it was so traumatic for her to sit in the chair. When it was clear that the chair was not going to work for her (regardless of the reason) I asked her what we could do instead. She came up with a signal I could give her. Then she would just stop what she was doing where she was, close her eyes and take some deep breaths. I made sure to hold her accountable by using reinforcing language and some debriefing conferences. I never had her sit in that chair again, but I was able to get her to take a break and regain self-control.

Hope this helps!

mobleya 10-12-2012 08:05 PM

Thank you for your thoughts. Actually, I don't have any control over the plan put in place for this particular student. The behavior specialists and the special education teachers form the very specific plan that his associate has to carry out to the "t". They collect data on refusals and physical aggression..

It's interesting, this student has social skills time with the special education teacher first thing in the morning. I don't think he can answer why he doesn't want to take a break (or why he growls, screams, or throws and kicks things). Once his escalation has come back down from it's peak, he's one that can't verbalize what's happened.

My question was if anyone refers to "take a break" as something else for the REST of the class?? No one else has trouble taking a break to regain control. I can't interfere with the plan in place for this one child, but I can change my language with the rest of the class, if necessary.

Mrs. R :) 10-14-2012 01:49 PM

I undrstood your question, but thought I'd offer another perspective before changing the language for the entire class.

My thought about another name would be to include everyone in renaming the take-a-break spot. Caltha Crowe does just that with her class (when she was teaching). You could make sure to involve your child in the discussion somehoe so that he is part of the naming and perhaps his idea gets used! Kids come up with the best names to convey the goal of take-a-break and often speak better "kid-ese" than we do!

Best of luck. Hope this helps.

gam327 10-16-2012 03:32 PM

I call it "Go to Australia." Australia is the corner in my room with a pillow, a teddy bear (which doubles as a punching bag at times), and a notebook to write about feelings. It's the most comfortable spot in the room and sometimes I think kids are acting up just to get to sit on the pillow for a while.
And, why are you giving the student a choice? If he needs to take a break, that is your decision as the teacher because you are responsible for the safety of the room. Is there something that prevents you from being able to order him to take a break?

Mrs. R :) 10-17-2012 04:34 AM

I think she has to give a choice based on a behavioral plan that is put in place. The way I undestand mobleya's situation is she doesn't have any input in the plan itself, but is required to help implement it! So, she is trying to find a way to do that.

mobleya 10-29-2012 06:28 PM

Yes, Mrs. R, you are correct. His behavior plan is part of his IEP, so it's followed directly. When he starts to get angry, the prompt is "you may do _____ or ask to take a break". They (meaning the behavioralist, special ed. teachers, school psychologist, etc.) want him to learn when he feels like he needs a break and then ask for it (rather than escalating to the point of eloping, destroying the room, or going off in a screaming rant).

For the rest of my class, I tell them "take a break" when needed. I do have to say that I love the philosophy behind RC. Most teachers would tally infractions and then have students lose recess or another privilege. I like how "take a break" is an immediate logical consequence.

Thanks everyone for your thoughts! I really appreciate your time!

bgteacher 10-31-2012 04:39 PM

team iep
In my state classroom teachers are part of the iep team and give input into the plans. Also, anyone on the team can call for a meeting if there needs to be a change in plans. If your student is tearing up your room the plan the team created isn't working.

I have a student like that as well and they changed her plan so that the assistant watches for signals in the child's behavior and takes her for a motor break before she escalates at all. They watch for changes in activity level, attention, etc. My student is on the autism spectrum.

This change has made it so her previous school they were trying to decrease blow ups from 5 times a day to 2 and we are seeing about 1 a week at this point. I'm knocking on wood right now.

Good luck.

TishFish 11-05-2012 09:12 AM

Cool Off
is my keyword. I simply give students a small card (that says cool off and has a picture of snowflakes) and they go to the designated space. We have also designated "cool off" spaces in all of the special's rooms. In my room it is simply a desk (3rd grade). I'm working with our guidance counselor on some things to place inside the desk for a specific child who reacts similarly to what you have described.

We do not, unfortunately, have paras, behavioralists, etc. at my school. I have been struggling to come up with a plan to curtail this students ADHD and defiant behaviors while sticking to the RC model. This is my first year fully implementing RC (I have done Morning Meeting as well as some other portions in previous years) and overall it seems to have a positive effect on my class as a whole, but no effect on this child.

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