5 Must-Know Facts About Trauma-Sensitive Teaching

 

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5 Must-Know Facts About

Trauma-Sensitive Teaching

 
 


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5 Must-Know Facts About Trauma-Sensitive Teaching

Trauma-sensitive teaching is a term that you’ve probably been hearing used a lot lately. You may be wondering what that term means. This issue of the Problem Student Problem-Solver is going to explain all that, plus provide solutions and strategies.

Unless you’re a beginning teacher, over the past decade you’ve probably noticed the dramatic increase in the amount of emotional, social and behavioral problems that students present. But, you’ve probably noticed that it’s not just that there’s been a big increase. You’ve probably noticed that the severity of these problems has also increased, and that the problems seems to be starting earlier and earlier.

trauma-sensitive teachingHello from Youth Change Workshops’ Director Ruth Herman Wells, M.S. Counselors, therapists and other mental health professionals like me, have long referred to the elementary years as the “latency” years. That term means that emotional, social and behavioral problems are usually less frequent and less severe during students’ earlier years. However, there are plenty of elementary teachers that now find that term to be woefully out of date as they report seeing far more severe and far more frequent issues in the youngest students. That’s why this article is going to include strategies for K through 12th grades.

Trauma-sensitive teaching AKA trauma-informed teaching simply means that the teacher is skilled in working sensitively and effectively with students who have faced or are facing traumatic events such as a death, severe illness, abuse, homelessness, crises or similar. Prior to the move towards making sure that more teachers know about trauma and how to teach students facing it, there were not widespread efforts to try to better ensure that teachers didn’t add to the problems faced by a traumatized child or teen.

So, for example, a teacher might have stated at the start of the year that students must get their homework in on time and there will never be any exceptions for any reason. However, imagine a student was up all night trying to somehow stop Dad from beating up Mom. By not allowing that student any accommodation of any type– despite the child’s very difficult situation– that can easily add to the damage that the youngster is enduring. Trauma-sensitive teaching means that the teacher carefully attempts to avoid adding more burdens and potential damage to the students’ already heavy burdens.

Trauma-sensitive teaching also means that the teacher realizes that many students may face profoundly serious problems that the teacher doesn’t know much or anything about– but is still expected to not add to the child woes. This may sound impossible, but we’ll show you in the facts listed below that it is in fact doable.

Trauma-sensitive teaching is all about finding a balance between what trauma a student may be facing, or has faced, and still offering this youngster a complete education. Sometimes it can feel like those two goals are incompatible and not easy to balance at all. However, this article is going to help you successfully find the balance between being sensitive to any trauma the child has endured, and your mission to educate.

5 Must-Know Facts AboutTrauma-Sensitive Teaching

trauma-informed teaching1.  Find the Balance Between
Trauma & Education

While it can seem to be difficult trying to find the balance between being sensitive to the trauma and providing academic instruction, it is actually not that hard once you have the facts included in this article.

Here is an important fact that will help: You never abandon your mission to educate, but you don’t accomplish it at all costs. Going back to the example of the child whose father was beating the child’s mother all night, if you don’t allow the child an accommodation such as completing the homework a day late, you are definitely adding a lot of misery to the shoulders of a child who may already be struggling to function.

While it certainly is laudable to hold high standards for students such as “no late assignments ever accepted,” the cost of that policy can be devastating to the child. Further, at a time when suicide rates, attempted suicide rates and self-harm are on the rise, no one can know what can push a student farther into deep despair, maybe even over the edge. By providing education in a way that takes the child’s trauma into consideration, you strike the balance between the child’s woes and your mission to educate.

Instead of unilateral policies with no room for adjustments, a better expectation is for students to work as hard as they can on days they are able, and to get some type of accommodation at other times. This guideline may not be appropriate for other populations but for traumatized students, it’s not just necessary, but critical. Remember: You may be the only sane, sober, humane adult in the child’s universe. If you become one more adult making their life even more terrifying and miserable, that can really crystallize a student’s despair and help drive them to hurt themselves, skip school or class, or just give up entirely.

 

2.  You Don’t Have to Know Exactly What the Trauma Is

It can feel like you’re in the dark. There may be a few subtle or not-so-subtle clues that a student is facing or has faced significant trauma, but a lot of the time, you may feel that you just don’t have enough information to guide you to determine who may be facing trauma and who isn’t. Here’s the good news: You don’t need to know exactly what is troubling a student, to know that you need to work very carefully and methodically to avoid adding to the load that the child is already shouldering. Here’s a way to remember this point: Must you see the skunk if you can smell it? Most people say that smelling the skunk is sufficient. Your students often give you tiny clues that they are coping with trauma. You don’t need to know the whole story to know that you want to be very careful that you’re your teaching is trauma-sensitive teaching– because if it’s not, you are very likely damaging or exacerbating the stress that the student is already coping with. Of course, if you do become aware of evidence of abuse or similar, you are a mandated reporter who much immediately notify the appropriate authorities.

If you follow the guideline listed in Step 1 above, you are going to be adjusting your expectations for possibly traumatized students by maximizing your expectations for academics when the child is more functional, and reducing those expectations when the child appears to be– or tells you- that they are struggling.

 

3.  To Better Understand Students’ Trauma, Remember Your Own Crises

Adults usually face crises and trauma at a lower rate than students, but you should be able to think back to a car accident, a death or fire that you lived through to remember what trauma feels like. Do you remember that after the car accident, you couldn’t focus for more than a few seconds, you just hunkered down in bed and didn’t even seem able to pull it together to get dressed?

While you face trauma perhaps only occasionally, your students can face it hourly, daily, weekly or monthly. They may live with beatings, sexual abuse, domestic violence, hunger, poverty, mental illness or verbal abuse. Like you, they feel a lot of the time that they can’t focus, they just want to stay in bad, and they feel too beleaguered to even get dressed. When you felt like this, no boss could have just mandated that you pull it together because you were already doing as good as you could. Your students feel exactly the same. Coping with the trauma takes everything they have, leaving scant resources to learn at a time when simply getting out of bed or getting dressed can seem absolutely overwhelming.

If you pressure a student to perform when facing trauma, you are causing more damage. When your rules don’t allow any exceptions even for a child whose dad hasn’t come home all week, you are causing more damage. That is why using only trauma-sensitive strategies in your classroom is so incredibly important. Either you use them with students who may live with trauma– or you cause more damage.

Are you worried that some students will take advantage of trauma-informed strategies? Read on to find out if that’s an issue.

 

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trauma-sensitive teaching guide4. Trauma-Sensitive Teaching Methods
Are Not Likely to be Exploited by Traumatized Students

Because teachers are given little training on juvenile mental health, many educators just guess at what to do when faced with students’ emotional problems. When it comes to students’ emotions, many educators may use one-size-fits-all methods with everyone in their class– even though they would never use one-size-fits-all academic strategies. For example, most educators will not try to get all their students to use one textbook because some students need a more advanced option, and others need a more basic option. By switching to trauma-sensitive strategies, teachers are no longer using one-size-fits-all strategies when it comes to students’ emotional functioning.

Trauma-sensitive strategies are not going to be needed with many youngsters who are fortunate enough to not be struggling with trauma. By using trauma-sensitive methods only with students who may be facing trauma, you are avoiding using the strategies with other populations who might very well take advantage of the accommodations offered. So, yes, non-traumatized students might try to exploit trauma-sensitive teaching strategies. By restricting the use of these methods to students who are in need of this type of approach, you limit or eliminate the risk of students manipulating the methods to take unfair advantage.

For students who do live with current or past trauma, they are unlikely to exploit trauma-sensitive approaches. Here’s why: First, remember back to when you last experienced trauma. Remember how you couldn’t even think straight? Remember how you had too little energy to do anything? Your students feel that way too. They would have trouble organizing their thoughts to exploit the methods. They will have little energy to exploit the methods. And, because you are perhaps the only sane, sober adult in their life, they are not going to want to risk jeopardizing their lifeline.

 

5.  Avoid The Most Common Trauma-Sensitive Teaching Errors

Some staff members look at a traumatized student and say that while they feel bad for the youngster’s difficult situation, that they have to be fair and rigorous in their academic instruction and expectations. A teacher adhering to this philosophy may never allow a traumatized student to submit an assignment late or to take a make-up exam, for example. While it’s great that this teacher is so tightly focused on helping students achieve, this style of instruction unfortunately means that struggling students are being compelled to function at times when they are so deeply in crisis, that almost any functioning is difficult perhaps impossible– never mind learning and mastering new and challenging academics. If you remember back to that car accident you were in, or when you were almost badly hurt in a tornado, there were periods of time when even routine tasks like hygiene and eating were difficult or impossible for you to do. Some of your students face tornado-sized trauma at home or in the community. They can’t function just like you couldn’t function.

Other staff members on your team look at a traumatized student and say that they are so concerned about the youngster that they just aren’t going to expect anything from them. While it’s great that this teacher is being so sensitive to the trauma that a student may be dealing with, but based on this outlook, the teacher may not be offering the child enough academics to prepare the child for life and adulthood. While this viewpoint is the opposite of the view described in the paragraph above, it too has both positive and negative implications for the student coping with trauma. With this viewpoint, the child will be spared avoidable stress and pressure, but the world is not going to care about what this student lived through. The world will still expect this child to be able to spell, make change and fill in job applications– all skills the child may lack if their teacher doesn’t expect anything from them due to the trauma.

Holding one of these two viewpoints is a common way that teachers fail to achieve trauma-sensitive teaching. Now that you are aware of these common pitfalls, you will be able to avoid them. By balancing these two viewpoints, you find the sweet spot that is trauma-sensitive teaching.

 

 

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    Schedule the Breakthrough Strategies to Teach and Counsel Troubled Workshop to come to your site. This is the one professional development inservice that produces results, results, results. Call 1.800.545.5736 now. This surprisingly affordable inservice also makes a terrific fund raiser. College credit and 10 professional development clock hours are available. Your staff will finally have the more effective, real-world tools they need to work with today’s challenging, difficult youth.

     

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    Library of Congress ISSN: 1526-9981 | Youth Change, Your Problem-Kid Problem-Solver
    http://www.youthchg.com | 1.503.982.4220 | 275 N. 3rd St; Woodburn, OR 97071
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Free Worksheets with Student Behavior Strategies

 

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4 Free Worksheets with

Student Behavior Strategies 
 

 


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4 Free Worksheets with
Student Behavior Strategies

behavior strategies workshopYou’re going to love the four free student behavior strategies worksheets included in this edition of the Problem Student Problem-Solver Magazine. Hello from Youth Change Professional Development Workshops Director, Ruth Herman Wells, M.S. We’ve loaded this issue with some of our very best behavior strategies for student problems like poor motivation and aggressiveness, and there is even a worksheet for girls who are not very motivated or interested in STEM classes.

These behavior improvement worksheets give you innovative, more effective strategies, and are taken from our in-person Breakthrough Strategies to Teach and Counsel Troubled Youth Workshop, Online Breakthrough Workshop and Breakthrough ebooks and books. Our workshop is scheduled for Seattle in just about a month from now, on April 18-19, 2019. Scholarship work-study slots are still open if you are on a budget. Grab a scholarship by calling 503.982.4220 and in 5 minutes you’ll be signed up to sign away your worst student behavior management problems. The Breakthrough Workshop is designed to give you 200 solutions to make classroom behavior management stop being a battle and start being a success.

SEL social emotional learningMotivational
 Behavior Strategies Worksheet

This motivational behavior strategies worksheet for your students is a clever way to build motivation. Fortunately, more motivated students often translates to improved classroom management. The worksheet is a simple multiple choice that you can use as part of a group discussion or it also works well for use individually with students. Click here to get this behavior strategies handout in PDF format. It’s ready to print and use right away. It’s taken from our Education: Don’t Start the Millennium Without It Book.

 

 

 

STEM motivational worksheetBuild Girls’ Interest in STEM Courses
 Behavior Strategies Worksheet

This unconventional worksheet is so silly and funny, that you will practically sneak information into your students’ brains. Designed specifically for use with girls and young women, this lively worksheet confronts some of the stereotypes that can cause young females to initially feel uninterested in STEM courses. But, STEM courses are hugely important to future career success so it’s critical to break down those barriers and successfully motivate girls to consider giving STEM courses more of a chance. If you prefer to have the poster version of this fun intervention, it’s our very popular Poster #415; click here. To pick up the free PDF behavior strategies worksheet version, click here.

 

 

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behavior strategiesReduce Aggressiveness
 Behavior Strategies Worksheet

Here are some lively, creative behavior strategies to help improve your classroom management results. You can help students improve their demeanor and conduct with specific training techniques like this sample strategy. Obviously, this one behavior strategy worksheet can’t instantly change students but using lots of interventions like this will make a big difference over time. You don’t have to just live with students’ bad behavior when you regularly use behavior strategies like this example. This worksheet is intended for use with groups so you can help students understand how others see their behavior vs. their own self-perception. Many aggressive youngsters don’t realize the serious impact of their conduct on others. Gaining this insight can help some students to become more willing to work on behavior improvement. This behavior improvement strategies worksheet is from our Temper and Tantrum Tamers lesson book that is offered in both ebook and book format. To pick up the free student aggressiveness management worksheet, click here.

 

behavior strategies for temper tantrumsReduce Temper Tantrums
 Behavior Strategies Worksheet

If you have ever tried to get a student to accept help to stop aggressiveness, violence or temper tantrums, you know that many youngsters have little interest in changing. This worksheet is designed to start the process of students reconsidering their resistance by helping them realize that their acting-out will be a lifelong impediment and a huge obstacle to many of the things they may want to do throughout life. By helping students gain motivation to change, change is more likely to occur. This single intervention lesson will not be sufficient to engender change but it makes a great first step. If you keep using intervention strategies like those in this handout, you may actually begin to see improvement in behavior over time. Changing problem behavior is always going to work better than relying on consequences alone because consequences aren’t very good at compensating for missing self-control skills. That’s why behavior worksheets like this sample can generate far superior results than sanctions alone. This worksheet is from our popular Temper and Tantrum Tamer book or ebook. Pick up this ready-to-use temper tantrum improvement worksheet here.

 

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    Schedule the Breakthrough Strategies to Teach and Counsel Troubled Workshop to come to your site. This is the one professional development inservice that produces results, results, results. Call 1.800.545.5736 now. This surprisingly affordable inservice also makes a terrific fund raiser. College credit and 10 professional development clock hours are available. Your staff will finally have the more effective, real-world tools they need to work with today’s challenging, difficult youth.

     

    Contact us now, and begin solving your worst “kid problems” today. Call 1.800.545.5736, or email.

     

    Working with Troubled Students Doesn’t Have to be So Difficult
     


    Behavior & Classroom Management Problem-Solver Blog Articles

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    Contact Us*  *Not for Unsubscribing
     

    Library of Congress ISSN: 1526-9981 | Youth Change, Your Problem-Kid Problem-Solver
    http://www.youthchg.com | 1.503.982.4220 | 275 N. 3rd St; Woodburn, OR 97071
    © Copyright 2019, All Rights Reserved | Permission granted to forward magazine to others.


Must-Know Strategies for the 5 Most Common Student Mental Health Problems

 

teacher classroom management blog

 

Must-Know Strategies

for the

5 Most Common

Student Mental Health Problems

 
 

 

student mental healthThere is no question that you are seeing many more student mental health problems than ever before. Many educators typically lack extensive or even basic training on student mental health problems and end up lacking many or all of the honed, more effective strategies and tools that juvenile mental health professionals have developed. This how-to article for educators and other non-mental health professionals is designed to remedy that oversight as much as possible given the limited space we have for a complex topic. This Top 5 list of student mental health problems is based on the feedback of the teachers, principals, school counselors and special educators that have attended our in-person Breakthrough Strategies to Teach and Counsel Troubled Youth Workshops recently. (You can attend too as our next live conference is coming up soon in Seattle on April 18-19, 2019 — and, even better, our conference scholarships are still open! Just call 800.545.5736 to grab one now.)

Hello from Youth Change Director Ruth Herman Wells, M.S. I have spent my career teaching about key student mental health problems and diagnoses to educators and other non-mental health professionals. I am hoping that you will be able to immediately use the information included in this important article for teachers, principals, special educators and other non-mental health professionals who work with children and teens. Even though non-mental health professionals can’t diagnose, the how-to article below is intended to give you the language to better understand, manage and communicate about your students who are struggling with their emotions and/or thoughts.

 

Must-Know Strategies

for the

5 Most Common

Student Mental Health Problems

 

student with conduct disorder1. CONDUCT DISORDER

If you don’t know this disorder backwards and forwards and inside and out, then you are a vulnerable target for your most seriously acting-out students. In our workshops, we spend hours and hours on this disorder because the student who has this disorder is normally by far your most impossible-to-manage student– and this disorder is very common. Affecting an estimated 11-14% of your students, this disorder means that the child or teen is wired differently than other students. Lacking remorse, empathy and relationship capacity, this child’s signature is his extreme acting-out. That was not a misplaced pronoun. “He” is very often a he, not a she. Girls don’t very commonly have this disorder but they can have it, and when they do, their behavior is often beyond extreme.

Here are some passable examples of this disorder from popular culture: J.R. Ewing from the TV show Dallas, Sid the boy in the first Toy Story movie, and Eddie Haskell from Leave It to Beaver. Everyday, ordinary interventions always fail with this population and generally make the situation worse. That means that your go-to interventions that work well or okay with other students, routinely let you down with this population. That’s why working successfully with children who have or may have conduct disorder requires that you use specialized interventions that are different from what you normally use. Since this youngster lacks a heart and relationship capacity, strategies that require empathy or compassion will always fail. There is no way I can capture this problem for you in this tiny space but there are countless free articles on our site to guide you, plus online courses and books. Go to our free, introductory Conduct Disorder mental health article to learn more about this common, serious disorder and to discover the kinds of strategies that must be used– and those that must never be used– with this very difficult-to-control student.

 

student mental health problem

2. CLINICAL DEPRESSION

Sure, lots and lots of adolescents are depressed but that’s not clinical depression. Clinical depression is more serious, more prolonged and more difficult than ordinary adolescent angst. For all mental health diagnoses, a mental health or health professional is needed to diagnose, but whether or not you can diagnose, you can certainly adjust how you work with children and teens who appear to be clinically depressed. The top go-to step for seriously depressed children and teens is working with  a mental health clinician. Next, after that, there are three major strategies that have been shown to be effective. First, depressed students often can benefit from having the chance to vent their concerns. Almost any adult can do a least some listening. Second, exercise, mindfulness training and meditation offer depressed students really useful tools. Along the same line, teaching students how to better manage their upsetting thoughts, can have a lot of value. The third strategy to consider is to arrange with the family for an anti-depressant but there is a risk of self-harm for this option, and this option can be difficult to set up. Studies suggest all three methods together work better than any of the strategies separately.

Depression needs to be taken seriously and it can definitely spur students to behaviors that are very concerning. As a society we are more attuned to paying attention to acting out, not giving as much notice to the more subtle, less obvious, less overt, more quiet phenomena of depression. Don’t let that cultural norm prevent you from devoting time to students whose behavior may be acceptable but their emotional functioning may still be of great concern. Depressed students are just as worthy and needing of your attention as students who command your attention with acting-out behavior. Read more about how to help students who face clinical depression in our free how-to articles.

 

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bipolar disorder

3. BIPOLAR DISORDER

I am including this student mental health problem here not because it is a very common disorder; it’s actually not as common as many other childhood and teen disorders. I am including it because so many of the teachers and principals that I see in my workshops and at conferences, are confused about what this disorder is all about. This disorder used to be called Manic-Depression and I think that old title was really helpful to remind non-mental health workers what this problems is all about. This disorder means that the child or teen gets really depressed then suddenly starts being out-of-control with little in between. They go from 0 miles an hour to 150 miles an hour in a flash. It is a very unpleasant, distressing disorder that can be extremely hard to manage unless the family gets a diagnosis and follows through very carefully on medication. Medication is the first, second and third best strategy. That is my silly way of saying that medication is just incredibly important.

I’m not sure if there is anything that even comes close to being as helpful as meds, but skill training can be very useful. The skill training must focus on teaching the child to take their meds. Skill training also needs to prepare the child and family to cope effectively with any issues that they may develop about the medication or its side effects as regularly taking medicine as directed is crucial to getting and keeping this youngster stabilized. When the child is unmedicated or missing doses, their manic behavior can quickly get very extreme and inappropriate, even illegal. If you are not a mental health professional and you think you are working with a child who could have this serious disorder, you need to alert your supervisor at once and hopefully you will be able to arrange a thorough evaluation. This disorder typically is found to start when the person is a young adult or older adult but it can occur earlier.

 

 

school mental health4. OPPOSITIONAL DEFIANT DISORDER

This disorder looks at first to be just like conduct disorder but that is not a very accurate perception. The difference between conduct disorder (C.D.) and oppositional defiant disorder (O.D.D.) may not be readily obvious but it is incredibly important. Treatment for O.D.D. varies dramatically from that offered for conduct disorder. While students with O.D.D. and C.D. typically both misbehave and can be aggressive and non-compliant, the behavior of the student with C.D. is normally far more extreme, frequent and damaging to people, animals and property. While that difference is important, the really important difference is that the child with C.D. lacks a conscience and that is a huge problem. Lacking a conscience, relationship capacity and empathy for others, the student with C.D. can track towards crime and other behaviors that society doesn’t permit.

The student with O.D.D. is believed to have a conscience, but that conscience isn’t doing very much to help. A good conscience can provide very good brakes for bad behavior. Absent that conscience, a child will do what they want, when they want, to who they want. That is precisely what makes children with C.D. so potentially dangerous and so very hard to manage in any environment. Being diagnosed with O.D.D. is far more hopeful than being diagnosed with C.D. as the hope is that if that conscience can be better activated, the student can behave better.

While both sets of students need extensive training to manage their fist, mouth and actions, the student with O.D.D. has a far more optimistic prognosis. The student diagnosed with C.D. will never learn to care about others and is pretty much always going to be reined in using consequences and possibly rewards. The student with O.D.D. can really do very well once their conscience is more dominant and they have mastered how to be a civilized, law-abiding, compliant human. If you are not a mental health professional, be sure to try to arrange a thorough mental health evaluation so you know whether you’re working with an apple or an onion. While these two disorders can look somewhat the same, you have to be very careful to proceed differently depending on which disorder is actually occurring in a student.

 

trauma informed5. STUDENTS WITH TRAUMA

Unlike the previous items, this issue is not a mental health diagnostic category. However, “trauma-informed” practice has been a prominent concept lately so that combined with the huge frequency of trauma, led me to include this issue here. If you work with kids, you are working with some youngsters who have faced, or are facing traumatic events such as abuse, violence, abandonment or crises. Students facing trauma who are evaluated by a mental health clinician, can receive varying mental health diagnoses (like depression and PTSD, for example), but it is that common thread of trauma that I wanted to address.

Students who are traumatized often have little energy for school or whatever service your site offers. These youngsters need help from a mental health professional but they also need to not face more unnecessary stress in your environment– even when they don’t do much school work, are selectively mute and uninvolved in activities. The key here, regardless of the diagnosis, is to strike a balance between being sensitive to what this child may be living through and your mission. When the child is more functional, increase expectations a bit but if the increase sends the child into a tailspin, then return to the last level where the youngster was successful. When the child is less functional, decrease expectations a bit and work cooperatively to maximize the child’s involvement but without adding to the child’s already heavy load.

Many of your work refusing students are children who are coping with traumatic events. After enduring serious incidents of trauma, children may be diagnosed with PTSD, Post-Traumatic Syndrome Disorder, which is a very concerning diagnosis. These youngsters, in particular, need your site to be a haven, not more misery, so working with these children very carefully and delicately is strongly recommended. Children who have lived through much horror at a young age and lack resilience, are very brittle and easily broken. The bottom line is that you  may be the only sane, sober adult in the child’s universe. If instead of being helpful, you are yet another harmful adult, you can help track the child in the wrong direction. Conversely, if you offer help, empathy, guidance and a moderate, unstressful intervention plan, you can often engineer some progress, albeit slow.

 

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    Schedule the Breakthrough Strategies to Teach and Counsel Troubled Workshop to come to your site. This is the one professional development inservice that produces results, results, results. Call 1.800.545.5736 now. This surprisingly affordable inservice also makes a terrific fund raiser. College credit and 10 professional development clock hours are available. Your staff will finally have the more effective, real-world tools they need to work with today’s challenging, difficult youth.

     

    Contact us now, and begin solving your worst “kid problems” today. Call 1.800.545.5736, or email.

     

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Social-Emotional Learning Strategies to Improve Student Behavior

 

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Better Solve Behavior Problems with

Strategies for Students’
Social and Emotional Learning

 
 

 

teacher classroom management helpIf you’re a teacher and you’re not using social-emotional learning strategies all day long in your classroom, you may be able to really ramp up your academic results if you begin to incorporate that type of methods when working with students who present behavior problems.

Sometimes some students’ behavior can seem incomprehensible. Some students can seem to almost randomly act out with a cycle or pattern of the students being acceptably behaved for a long time, then poorly behaved for no obvious reason. Misbehavior that appears to be random, usually has causes that a teacher may not be able to readily see or even know about. Often, the student has problems at home, in the community, with their family, their mental health, substance abuse, or their functioning that are not readily discernible– even to the adult who may spend the most time with them during the week. But, if you could see into your students’ homes and lives outside of school, you would have all the answers you need to understand what is going on to prompt the problem behavior.

In this issue, we’ll take you behind the scenes as best we can, then load you up with both preventative and intervention strategies. This article is in keeping with the recent national attention being given to social and emotional learning, as well as the use of trauma-informed interventions in schools and classrooms. Here, we’re going to focus on students’ social and emotional problems, as well as the trauma that some youngsters have to cope with. Since most educators get very little mental health training to cope with the serious social and emotional problems today’s students present, this article will hopefully be exactly the help you better identify, understand and manage students’ social and emotional problems.

Hello from Youth Change Workshops’ Director Ruth Herman Wells, M.S. I’m a mental health professional and I am going to be giving you some key mental health strategies to help you better manage your students’ social and emotional problems. Student social and emotional problems seem to be on the rise right now, so this article is well-timed to help you best help your students.

 

social emotional learning methodsStrategies for
Students’ Social and Emotional Problems

Here are some classic behavioral concerns that teachers often encounter with students– and the underlying truth about the powerful social and emotional causes that can be the cause of the evident behavior problem. After reviewing these scenarios, my hope is that you will stay mindful that today’s teachers have to always be stopping to look for the social and emotional causes of students’ behavior problems. It may be futile or quite difficult to try to resolve many common, everyday student behavioral problems without addressing the social and emotional issues that cause and sustain the behavioral concerns. Conventional training for teachers does not necessarily include thoroughly preparing educators to spot and manage students’ social and emotional issues, further complicating the situation.

 

“They’re Not Doing What They’re Supposed to Do”

It is really easy for an overworked teacher to focus on the obvious, things like missing school supplies, tardiness or disinterest. It is also really easy for teachers to come to view some students as just “not doing what they’re supposed to do.” The truth is that sometimes this type of ordinary, everyday problems– like having no pencil– are sometimes the manifestation of an overarching, larger issue that is having serious deleterious impact on a student’s functioning in the classroom and school. What teacher hasn’t chided a student for having no pencil? We’ve all done that countless times. Yet when a student’s social and emotional circumstances are not given sufficient heed, that ordinary intervention of chiding a child for having no pencil can create new problems in the student.

In the example below, the student sounds like he is becoming more angry, discouraged, frustrated and sad. The poem reproduced below, will take you behind the scenes and become a reminder for you that sometimes the real problem isn’t the missing pencil. Sometimes the real problem is what happened at home before the student even left for school. As you read this short poem, notice how focusing on the pencil will never help this student.

Cause I Ain’t Got a Pencil

by Joshua T. Dickerson

I woke myself up

Because we ain’t got an alarm clock

Dug in the dirty clothes basket,

Cause ain’t nobody washed my uniform

Brushed my hair and teeth in the dark,

Cause the lights ain’t on

Even got my baby sister ready,

Cause my mama wasn’t home.

Got us both to school on time,

To eat us a good breakfast.

Then when I got to class the teacher fussed

Cause I ain’t got no pencil

 

“They’re Too Distracted”

It’s true that the typical classroom includes many distracted students. But for many of these youngsters, the biggest problem isn’t their difficulty focusing. For many of these students, the bigger problem is likely to be something that the teacher can’t readily see or be aware of. In one of the schools near our office, there was a 10 year-old who kept complaining of a stomach ache nearly every day just around noon, and he would ask to go home. Understandably, the teacher was concerned about the daily distraction from academics and school. The teacher tried all the conventional strategies to address the somatic complaint:  Sometimes she would send him to the school nurse, sometimes she told him to just put his head down, other times she asked if he had eaten. Eventually, she sent him to the school guidance counselor who tried more of the same type of interventions, all focusing on the distraction of the tummy ache. After conventional interventions that focused on the distraction had all repeatedly failed, the counselor began to ask the boy if something was wrong, if something was troubling him. After a few times of being asked, eventually the boy did reply: “Yes, there is something wrong. There is something terribly wrong. My family is being evicted and I’m scared that if I don’t get home right away, that by the time I get there, the sheriff will come and my family will leave town without me and I’ll end up being an orphan.”

The interventions that focused on the apparent problem could never had engendered any improvement. By switching to an intervention that focused on possible social and emotional issues, the problem could be readily solved. The counselor had the parents explain to their offspring that they would never leave town without him, and the stomach aches stopped permanently. When you look past the apparent presenting problem to consider any possible social and emotional factors, often you can solve the original problem faster and far more effectively. This story is the perfect reminder to stop focusing on just the pencil or tummy ache, and start focusing on the unknown social and emotional concerns that may be the much bigger force behind a students in-school and classroom behavior.


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social emotional learning“They’re Lazy”

It’s easy to begin to see some underperforming students as lazy. Certainly, based on their work completion and quality, these students can appear to simply be uninterested and unwilling to put in the requisite effort needed to succeed in the classroom and school. A teacher came up to me at one of the workshops I was teaching and looking a bit embarrassed, she told me about one of her students, a girl who had begun to do very little work in school. The teacher had been really “on her case”– to use the teacher’s words– to do more of her school work and homework. Then the teacher headed into the teachers’ lounge and while there, she overheard the school guidance counselor talking. The guidance counselor was letting the school faculty know that the reason the girl had been doing so little in school was that the girl’s father hadn’t come home in a month and his absence was causing the family to be swamped with fear and grief. After hearing that, the teacher said “If I’d only known what the student was going through, of course I wouldn’t have added to her misery.” Make this teacher’s confession your guide to always taking the time to check in with struggling students to see if there are any significant social or emotional problems that could be interfering with their performance in your classroom.

“They’re Slow Learners”

It’s hard to imagine the scary, sad or lonely home life that some students face. For some students, their neighborhoods and communities are the setting for a brutal childhood that most of us can’t even begin to conceptualize. Especially if you were blessed to grow up in a home and community that were safe and nurturing, it can be tough to picture and remain sensitive to the grueling circumstances that some of today’s children and teens face.

The reality of our contemporary time is that the teacher may be the only sane, safe, sober adult in some students’ universe. That grossly magnifies the impact of the teacher’s behavior on these emotionally fragile students. When a teacher is not addressing potential social and emotional factors when selecting interventions, that delicate bond between the student and teacher can be quickly damaged. Conversely, when a teacher does factor social and emotional issues into the choice of intervention strategies, the bond between student and teacher can become really strong. That strong bond can create an environment where even traumatized, emotionally disturbed and troubled students attempt to work as hard as they can on days they are able– and that is the perfect goal for working with deeply impaired students.

You must strike a balance between the horrors that a child is living with, and your mission to provide education. The world still requires everyone to have adequate skills and education in order to function, with no exceptions given for people who had rough childhoods. So, by balancing the child’s pain with their need for a complete education, you are being sensitive to difficult circumstances that the child is facing, but you never abandon your mission to educate them. If you prioritize education over their suffering, you tend to lose ground with the child. If you prioritize their suffering over education, you tend to produce a child with limited education and skills. By attending to both priorities, you are still giving this troubled child an education, but without adding to the child’s already heavy load. The excerpt below will cement in this point so you can stay mindful of it in your classroom. The passage is taken from John Seryak’s book, “Dear Teacher.”

Gestures that some teachers make and may consider routine, might be the rays of hope a traumatized child sees shining through the bleakness.  I can’t multiply or divide without a calculator, but more  important, I know how to add and subtract because of a 1st grade teacher who gave me little plastic cars to count as I stood with my classmates who knew the answers off the tops of their heads.  A teacher offered me tools that giving up was not the solution.  Making adjustments and discovering the choices available was the lesson I was guided towards understanding.  Teachers may be lifelines for children in crisis.  All that I had left was school, my saving grace:  I want you to know about me, the traumatized child, who, somehow, survived…I’m not certain that the nature of trauma a child experiences is hidden.  I think, more often, it’s overlooked.

 

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    Schedule the Breakthrough Strategies to Teach and Counsel Troubled Workshop to come to your site. This is the one professional development inservice that produces results, results, results. Call 1.800.545.5736 now. This surprisingly affordable inservice also makes a terrific fund raiser. College credit and 10 professional development clock hours are available. Your staff will finally have the more effective, real-world tools they need to work with today’s challenging, difficult youth.

     

    Contact us now, and begin solving your worst “kid problems” today. Call 1.800.545.5736, or email.

     

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The Top 4 Student Mental Health Issues– Must-Have Tips

 

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The Top 4 Student Mental Health Issues

Must-Have Tips on What to Do– and What Not Do

 

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The Top 4 Student Mental Health Issues

Must-Have Tips on What to Do– and What Not Do


speaker student mental healthIt’s really amazing how more and more students seem to have serious mental health issues compared to as little as 15 or 20 years ago. With no disrespect intended, I am often surprised when I speak at school, juvenile justice, foster parent, counseling, social work and mental health conferences at how many common juvenile mental health diagnoses are either misunderstood or unfamiliar to the participants.

Hello from Youth Change Professional Development Workshops director, Ruth Herman Wells. That’s me in the image on the right, speaking at a large education conference in Florida in early 2017.  Often, when I try to explain a commonly misunderstood diagnosis, I almost get booed out of the building. Okay, that was an exaggeration but once at a Texas conference of several thousand, it did take a while until I got the group to settle down and listen. Then the room got really quiet as they realized that many of them had misunderstood some key diagnostic labels. I’m no diagnostic expert but I do know my basics really well and when you get done reading this, you will hopefully have a better grasp of some of the basics too if you don’t already.

WHY DIAGNOSTIC CATEGORIES ARE IMPORTANT

student with SEDIf you lack the ability to understand, refine and label what you are seeing, you are going to be far less effective. That’s why Eskimos apparently have many names for different types of snow. Understanding the snow differences might be important for travel, sport, fishing, hunting, and so on. Similarly, if you just see acting-out students, and sad kids, and angry kids but can’t refine beyond those rather global discriminations, that makes it much harder for you to intervene correctly, intervene using the correct strategies, communicate to others, explain to parents, or help locate the right mental health counselor, family therapist, psychologist, social worker or doctor, for example. But, the bottom line is that you simply won’t be as effective helping your emotionally disturbed and troubled students. There is a laundry list of woes that result when you don’t know your basic diagnostic categories for juveniles. One big risk: You can do great harm. The other big risk: You are much more likely to miss key opportunities to prevent or best manage serious or worsening issues like self-harm, self-endangering, acting out and law violations from occurring.

THE INFORMATION HERE IS JUST APPETIZERS

I can’t cram a semester’s worth of Juvenile Mental Health Diagnostic Categories 101 into this short article so I am going to give you just the starting point. Your homework is to go deeper than the headlines I am going to be able to give here. I will be giving you a quick description of the problems typically associated each diagnosis, and a quick description of the key issues you must be aware of. It will be your job to get the full picture yourself from a reputable source and not attempt to get by on the condensed information in this introductory article. We have hundreds of easy-to-read articles on tailoring your strategies to fit students’ mental health issues. Find them in our How-To Articles Archive.  If you haven’t already familiarized yourself with the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM), that is the bible of mental health diagnosing, I urge you to take time to do that for at least the 4 diagnostic categories I am about to give you. They are, in my opinion, the top diagnoses for juveniles in our contemporary time. As a mental health professional, I know how important it is that absolutely every teacher, school counselor, juvenile court worker, foster parent, social worker and principal be familiar with these mental health designations.

THE TOP 4 JUVENILE MENTAL HEALTH DIAGNOSIS

Here are some of the most common, most unfamiliar and misunderstood juvenile mental health issues that appear to be on the rise, occurring in larger numbers than perhaps ever before. As a non-mental health professional, you can’t diagnose, but you can carry the concern in your mind and make adjustments accordingly. You already do that with other common juvenile mental health diagnoses like ADD, ADHD and depression. However, while those diagnoses are pretty widely understood, and useful, targeted strategies are well documented, the common disorders below are not as well known and are quite frequently misunderstood.

emotional problems1. Conduct Disorder

This is your most misbehaved student. The student is usually male and you can see some or all of the following behaviors, however this list is not complete: manipulation, lying, stealing, damage to people, damage to property,  no relationship capacity, no genuine remorse, no compassion, abusing animals, delinquency, rule violations, defiance, negative leadership, chameleon-like, persuasive, bullies. The hallmark of this disorder is that the child is believed to have no conscience. Without those critical brakes on the youngster’s behavior, this student can appear completely out of control. And he is.

This disorder is believed to occur with roughly 11-14% of the mainstream population. When the child becomes an adult, the disorder’s name is normally shifted to be the adult version of this juvenile diagnosis, switching to a designation such as Anti-Social Disorder. Some passable, but not ideal examples from popular culture: J.R. Ewing from the TV show, Dallas; McCauley Culkin in The Good Son movie; Sid, the boy dismembering toys in the Toy Story movie.

Here is the most important thing to know: Routine, everyday, common intervention strategies –like making amends, for example– fail to rein in this very unmanageable student. That is why in my inservice workshops, teachers and others often underscore that “nothing works” to manage this student. If you believe you are working with a child with this disorder, you must switch to a different style of intervention and avoid or extremely limit relationship-based approaches as not only do these methods fail badly, they usually make the situation worse. In addition, the use of counter-indicated intervention strategies often lead the student to believe that the adult doesn’t have a clue so they can just do whatever they want. This assessment is certain to create and/or worsen safety and behavior management issues.

Learn more about this common juvenile mental health diagnosis.

 

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student counseling

2. Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Non-mental health professionals often confuse Conduct Disorder with Oppositional Defiant Disorder, abbreviated as ODD. To the lay person, ODD can seem to be very similar to Conduct Disorder.  This youngster does engage in problem acting-out behavior but the frequency, severity and duration of the misconduct is usually less than that seen from a student with Conduct Disorder. The overarching, key difference, however, is that the student with ODD does have a conscience but that conscience doesn’t appear to be having much positive impact. The key with this youngster is to “pull up” that conscience and get it to do its job better. That goal varies dramatically from the goal for working with students with Conduct Disorder. However, both students need to learn step-by-step to use more socially acceptable behavior, temper any rebelliousness and impulsiveness, and avoid leading or following other students into misconduct. Both types of students need firm rules and over-the-top consequences.

It is important to be aware that mental health counselors, social workers and other clinicians are hesitant to apply the diagnosis of Conduct Disorder as it has such grave implications for the child’s future. So often the diagnostician waits until the students’ behavior is so extreme that they feel comfortable and confident that they must apply that diagnosis. In the meantime, they may still be required to offer a diagnosis. Since there is no category of “I’m worried this kid may have Conduct Disorder,” diagnosticians often “park” the child in a catch-all category. The most popular catch-all category: ODD. So, quite often students initially labeled with ODD are really kids with Conduct Disorder who just haven’t acted out enough to “earn” the diagnosis. Sadly, this tendency to “park” youngsters confuses teachers and others who believe the “temporary” diagnosis. So what do you do under these circumstances? Use the methods for Conduct Disorders but don’t completely cut off relationship-based methods. However, use just a little bit of relationship-based methods and watch what happens. If the outcome is often grim, consider reducing the use of that class of intervention strategy dramatically as using relationship-based behavior management strategies with students who are actually Conduct Disordered, tends to fail spectacularly.

3. Thought Disorder

Although this is not a terribly common disorder, it is frequently misunderstood. Affecting about 1% of mainstream students, this disorder means that the student sees things no one else can see, hears voices no one else can hear, or has upsetting thoughts that are profoundly disturbing. An extreme, but good example is John Hinckley, who attempted to kill Ronald Reagan to impress Jodie Foster. Children and teens with thought disorder have trouble discerning what is real and what is only in their brain. The most important intervention is to have a mental health professional assess the child and possibly prescribe medicine that can control the disorder. This child has a conscience but her brain is not working right. This mental health problem is primarily a physiological issue although clearly the child’s behavior and functioning is gravely affected.

4. Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder used to be called Manic-Depression. That term was really a big help to aid non-mental health staff to remember what this disorder is all about. This disorder has two parts. The child swings rapidly at random intervals from being very depressed to being very excited and overwrought. This child also has a conscience, but they get so “up” when they swing quickly from being depressed to over-excited, that they can impulsively engage in all manner of problem behaviors. As with the child with thought disorder, medicine is the key. This is also a physiologically-based disorder even though it affects every aspect of the students’ life.

 

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    Schedule the Breakthrough Strategies to Teach and Counsel Troubled Workshop to come to your site. This is the one professional development inservice that produces results, results, results. Call 1.800.545.5736 now. This surprisingly affordable inservice also makes a terrific fund raiser. College credit and 10 professional development clock hours are available. Your staff will finally have the more effective, real-world tools they need to work with today’s challenging, difficult youth.

     

    Contact us now, and begin solving your worst “kid problems” today. Call 1.800.545.5736, or email.

     

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How to Improve Students’ Bad Attitudes: Strategies That Work Better & Faster

 

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How to Improve Students' Bad Attitudes:

Strategies That Work Better & Faster

 
 

 

 

How to Improve Students' Bad Attitudes:

Strategies That Work Better & Faster

student bad attitude

It's winter. It's that time of year that if the weather doesn't get to you, your students do. One huge annoyance can be the lousy attitudes that you are facing starting too early every morning to way too late each afternoon. You may even have a student or two who is so difficult and sour that you can't forget about him on that long drive home. We're ready to help. Hello from Youth Change Professional Development Workshops' Director, Ruth Herman Wells, M.S. I've spent my entire career developing and honing unorthodox, highly effective strategies to turn around even the most negative student you work with.

The most important thing to realize is that no one changes their attitude because someone else thinks that would be a good idea. If you directly ask students to change their attitude, that's fine, but it probably hasn't been working very well. The strategies below avoid the failure rate that mere words can produce when it comes to trying to generate student attitude adjustments. Notice that all of these student attitude adjustment strategies do not rely primarily on words, but take more indirect approaches. The use of this style of approach means that you are placing a light bulb over the students' head but letting the student pull the cord to turn it on. If you pull the cord for the student, then really the only option left for many of them is to fight back and resist. Using less direct methods means that most of the time, the student with the negative attitude, won't always immediately default to being resistant or oppositional.

The next time you consider just telling a student to improve their attitude, remember that the adult equivalent is being told to lose weight or stop drinking. That image may be a very useful reminder to minimize your reliance on verbiage and to increase your use of more indirect approaches that don't generate resistance.

teacher workshopIf you want more than the sampling of strategies offered here, consider coming to our Seattle Breakthrough Strategies to Teach and Counsel Troubled Youth Workshop on May 4-5, 2017. Right now, we have have two completely free work-study scholarships to give away. Grab one of these awesome no-fee workshop registration slots before they are all taken. Call 1.800.545.5736 to quickly sign up. You'll learn 200 powerhouse strategies for whatever student behavior, attitude and social problems you name.

 

Students' Negative Attitude-Buster Strategies
 

student bad attitude posterUse Passive Intervention Strategies

to Improve Students' Bad Attitudes

Poster #314, shown at right, is the perfect, low effort strategy to chip away at students' bad attitudes. It may appear that the student is just staring at the wall but Poster #314 could be eating away at them slowly day by day. You don't need to buy the poster. You can make your own, or have a student whose behavior warrants a consequence, make a version of the image shown here. Either way, students can't argue with a poster. Nor, can students unsee what they read. Your message was delivered– and probably more rapidly than if verbiage had been the sole method. With this passive intervention strategy, you've planted a seed that may gradually begin to grow over time. This tactic is most definitely not a quick cure, but part of an on-going effort that can ultimately produce results.

 

Use Strategies That Show the Benefits

of Attitude Improvement

If people are going to change, it's because they see a reason to change. Give your students a reason to improve their bad attitudes. Show students what's in it for them if they limit or improve their negative attitude. This approach can work very well with your more self-interested students who care mostly about what they can get for themselves. When the student is in a difficult situation, such as having done a minor bit of problem behavior, encourage the youngster to "Keep 1 Problem to 1, Not Turn 1 Problem Into 2." Since this strategy shows students what they get for themselves by evidencing a less negative attitude, this approach can be hard to resist. It is, in essence, showing students that their negative attitude is like the old adage about biting your tongue to spite your face. The more you can link a more positive attitude to the student getting more of what they say they want, the more progress you may make improving the negativity. It's almost like you are marketing and selling a more positive attitude like it was a brand of jeans or cell phone.

 

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student attitude posterUse Strategies That Un-Normalize

Students' Bad Attitudes

At many schools, having a sulky, negative, oppositional attitude is considered normal. Consider working to get that rather bad standard to be different. Poster #574 (shown at right) gives you some words to do that. It can start or further the process of helping your students understand that being nasty or mean or difficult is not a life plan that will work. You can also help students to identify all the jobs and businesses that people can succeed in if you are really unkind to those around you. Most students realize that there are few or no jobs where abusive behavior is tolerated, and that ultimately having a really negative attitude will be a potential obstacle and impediment throughout life. You are again selling the idea of a more positive attitude as benefiting the student with the negative attitude. Us humans are often pretty self-interested and that makes this strategy a good candidate to use if you want to transform the bad attitudes you see in your classroom or around your school or program. Using the phrase shown on the poster, "healthy humans don't destroy other humans" is a great phrase to use regularly as it can impact some students who will find the words unsettling.

 

Use Inspirational Strategies

to Improve Students' Bad Attitudes

Some students are impacted by pretty sayings and inspirational words. For your students who have negative attitudes, but might respond to inspiring words of wisdom, consider using this phrase, or creating a poster of the words for your walls. The phrase is "Live each moment as if you chose it." These words are going to be especially useful for students who are sullen and negative in specific settings, such as P.E. class or when there is an exam announced. Because the phrase is provocative and worth further thought, some students may actually stop and consider what it means since it's meaning is not necessarily obvious. It is difficult to resist words that you haven't yet figured out, making this strategy a winner. In the instant that the student grasps the phrase's meaning, you actually delivered a bit of insight to the youngster. It can be one step on the long progression of improving that student's attitude in your classroom and school.

 

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    teachermissYou have students who struggle. We have solutions for students who struggle…so your job doesn’t have to be so difficult. We have cutting-edge strategies to manage group and classroom management problems like behavior disorders, trauma, disrespect, bullying, emotional issues, withdrawal, substance abuse, tardiness, cyberbullying, delinquency, work refusal, defiance, depression, Asperger’s, ADHD and more.

     

    Schedule the Breakthrough Strategies to Teach and Counsel Troubled Workshop to come to your site. This is the one professional development inservice that produces results, results, results. Call 1.800.545.5736 now. This surprisingly affordable inservice also makes a terrific fund raiser. College credit and 10 professional development clock hours are available. Your staff will finally have the more effective, real-world tools they need to work with today’s challenging, difficult youth.

     

    Contact us now, and begin solving your worst “kid problems” today. Call 1.800.545.5736, or email.

     

    Working with Troubled Students Doesn’t Have to be So Difficult
     


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    © Copyright 2019, All Rights Reserved | Permission granted to forward magazine to others.


How Teachers Can Help Depressed and S.E.D. Students

 

teacher classroom management blog

 

How to Help
Depressed and S.E.D. Students:

 Must-Know Tips and Tools

 


 
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Workshop Helpers needed to attend our Breakthrough Strategies to Teach and Counsel Troubled Youth Workshop 100% FREE while helping with workshop logistics. Plus, helpers can earn 10 Clock Hours free, as well as optional college grad credit. Call 1.800.545.5736 to grab a helper slot or to get more details. Workshop Info


 


 


 2 FREE

Workshop Helper Registrations!

for Seattle on May 5-6, 2016

Details immediately below or call 1.800.545.5736
 

free teacher workshop

 

Before we give you some fantastic tips on how to teach and counsel depressed children and teens, would you give us a bit of a helping hand? We have a fairly big group coming to our Seattle Breakthrough Strategies to Teach and Counsel Troubled Youth Workshop on May 5-6, 2016, but for the first time in two decades of hosting this workshop, no one has signed up for our Work Study Helper Scholarships. We are looking for two people who would like to attend the workshop totally, 100% FREE and in exchange, help with workshop logistics. It's easy work in exchange for waiving our usual $169 tuition. Would you please let your co-workers know about this awesome professional development conference at an awesome price? Helpers get the same workshop as everyone else and can also earn 10 free clock hours and optional college grad credit too. Call 1.800.545.5736 for details and to sign up. Workshop details are here.
 


 

How to Help
Depressed and S.E.D. Students:
 Must-Know Tips and Tools

 

teacherIt can be tough for teachers to know exactly what is the best way to help children who are severely emotionally disturbed (S.E.D.) Working with sad and depressed students can often be particularly difficult and delicate. Even counselors who specialize in assisting children and teens with depression and sadness, can find these youngsters very hard to help. So, if you are not a counselor, be sure to immediately seek help from a mental health professional or your supervisor if you have any safety concerns at all. This sampler of intervention strategies is not a substitute for that. The strategies offered here for S.E.D. and depressed students give you just a tiny look at of our more comprehensive offerings provided in our workshops, online courses and books— and this peek at our resources is definitely no substitute for consulting a clinician and our full professional development resources for additional guidance.

If you do want more than just a tiny taste of our innovative methods for children and teens with S.E.D. and/or severe depression, be sure to consider coming to our upcoming Seattle, May 5-6, 2016 Breakthrough Strategies to Teach and Counsel Troubled Youth Workshop, where we will cover S.E.D. students in great depth. As you probably have noticed, we have two no-charge Workshop Helper slots open, meaning you can attend completely free and earn clock hours and college credit too. Call 1.800.545.5736 to sign up or get more details on this fantastic opportunity, and be sure to pass on the information to any colleagues who might want to participate for free in this information-packed classroom behavior management workshop.
 

SED studentStrategies for Depressed and S.E.D. Students
 

Yesterday Once More
When children and youth spend a lot of the present being very upset about problems from the past, ask them to "bloom where you're planted."

Power Walk
Vigorous exercise can have a powerful effect on depressed children and teens. Studies have consistently shown that exercise is one of the top three things that can help a child or youth stay ahead of depression.  New research in the past decade, indicates that mindfulness, yoga and meditation are hugely effective methods to help students cope with depression. However useful, exercise, meditation and mindfulness are not miracle workers. Don't forget that if you are not a clinician, be sure to immediately seek mental health guidance if you have any safety concerns about a depressed child. It is always better to play it safe as the severity of a youngster's depression is often not readily apparent.

Power Talk
Talk is the other intervention that studies have shown to be potentially quite useful to help depressed children and adolescents moderate the amount of sadness they are experiencing. We recommend that you combine this intervention with the preceding method– exercise. For example, you and the student can walk rapidly around your site while the child gets to talk about any issues that may be of concern. You can "Power Talk while you Power Walk". Children who "talk it out", are far less likely to "act it out". They are also less likely to "act it in"– to hurt themselves with behaviors such as self-harm, self-endangering, substance abuse or other similar self-destructive actions. Depression can be both acted out and acted in. We tend to think of depression as just being acted in, but it can be either.

For Right Now
For children who are sad about things from the past or future, ask them "What's wrong with this moment?" If they say that nothing is wrong right now, then ask them "Why would you waste the present worrying about what's done…or what may never happen?" Assist students to avoid squandering the present moment for a problematic past or potentially problematic future. This intervention reflects mindfulness concepts beautifully if you are helping your students learn to be more mindful.


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student with SEDDepression Solves What?
For children and adolescents who are often mired in depression, ask them to tell you exactly what depression solves. Assist the students to understand that depression solves nothing, and can make things worse when the child neglects responsibilities or shirks work due to sadness.

Cancel Stinkin' Thinking
Now that you have your students realizing that depression never solves anything, teach them to notice and stop depressing thoughts by thinking "Cancel" whenever they notice negative thinking. You can call the negative thinking "stinkin' thinking." If students protest that they will never be able to turn off all the negative thoughts, reassure them that just noticing the negative thinking is a huge first step. "Sell" the idea of reducing negative thinking by emphasizing that students will be probably more comfortable and experience less pain by simply reducing the amount of negative thoughts.

Take Action
Train depressed students to take an action rather than just wallow in sadness. This intervention is the perfect follow-up to the two approaches shown immediately above.

Depression Time
For students who really hesitate to take steps to stop their negative thoughts, suggest to these youngsters that they simply try to reduce the number of minutes spent on negativity. Next, point out that there will always be plenty of time to be depressed later, that students aren't giving up anything, they can always choose to be sad again later. Alternatively, have students determine how many minutes per day they spend dwelling on sad thoughts, then have them reduce the time by a percentage that is acceptable to them.

Important Reminder for Non-Mental Health Professionals: Please be sure to remember this article is no substitute for consulting your site's mental health professionals if there is any possibility of safety issues with a student who appears depressed or to be S.E.D. If you aren't sure, always immediately consult your mental health staff or your supervisor. These strategies are innovative techniques that may help this population, but these methods do not in any way replace immediately consulting a clinician with any and all safety concerns a child or teen may present. To learn more than this small strategy sampler offers, come to a workshop, enroll in an online course, or check out our books.
 


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    teachermissYou have students who struggle. We have solutions for students who struggle…so your job doesn’t have to be so difficult. We have cutting-edge strategies to manage group and classroom management problems like behavior disorders, trauma, disrespect, bullying, emotional issues, withdrawal, substance abuse, tardiness, cyberbullying, delinquency, work refusal, defiance, depression, Asperger’s, ADHD and more.

     

    Schedule the Breakthrough Strategies to Teach and Counsel Troubled Workshop to come to your site. This is the one professional development inservice that produces results, results, results. Call 1.800.545.5736 now. This surprisingly affordable inservice also makes a terrific fund raiser. College credit and 10 professional development clock hours are available. Your staff will finally have the more effective, real-world tools they need to work with today’s challenging, difficult youth.

     

    Contact us now, and begin solving your worst “kid problems” today. Call 1.800.545.5736, or email.

     

    Working with Troubled Students Doesn’t Have to be So Difficult
     


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Bad News for Dropouts Makes Improved Dropout Prevention Tools: Job That Are No More

 

teacher classroom management blog

 

Bad News for Dropouts:


Jobs That Are No More
 

Compelling Dropout Prevention Resources to
Reduce Your Student Dropout Rate

 
 

 

motivational classroom posterBad job news for dropouts means improved, more powerful dropout prevention tools that can transform potential dropouts into motivated, successful students. If you work with youngsters who say that they do not plan to finish school, they should know that even robots finish school. That's important to know because these educated robots are in training to take over many of the jobs that are still open to dropouts.

Name the job that is still open to dropouts, and USA Today (5-1-03) can name the robot that can do the job cheaper Our popular Poster #148 provides graphic illustration. Check out what is happening to these jobs that your students say they will always be able to do without a diploma.

    G O I N G Nursing Home Aide
    G O I N G Aide to the Disabled
    G O N E Caregiver to the Elderly

Have you heard about Pearl? Pearl is a robotic nurse. She "has cameras for eyes, a computer screen for a chest and a tray or basket in which she can carry items to an elderly or disabled person," says USA Today. "That's so far away," your potential dropout may say hopefully. "Not true," you can reply. Pearl has already passed the testing stage for use in both nursing homes and private residences.

    G O I N G Maid
    G O I N G Housekeeper
    G O N E Custodian

It's called Roomba FloorVac, and it's not even expensive. For about the price of a regular vacuum, you can now own a robotic vacuum that can do the job without supervision. The Roomba will never call in sick, ask for a raise or beg for the day off either. Other devices exist or will soon exist for other cleaning chores.

    G O I N G Lawn Mower
    G O I N G Gardener
    G O N E Grounds Worker

dropout prevention posterIt costs just a bit more than a traditional lawn mower but no people are needed to run it. It's not a dream for the future but a product that is already for sale.

    G O I N G Baby Sitter
    G O I N G Nanny
    G O N E Child Care Worker

The ER-2 can not only tell stories or play games with kids while their parents are away, the device can also patrol the property. If the ER-2 detects a problem, it can not only notify you, but it can also show you a picture of the problem too. Machines will soon be able to prepare simple food items, set the table and clear it too. That's more than many baby sitters do. Dropout prevention posters can help hammer home the benefits of graduating, and our Poster #439 is the perfect example of how powerful these prevention posters can be.
 

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    how to motivate studentsG O I N G Home Aide
    G O I N G Attendant
    G O N E Personal Assistant

MARION-1 can turn on and off house appliances as you command via your cell phone, starting the oven or turning off the dryer. Soon, you can also purchase a robotic butler who will unlock the door of your home when you arrive, alert you to who else is home, and perform tasks for you on the internet. Other robots can call people by name and fetch or deliver items as directed. A machine named Grace can even register you for a conference, take notes, and chat with other attendees. Some of these machines even manage themselves. USA Today reports that MARION-1 even plugs itself in between charges when it feels "woozy." Our motivational dropout prevention Poster #149 illustrates our new world where computers rules.

Other jobs that don't require diplomas, but may be headed towards mechanization include fast food worker, customer service worker, receptionist, clerk, toll taker, cashier, dishwasher, bus boy, hostess, newspaper delivery person, and ticket taker.

It certainly appears that a high school diploma is far more critical than anyone could have imagined. Is there any encouraging news on the job front for potential dropouts? USA Today noted that machines used to tackle only repetitive tasks like factory work, or jobs that no human should have to do like searching for bodies during a disaster. Now, machines are starting to be able to take over jobs that may have been fine ways to earn a living, especially for people who had fewer employment options due to their lack of a diploma.

So the article had just the slightest morsel of hope for dropouts, but that hope was dashed by the end of the sentence. USA Today includes this blunt and devastating comment by Brandeis University robotics expert, Jordan Pollack: "I believe that there is a low-paid human who folds clothes cheaper than any robot we could make." You may wish to relay this information to students considering dropping out of school. Unless the student's dream job is to fold clothes for almost no money, they may want to do whatever it takes to get that diploma.
 

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    Schedule the Breakthrough Strategies to Teach and Counsel Troubled Workshop to come to your site. This is the one professional development inservice that produces results, results, results. Call 1.800.545.5736 now. This surprisingly affordable inservice also makes a terrific fund raiser. College credit and 10 professional development clock hours are available. Your staff will finally have the more effective, real-world tools they need to work with today’s challenging, difficult youth.

     

    Contact us now, and begin solving your worst “kid problems” today. Call 1.800.545.5736, or email.

     

    Working with Troubled Students Doesn’t Have to be So Difficult
     


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    © Copyright 2019, All Rights Reserved | Permission granted to forward magazine to others.


Re-Brand to Improve Persistent Student Behavior Problems

 

teacher classroom management blog

 

Re-Brand
to Improve the Most Persistent
Student Behavior Problems

 
 

Expires 5-6-15

 

 

 

You would think someone who works really well with misbehaved students K-12 Keynote Speaker Ruth Herman Wellswould be great with misbehaved dogs. Well, I discovered there is little carry-over from unmanageable students to unmanageable pets. Even though I teach a class called Control the Uncontrollable Student, I had to sign up to attend a class called Control the Uncontrollable Dog.

So, my mastiff-St. Bernard is really well-behaved when there is nothing going on. But Bergie, my normally sweet-natured, well-behaved companion turns into a loud, tantrumming, non-compliant, out-of-control opponent as soon as he sees another dog. His new trainer said that seeing another dog had become improve behaviora time for Bergie to misbehave and do whatever he wanted. She said that I needed to re-brand. Now.

Re-branding worked. Almost immediately. After three years of failure. With Bergie, we used treats to re-brand. Seeing another dog no longer meant tantrum time. It meant treat time. He quickly learned to look at me to get a treat, which was much more fun than melting down and tantrumming.

The same concept of re-branding works with students too. If the start of class has become party time, if class discussions mean texting time, if punctuality means showing up 5 minutes late, it's time to re-brand. It's time to teach your students that a chronic problem time is changing to something completely new. Here are some re-branding methods for you to use to finally put a stop to some of your most frustrating, long-term student behavior problems.

 

Re-Branding to Improve Student Behavior

Strategies

improve student behaviorRe-Brand Strategy

Start Over

For years I've taught that it is often easier to completely stop a bad situation than fight an uphill battle to make it better. So, if it's April and your classroom management situation is grim, stop fighting to make it better. Instead, end the class, and start over fresh– even if ending the class is largely symbolic and superficial.

So, you change the class name, you re-decorate and you re-arrange the furniture– but first, and more importantly, you actually teach your students how to perform the behaviors that you want in your classroom. (Here are dozens of free resources for teaching students those behaviors.) You need to teach the behaviors as systematically and thoroughly as you teach academics– to the point where your students are experts and veterans at behaviors like chair-sitting, hand-raising, talking one at a time, etc. Provide lots of reminders using posters, signs, door hangers, etc.

You also need to acknowledge the problems that existed and strongly emphasize that the problems will stop now. Once you issue this edict, you will have to follow through. Every time. Yes. Every. You will be tested so be ready to be rock solid at following through on your new expectations. If you don't, you will have great difficulty recovering. If you do maintain the standards of the new environment, you will have successfully re-branded.

The lesson for the future is this: It is always easier to create a firm, in-control environment and ease up later if you feel the need vs. tighten up an out-of-control environment. No one will fight you if you try to ease up on a very tightly run classroom, but count on a battle if you try to tighten up an out-of-control classroom. It's better to get your brand right from the start than to have to  re-brand later on. But if your brand has become a problem, and repeated rescue attempts have failed over months, then it's time to start over.

 

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classroom rules postersRe-Brand Strategy

Change the Conversation

In my live classes, I constantly hear about students' foul language that seems to be unstoppable. As with any behavior problem, you want to teach students the skills to behave differently, but on this issue, you have to be sure to also change their attitudes, and to give them clear motivation to choose different words. Cussing is comfortable, familiar and easy. Why give it up? You have to supply that answer and the answer has to be convincing.

Here is just one of our hundreds of methods to help with that. Ask students to name all the jobs, businesses and activities they hope to do. Have them list their answers in a column. Next, have students cross off items that are incompatible with cursing. So, for example, pilots can't swear at the air traffic controller, and employees can't cuss at bosses, co-workers or customers. The remaining items on the lists should be very few, if any. You've now begun to motivate students to behave differently. Once more motivated, you can teach the skills needed to reduce cursing. Once more skilled, provide constant reminders like our Poster #523 shown above. Your re-branded classroom can become known as a No Cursing Zone, which is exactly the change you hoped to accomplish.

 

student conduct posterRe-Brand Strategy

Practice Makes Perfect

When you want your students to learn an academic skill like multiplication, you teach the skills and ensure there is lots of repetition. Students may have to work with the times tables a long time before learning all the basic combinations. The same logic applies to teaching behavior. If you want students to learn to behave better, then you are going to have to teach it, and ensure that they get plenty of repetition until the skills are "cemented in."

When you use lots of repetition, it's important to vary the teaching methods used so that your students stay engaged and continue learning. Here is an example: Our Poster #543 depicts a Bingo game that you can make and use to teach or remind students of expected classroom behavior skills– especially what to do and what not to do. Enlarge the image of the poster to see more details. Activities like Classroom Excuses Bingo can make re-branding both successful and do-able even after long term problems.

 

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    Schedule the Breakthrough Strategies to Teach and Counsel Troubled Workshop to come to your site. This is the one professional development inservice that produces results, results, results. Call 1.800.545.5736 now. This surprisingly affordable inservice also makes a terrific fund raiser. College credit and 10 professional development clock hours are available. Your staff will finally have the more effective, real-world tools they need to work with today’s challenging, difficult youth.

     

    Contact us now, and begin solving your worst “kid problems” today. Call 1.800.545.5736, or email.

     

    Working with Troubled Students Doesn’t Have to be So Difficult
     


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Student Motivation Ideas: Motivational Methods That Get the Job Done

 

motivation ideas for students

 

Student Motivation Ideas:

Motivational Methods That Get the Job Done

 
 

 

ideas to motivate studentsHello from the Director of Youth Change Workshops. My name is Ruth Herman Wells, M.S. and I've spent my whole life inventing creative, unexpected motivational methods to motivate even the most resolutely unmotivated K-12 students. I'm the author of many books on motivational ideas for unmotivated students, and I train thousands of teachers and counselors annually on how to motivate unmotivated children and teens.

Here are some fresh, new motivational ideas that I know you're going to love once you try them in your classroom or school. They are designed to work when conventional motivational ideas fail, so if you've been frustrated by other methods, these strategies will get the job done right the first time.

Of course, it takes more than a couple strategies to turn around very unmotivated students, so be sure to use a wide assortment of my motivational ideas over a period of time to ensure that you get the level of improvement that you want. There are thousands of additional ideas to motivate unmotivated children and adolescents all through our huge website so make sure you see a good assortment of them.

 

ideas to help unmotivated studentsStudent Motivation Ideas That Work


 

Motivational Ideas

For Students Who Say

"I'll Never Need School Because

I'm Going to be a Mom"
 

If you have teens who think they're ready now to be a parent and no longer need school or education, try this great motivational idea.

Ask the potential teen parent to perform these chores that parents must do. For best results, use simulated or actual items that the student can use to demonstrate competence:

  • Figure out how to get an official copy of your child's birth certificate from your county or state records office so you can arrange health care and insurance.
  • Give your child 6 cc ibuprofen t.i.d. as per the doctor's written instructions.
  • Figure out how to get a social security number for your baby so she can qualify for health insurance or similar alternatives
  • Buy 2.5 liters of infant formula and give 6 oz every 180 minutes
  • To arrive at day care by 8 AM, how long will it take if you drive 25 mph to the day care site that is 15 miles away?
  • Buy enough diapers for your son for a week if he uses about 7.5 diapers during a typical day.

 

Motivational Ideas

For Students Who Claim

"I Won't Ever Need to Read"


Using the internet, have these students search for job applications for jobs they might be interested in. Have them determine how many of the applications require no reading. Next, ask these students if they might ever need to work.


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need33Motivational Ideas

For Students Who Believe

They Won't Need School Because

"I'm Going to be a Rap Star"


If you have students who believe that they are going to become wealthy rap stars (or rock stars, sports stars, models, actresses, etc.), challenge the student to follow through now on that claim. Provide a phone, long distance access and the internet so the student can contact music agents and recording companies.

When the student replies that he can't (or won't) follow through now, ask what will different later. Help the student realize that nothing will be different later, that becoming a rap star will be just as tough to accomplish now as later.

Also assist the student to notice how the skills learned in school can help– with tasks like finding a manager, reading a recording contract, etc. Have the student discover and list all the ways that school will help him in his quest to become a rap star. Have the student consider who has the best chance to become a star: the person with the most education and skills, or the person with the least education and skills.
 

Motivational Ideas

For Students Who Believe

"I'll Just Work in Fast Food"


Oh oh. The emergent trend throughout the United States– especially in tight economic times when there are abundant applicants for fast food work– is that you must be in school or have a diploma or GED. even to apply. Even worse, robots and computers are slated to fill many or most fast food jobs.

 

ideas to motivate teensMotivational Ideas

For Students Who Believe

"Then I'll Just Join the Military"


Sorry, but Uncle Sam doesn't want you without that high school the degree. The trend throughout North America especially during difficult economic times, is that you must have a diploma to even apply. Our Poster #225 shown at right, provides an on-going reminder. View Poster #225 enlarged, or order it here.


 

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    teachermissYou have students who struggle. We have solutions for students who struggle…so your job doesn’t have to be so difficult. We have cutting-edge strategies to manage group and classroom management problems like behavior disorders, trauma, disrespect, bullying, emotional issues, withdrawal, substance abuse, tardiness, cyberbullying, delinquency, work refusal, defiance, depression, Asperger’s, ADHD and more.

     

    Schedule the Breakthrough Strategies to Teach and Counsel Troubled Workshop to come to your site. This is the one professional development inservice that produces results, results, results. Call 1.800.545.5736 now. This surprisingly affordable inservice also makes a terrific fund raiser. College credit and 10 professional development clock hours are available. Your staff will finally have the more effective, real-world tools they need to work with today’s challenging, difficult youth.

     

    Contact us now, and begin solving your worst “kid problems” today. Call 1.800.545.5736, or email.

     

    Working with Troubled Students Doesn’t Have to be So Difficult
     


    Behavior & Classroom Management Problem-Solver Blog Articles

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    Library of Congress ISSN: 1526-9981 | Youth Change, Your Problem-Kid Problem-Solver
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    © Copyright 2019, All Rights Reserved | Permission granted to forward magazine to others.