Saturday, August 31, 2013

Support from Administration Linky


Support from administration has been something that I have struggled with over my years of teaching, especially when teaching Emotional Disabilities and behaviors.  It has been a very frustrating and stressful topic for me.  I do have to say that things are going much better for me with support this year though. 

When Otilia, an assistant principal for K-2, contacted me about advice on how she can better support her teachers, I was absolutely impressed!  She said that by the time she gets called and to the room that the kids are in a full fit.

I have spoken with many people that have similar frustrations, so I thought having a POSITIVE linky about ways administration could support you more with behaviors in your classroom would be a great thing.  This is not to be a gripe session about the difficulties that you have dealt with!  This is an opportunity for us to write things that would help us in the classroom with the hopes that more administrators will be like Otilia and look for advice to support more!

So.. when things go from this......


to this....


What can your administration do to help?  Here is my thoughts:

1. Move as fast as you can.  Usually by the time the office is called, the teacher really needs help, so get there as fast as you can.  If you can't, have someone else go.

2. Have a crisis plan in place for your school and use it as it is planned!! You can set this up in a variety of ways, but a well set up crisis plan is nothing if it isn't implemented correctly.

3. Communicate - The teacher has been there since the behaviors started, so listen to the teacher on what is going on when you arrive. Do not just assume!  Sometimes you need to just get the child out of the situation and there isn't time to talk.  You can always have the teacher write you a note to send to you before you proceed or call them from your office, so that they can explain things without the student hearing, as this might set the child off more if they hear the teacher "telling on them".  Then, communicate any consequences that may be decided.

4. Be willing to remove a student from the classroom.  Not only does a child need time to calm, but many times a teacher needs some time to calm down from a situation also.  Depending on the situation, removing the student is the best idea.  Other times, it might be nice for the administrator to take over the class for just a few minutes while the teacher runs to the bathroom or something just to regroup.

5. Know the behavior plans of consistent behavior issues!  This is probably one of my most important pieces of advice on the subject.  For a consistent behavior student, there is probably a written behavior plan with steps for dealing with the behavior and a data tracking piece.  Follow the behavior plan as best as possible.  We have to show the students a united front and if the teacher is following the plan in the classroom, but then it is not followed when removed from the room, the behaviors will escalate.  Students are smart and if they know they are going to be able to to get out of class and just hang out in the office, they are going to do it more often.  If they know that there are certain consequences or steps followed in the classroom, but those aren't followed by others in the school, they will quickly find ways around it.

6. My last piece of advice is to help with documentation.  Special Education teachers, especially, are consistently documenting behaviors.  It is great to have documented things from others that deal with the student also to show the settings and the people that the behavior happens with it.  Take a few minutes to ask the best way to document it for the teacher.  Many will be good with a quick e-mail that can be added to a file.

Thank you to those wonderful administrators that are working to help their staff with behaviors.  I truly want to thank Otilia for writing me about this topic.  I hope this helps!

I would love for anyone else to link up with your thoughts on what support would help in your room also!

You can grab the picture at the top of the page to add to your post.  Then, link your post up below!



Thursday, August 29, 2013

Therapy Thursday: Making Weighted Items

I recently came across a site that had ideas for making your own therapy items.  The site can be found here. Weighted items can be so expensive to buy and sometimes you don't even know if they are going to work.  We always like to try things before buying them, so here are some easier ways to make things to try before buying the expensive ones.
  • Weighted blanket: Take a heavy afghan and and fold it into quarters to concentrate the weight. Put it on your child at night and see if it stops rocking, rolling, and sleeplessness.
  • Weighted vest: Take an old vest or shirt and fill up the pockets and hems with curtain weights. Have your child wear it during stressful times, but not constantly -- it will lose its effect with overuse. Consult with an occupational therapist trained in sensory-integration techniques to determine the appropriate amount of weight for your child.
  • Pencil weight: Got a big box of loose nuts and bolts in the garage? Rummage through to find some nuts that will fit on the end of a pencil, then glue two or three of them around the barrel.
  • Weighted stuffed animal: Take an old favorite stuffed animal -- but one not so favorite that your child will mind you slashing it open -- and cut open paws and tummy to insert more curtain weights, nuts and bolts, or other heavy items. Sew the critter back up securely and let him sit on your child's lap during homework.
  • Body weights: Catalogs sell weights for wrists, arms, even shoes. Improvise by putting some books in a backpack or weights in a fanny pack and having your child wear them when jumpy.

The picture above is from another site called Anktangle that has a good how to description on making your own weighted stuffed animal. Get there by clicking here.

I may be trying some of these in my new job position.  I was spoiled with therapy resources in my old corporation.  Although I am enjoying my current position and school much more, I am missing my access to therapy items and trying to restock my supply.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Dealing With Runners

Runners can be a very scary thing to deal with!  My very 1st year of teaching, I had 2 runners in an open concept school (no walls between most classrooms) and a door in my room that led to the outside.  Thankfully,  I was on the back side of the building, so the child was in less danger when taking off outside.  Also, with not having walls between classrooms, the teacher next to me could easily watch my class when I had to take off after a child.

Adorable clipart custom made by Lisa at The Lower Elementary Cottage - http://www.teacherlisasclass.com/

Here are a couple ideas for runners:

1.  Remember that you will not fix this behavior overnight, so be patient.

2. Find a running path that you are okay with and teach it.   Allow the child to run at first, but just give them a path to run instead of running outside or out of your sight.  We want to break running away so quickly that we try to go from a habit a kid has to completely stopping.  It just won't work with most kids.  Contain the running and then work down from there.

3. Provide sensory breaks with exercise.  Some kids just need that time to move... teach them different types of exercises to get that out of them.  If there is someone that can take them on a break, take them to the gym and allow them to run.  Teach them good circumstances to run in.

4. Provide physical boundaries.  You may have to place things near the door so the exit is smaller.  Obviously, you cannot close off the exit due to fire code, but you can make it a smaller area, so a child has to slow down to get out.  This will at least give you time to notice what is going on.

5. Provide visual boundaries.  Put tape on the floor around the child's area for them to see their boundary limits.  You can even provide another area in the room as an alternate safe spot that a child can go to, but they have to stay in one of the 2 boxes of tape on the floor.

6. Use social stories - Some kids just have not been taught or have not understood the safety concerns with running.  Use Social stories to explain this.

I hope that you never have to deal with a runner, but if you do, I hope that some of these ideas help you!  Have you ever dealt with a runner?  What worked for him or her?


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Earn Your Day Behavior Management

Have you ever had a student that doesn't seem to care at all about consequences you assign?  I have had a few like this.  I could remove privileges, assign many different consequences, call home, and nothing seemed to work.  In 1 of the cases, I had full support of the parents also, and mom was taking many things away at home also, but he still didn't care.

I wanted to share something that I did that worked really well with these students.  I have these students earn their whole day.  The student will start the day sitting by themselves in the classroom and at lunch, will have no recess, and no jobs in the classroom.  Each hour of good behavior can earn something back for that day.  You have to be very strategic and consistent in what they earn when because you want to make sure they have the opportunity to earn something before it happens.

Here is the chart I used and then I will explain it more from there:


This is just one version that I used.  I had it set up like this each time I used it, but what they earned when has changed each time I use it in some ways.

I always have the first thing being that they earn to sit with their friends.  They start the day sitting at a desk alone away from everyone and get the chance to move back to the group or near wherever everyone else is for the rest of the day.

This one was from a Kindergarten class that got snack every day.  I had his mother's permission to withhold snack from him if he didn't earn it each day.  I understand this one may not be good in all settings, but it worked for the mother, child, and I, so we were good.

So... for every hour, the student received a check or an X for that box.  If there was a check, they earned the privilege by that row.  If there was an X, they lost that for the rest of the day.  

One thing the kids really liked about this was that they get to restart each hour on working toward something else.  I actually would let them start working from the time they got an X.  For example, if I put an X at 9:20.  I would immediately say, "You have an X and did not earn recess today, but you are now working for sitting with your friends at lunch".   Yes, they now have to be good from 9:20 - 11 in order to earn sitting with friends at lunch, but at least they immediately have a reason to turn things around instead of giving them 40 minutes until 10 when the next one starts to get upset over not earning the last one.

One big thing with this is that you have to be okay with what you put on here.  I really found this to be very cut and dry for kids and ended with less fits because instead of me taking something away from them, they knew they didn't have it and then that they just didn't earn it for the day.  

Life Skills:  This can be tied in to the fact that in life we must work for things.  Everything is not just handed to us in jobs and real life.

Have you ever used something like this in your class before?  How do you think it would work with some of your kids that nothing else seems to work for?


Sunday, August 18, 2013

Don't Limit Me

This is such a powerful message for a child with Down Syndrome.  This is a must watch for teachers and great for everyone else!  Check it out please!


Saturday, August 17, 2013

Behavior Management Linky

Whether you are a general education teacher, special education teacher, parent, principal, or some other occupation working with children, most of us will come across some significantly bad behaviors at some point.  How you handle these students from the start can set up how your whole classroom functions.

Kim suggested on Teaching Through Turbulence Facebook page that a linky about handling students with emotional and behavioral problems would be beneficial, so here it is.  How do you handle individuals with behaviors in your classroom, on your caseload, or in your home?

Background on logo from Amy Alvis:  http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Amy-Alvis
Clipart from Lisa Parnello: http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Lisa-Parnello
Font from Kevin and Amanda:  http://www.kevinandamanda.com/

First of all, I want to state one of my biggest pet peeves when working with these kids.  I strongly dislike when others say about a student with behaviors, "This student does not belong in this school," especially when it is said after the first sightings of the behaviors.  Working with behaviors are very difficult, I understand that... but many of these kids have these behaviors because of things that are going on at home and need some structure, some love, and some things added in at school that can help them get through these behaviors.  It takes time, but be patient and work to be that changing person in a kid's life. (And yes, I understand there are more severe students that need more help/support than can be provided in a general public school, but not all kids are like this, so don't write them off immediately.)

As for advice to share, I am going to share a few here, but if you have any questions or need specific help with certain behaviors, please e-mail me at teachingthroughturbulence@gmail.com.  Hopefully there will be some good link-ups for you to look through also.

1.  Determine the function for the behavior and then do whatever you need to stop providing it.  If they are doing a behavior because they want attention, don't give them attention when they are doing it.  This sounds easy, but it isn't.  If a kid is acting out, our first reaction is to correct them and stay on them until they do what we want.  If they are wanting attention, you are continuing to talk to them to give them redirections and therefore giving them the attention that they want.  They have no desire to stop then.  If they are acting out to avoid doing an assignment, and you move them to timeout or somewhere away from having to do the assignment, they are probably going to act out again to get out of an assignment.  You have to think outside the box on consequences.  Ignoring a child may end up being a consequence or making them work through an entire assignment may be the consequence needed to stop the behavior.

Here is a chart I made that helps determine the functions of behavior.

2. Change your classroom expectations.  Fidget toys, standing by desk instead of sitting, and the use of visuals can be things that you implement in your classroom that can help all your students.  These are easy things to implement and if you teach the procedures of them to the whole class, they can be very easy to manage also.

3. Differentiate your behavior plan - If you have a set behavior plan for your class, think about how you can modify it to meet the needs of a student with behaviors.  For example, if you have a clip chart that students can only move down on, maybe a student with behaviors is allowed to move both ways so they don't completely shut down and stop trying with they make it to red each day.  You could add in a behavior tracking sheet as an addition to your classroom management for certain students.  You can have students work to earn everything in your classroom instead of taking away things as consequences.  Have them start the day with nothing (sitting by themselves, no recess, no jobs, etc) and then set increments of subjects or hours that if they are good for a certain time, they earn something back for that day.  This can be very effective.

Bottom line:  There are so many individual strategies that can be given for specific behaviors, but you have to change your overall mindset and work with others to change the overall mindset of the school and home to accept these students and work together for change before any of the little strategies are going to be successful.

Call to Action:  Now, it is your turn!  Write a blog post about a strategy you have used to work with students with behaviors or advice you have for others about these students and link up your post below.  Also, please comment on the 1 before you and the 1 after you.

I am looking forward to all the great ideas!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Document!!


I am working on coming up with a few more Turbulence Tips and this was a huge one that I cannot believe I forgot in my 1st round.. Documentation is huge!!

Documenting things can be so time consuming and sometimes you never use the documentation that you take, but if you don't document, you will probably need it.

Find some easy ways to keep documentation.  Some people keep things in binders, some on index cards on a ring, some in boxes on index cards, and many other ways. 

Some things you should always document:
  • Parent communication
  • Attendance (keep for your own records because you never know when what you turn in to the office will need to be checked or lost)
  • Academic Data
  • Behavior Data (I am planning to touch on behavior data in future posts for you)
  • Standards Met
What are your favorite ways to keep documentation?  What other things do you keep consistent documentation of?


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Saturday Share - Primary Paradise

If you are new to Saturday Share with me, I try to highlight a good idea, post, or blog that I saw during the week.  I also take guest bloggers for Saturdays.  If you are ever interested in guest blogging, feel free to contact me and let me know.

Today's Saturday Share comes from a blog that I love to follow and have been for a long time:  Primary Paradise.
My Primary Paradise

Primary Paradise actually highlights the Top 5 Freebies of the week that she found.  I have found a lot of great things from what she has highlighted.  I just downloaded a pack of beginning of the year assessments for Kindergarten and 1st grade!

She also shared a good idea this week that she found on Pinterest.  Do you use popsicle sticks with kids' names on them to randomly select kids for turns?  I use to, and I would start picking the same people over and over or have to have 2 separate cups to move them to once picked.  She has painted hers 2 colors, so you flip them over to know which has been picked.  Click on the picture to go to her post for this idea and the highlighted freebies for the week.



Thursday, August 8, 2013

Therapy Thursday and Announcement

Therapy Thursday is back!!  Today I want to share with you a couple apps that I have recently learned about for different therapies... which these will lead me to an announcement.. at the bottom of the post.

I absolutely love using the iPad for teaching kids how to make and form letters, but it was very difficult to transfer from them using their finger to being able to use a pincer grasp on a pencil to form the letters correctly.

Chalk Walk is a free app for writing, but kids have to use the pincer grasp on it, so they cannot just use one finger.  I love this!  A great app for fine motor therapy.  Click on the picture to check it out on iTunes.





I also have came across a free app for oral motor exercises.  These will strengthen the mouth to be able to form and say sounds/words better.  This one is SmallTalk Oral Motor Exercises. 






Do you like finding a variety of new apps that you have never heard about?  Do you like knowing when apps go free?  I can help!!

I have been busy designing a new blog called Smart Apps for Special Needs.  It is the sister site of Smart Apps for Kids.  Smart Apps for Kids has daily lists of free apps.  Our new site has a variety of resources for working with individuals with special needs, including apps.  The same person runs both of them, and I was super excited when he asked me to join the staff and then to design the new page.  I hope you will go over and check them out.  You will find me on both Facebook pages and you will find me posting on Smart Apps for Special Needs' blog (although I do have a couple posts coming out on Smart Apps for Kids in the middle of the month.)

You can click on the names of them above or on the pictures above. (***We are redoing our logo to match the same style as Smart Apps for Kids' logo, but we don't have the new one yet... so just click through and don't worry about the logo now please!!)













Does anyone already receive the newsletter from these sites?


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Visuals for Starting The Year with Freebies

Are you preparing for the 2013-2014 School Year yet?  If so, what visuals do you have prepared for your room?  I want to share some of my favorite visuals that I always have on hand, just in case. I find myself pulling them out often.

(This is a revised version of my post at A Special Sparkle, in case you missed it.)

For Time Management, I pull out my countdown and my stoplight visuals.  The countdown allows you to tell a student that they have a set number of tasks to complete before being finished or earning something.  As they complete a task, you remove the top number to show how many are left.  If you put a strip of Velcro on the front and back, you can easily place the numbers there and then move to the back as you take them off.

With the stoplight one, you control the amount of time left. Visual timers are absolutely wonderful, but what if you aren't completely sure the exact amount of time until you are going to the convocation or until that guest speaker is coming?  You control the time by showing green, yellow, and red.  Then you remove from the top down.  I always start by showing all 3, so they know what comes next.  Do the same thing with the Velcro on front and back for this one also.


I have both of these free for you in my TPT store:


Do you remember my I'm Working for Charts?  If not, you can read the post about it here. These are super easy to make on your own.  If you have access to Boardmaker, I use pictures off of there and just make it on construction paper.  I do have a cheap version with cute clipart from Lisa Parnello.  You can check it out by clicking here. These are mine that were made with Boardmaker pictures.

I always have Turn Taking cards ready to go also for those kids that need a visual to wait their turn.  I put a green on one side and a red on the other.  Most of the time I give each child one that says "My turn" and "Wait" on them.  The child is responsible for turning their card green side up when it is their turn and then red side up when they are finished with their turn.  This cues the next person that they are finished with their turn.  You can also just use one card and have a child use it to show "My Turn" and "Your Turn".  I will use these sometimes when I am teaching to show a student that they are waiting and that it is my turn to talk and teach. Guess what?  Another freebie for you!

These are some of my go-to visuals.  What visuals do you always have on hand in your room??



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