Teachers Make the Difference: Your Students Need and Want You

We made it to Winter Break!! Time to catch up on the sleep we’ve missed, and rejuvenate for the holidays. For us, this first week is ALL about focusing on family and traditions. We don’t open school email, lesson plan, or even think about school. We give ourselves permission to do this, through planning an intentional day in the second week, to focus on school. It’s a no-brainer what we will focus on in that second week: supporting our students in the area of behavior and emotional regulation.

We recently read Behavior Interventions: Strategies for Educators, Counselors, and Parents by Amie Dean. If you do not follow Amie Dean on social media make sure to add her to your list @amiedeanbehaviorqueen. What a behavior queen she is!! We could not put down her book. It’s a short read that spoke to us during our transition to in-person learning. To continue to grow and learn as educational professionals, we must be intentional with continuing our learning; no matter how much experience we have. We’ve learned a lot over the years, and our brains are full. Remembering what we have in our file cabinet and which folder it is in (all in our minds) is a challenge. Sometimes it's hard to remember which strategies we’ve used to support kids, especially in this new educational environment. Amie Dean has some AWESOME ideas.

As a principal and behavior specialist, we are often expected to know all the answers. We are expected to “fix” students with behavior needs. While we THRIVE and LOVE building relationships with students and problem solving, the truth is, we can’t fix kids. We can support them, and provide ideas, but we aren’t the people who can really make the difference. Those with the true ability to connect with the students, are the classroom teachers they interact with throughout the day. Teachers, you and ONLY YOU, can make the most progress and growth with the students in your classrooms who are struggling. They need you. They want you. We once heard the analogy that students who push our buttons and challenge us, are similar to the experience of riding a roller coaster. When you get on a roller coaster, what's the first thing you do? You push back on the seat belt to make sure it's secure and you won’t fall out. Well, let’s consider that our students are doing the same thing. They are pushing back to see if we will hold on tight, and if they are safe.

The Behavior Queen offers many great gems of wisdom that we have heard before, but may have forgotten since the pandemic. She discusses how a child’s behavior is like an iceberg. You only see what is above the surface. Take time to investigate what is really going on. Amie offers these questions to guide your learning:

  1. What is the child trying to get or get out of with this behavior?

  2. What need are they trying to have met?

  3. What skill deficits are contributing to the behavior?

  4. What can I/we do to help?

This will take time, but will be SO WORTH IT! Nothing worth doing is usually easy or fast.

While she provided many strategies that refreshed our memories and motivated us to continue putting in the hard work, the last we wanted to share with you was what she calls “mining for gold" as you focus on each students' gifts:

Powerful, right?! Also, it's hard to digest when we’re in the heat of struggle. However, we appreciate her honesty and forwardness to help us grow in our work. Amie continues, “If adults would genuinely mine for the good, or for the gold, in challenging behaviors they would find hidden skills and talents that may be beneficial in future endeavors.

We know this may be difficult to digest as you experience major behaviors in your classroom. We know. It will not be easy to think this way in the moment, but push yourself to reflect and to revisit situations. Instead of focusing on how their skills could lead them down a hard path in life, think about how their skills could be developed and coached, to be used for good. Use your power of co-regulation to help guide yourself and your students in those moments. You may be the only person they encounter who sees the good.

Confidence Coaches 4 Kids are educational consultants. To serve students, we support educators in the following areas: Effectively building trusting relationships; Integration of Social and Emotional Learning in all content areas; and Engaging instructional strategies.

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