11 Chapters
Medium 9781934009000

Part I: Getting Started

Ambrose Panico Solution Tree Press ePub

 

Discipline is not a simple device for securing superficial peace in the classroom; it is the morality of the classroom as a small society.

—Émile Durkheim, French sociologist

 

Chapter 1

Classroom Communities

In today’s world, we can no longer view schools as a kind of factory designed to mold students into a one-size-fits-all shape. Technology and a global community are transforming our society into one in which information has become the means of survival. Through school, television, and the Internet, we are often in contact with people outside of our own culture who may or may not share our values and with whom we may be expected to work. As our society changes, the goal of education must change along with it. We have a responsibility to prepare students for life in this ever-changing landscape. We can do this by teaching them skills of collaboration and providing a safe place in which they can make sense of their expanding roles.

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Part II: Activities

Ambrose Panico Solution Tree Press ePub

The most important observation you can make is when you become a glimmer in the child’s eyes and he becomes a glimmer in yours.

—Albert E. Trieschman, American educator, psychologist, and writer

 

Chapter 5

Getting Acquainted

The challenges and activities in this chapter are designed to help you get to know your students and to help your students get to know each other. Most teachers understand the importance of getting to know their students and make a conscious effort to do so. Some plan specific activities and set aside designated times to make sure this happens. Others do it a little less formally, but they do it all the same.

Far fewer teachers understand the tremendous importance of helping their students get to know each other. Fewer still actually schedule activities and set aside time to encourage students to build relationships with each other.

While it is entirely possible to teach a class of students who do not know each other, it can be much more effective and much more enjoyable to teach a class of students who have built relationships with each other. Whether they know it or not, most teachers (ourselves included) have suffered the following effects of teaching in a classroom where the students are unfamiliar with each other:

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Medium 9781934009413

Chapter 4: The Five Behavior Change Tools

Ambrose Panico Solution Tree Press ePub

Chapter 4

The Five Behavior Change Tools

Far from disheartening your pupils’ youthful courage, spare nothing to lift up their souls; make them your equals in order that they may become your equals.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

The Plan to Do Better process focuses the intervention team’s effort on developing viable solutions for challenging behaviors. To that end, the team must consider not only the typical reinforcement-based interventions, but four other kinds of interventions as well: belief-based, skill-based, needs-based, and environment-based interventions. Teams will often incorporate several behavior change tools in the development of a single plan.

The need to go beyond the simple application of reinforcement-based behavior change tools is well-documented (see the work of Gable, Hendrickson, Tonelson, & Van Acker, 2002, on students with emotional and behavioral disabilities). Belief-based tools help us distinguish between behavior (skill) deficits and cognitive (belief) deficits, as Nichols (2001) has argued we must; students sometimes need instruction that challenges their longstanding cognitive distortions before they can change behaviors. Skill-based tools teach both interpersonal and (more recently) intrapersonal skills. Van Acker (1998) simply says that when a child has an interpersonal skill deficit, our logical course of action is to teach the skill. (He further notes that once the skill is taught, a reinforcement-based program may be required.) Olson and Platt (2000) offer various cognitive mediation strategies—such as self-talk, self-instruction, and self-evaluation—to develop intrapersonal skills and ultimate self-control of overt behavior. Needs-based tools are supported by the work of Glasser (1996), who pioneered the notion that needs drive behavior and that students may be provided alternative socially acceptable behaviors to meet their very legitimate needs. He stresses the need to “(1) survive and reproduce but also, (2) to belong and love, (3) to gain power, (4) to be free, and (5) to have fun” (Glasser, 2001, p. 25). Finally, it is accepted practice that the careful manipulation of environmental variables through environment-based tools may be necessary to support behavioral change (Gable et al., 2000).

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Part III: Going Further

Ambrose Panico Solution Tree Press ePub

Provide a vehicle for honest, open communication to occur, and it will—the vehicle is the classroom community meeting.

—Ambrose Panico

 

Chapter 11

Putting It All Together: Community Meetings and Activities That Make Them Productive

The classroom community meeting is, at its core, an opportunity for teacher and students to sit down and talk about what is important to them. One week it may be important to discuss how individuals and the community can prepare for upcoming achievement tests. The next week’s agenda might include planning for a holiday celebration or a big field trip. It might also include developing a plan to avoid problems that have been occurring during physical education. Another week, a scheduled planning item might be postponed to allow time for the community to help two students address an ongoing conflict.

The classroom community meeting provides students with a wonderful opportunity to apply the skills and processes they have learned to real-life situations. If you have taken the time to teach them how to be active listeners, they should be able to hear each other. If they have practiced taking turns in conversation, they will probably allow a speaker to finish his or her thought before offering theirs. If they are in the habit of making constructive “I” messages, honest communication should be possible. The best part of having taught these skills is that if communication does break down, you have something to fall back on, to remind students of, and, if necessary, to re-teach.

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Chapter 2: A Practitioner’s Guide to Understanding Human Behavior

Ambrose Panico Solution Tree Press ePub

Chapter 2

A Practitioner’s Guide to Understanding Human Behavior

The heart has its reasons which reason knows not of.

Blaise Pascal

Some theorists, such as B. F. Skinner, John B. Watson, and Edward Thorndike, maintain that all behavior is a function of the interaction between the behavior and the environment. These theorists reject the notion that behavior is influenced and possibly controlled by theoretical constructs (such as the mind, the self, and the individual will). This definition of behavior (put forward primarily by behaviorists) is extremely limiting to teachers, school psychologists, school social workers, speech pathologists, and building principals who are working with students capable of communicating through speech.

The practitioner is much better informed by the definition of behavior offered by social cognitive theorists such as Albert Bandura. His theory of reciprocal determinism is extremely informative to a practitioner interested in a better understanding of how their students’ behavior is formed and maintained (Bandura, 1974, 1977). In Bandura’s understanding, human behavior is “the result of reciprocal influences between the personal variables (internal) of the individual, the environment (external) in which the behavior occurs, and the behavior itself” (Kaplan, 2000, p. 3). These internal, personal variables include:

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