Ainslie Hunter is the creator of Study Skills Mentor. She can make you smarter. This guest post should be particularly helpful for anyone, but I think there are takeaways for everyone. Enjoy!
Have you ever come across an aggressive child in your classroom?
Have you witnessed the aftermath from a student so mad at the world that he looks like a lion in a cage?
I have. He was 8. And he was in Jan’s class.
When I arrived at the class a boy was hiding under a table, snorting. The room was strewn with Lego and another box was ready to be pegged at any intruder. Jan was at her desk, hunched over.
Sometimes the best laid plans don’t work
This class had it all. Trust me! Jan was a dynamic teacher. The teacher everyone wanted. Firm but fair, with such joy in everything she did. Jan did everything a great teacher would do in regards to behaviour: modelled care and dignity, rules and consequences and positive classroom management strategies.
Lunch was about to finish. 24 eight year olds were starting to line up. These kids had witnessed the violent act. They needed Ms J, an ordered classroom and time to discuss the incident. This was not the time to be judging the student or the child, or think about consequences.
So here is what I did:
- Sat with Jan and listened.
- Gave Jan the power to leave. She thought she needed stay. Wanted desperately to know the key to helping the child. She was scared but didn’t waver. But she needed to go and look after herself.
- Sat with child. It took 10 minutes to get close to him. I didn’t engage. I just kept saying “You pick up 5 blocks, I pick up 5 blocks.” We finally picked up all the blocks.
- Choice: Office, my classroom or library.
- Safe Ground: At the library he was given paper to make aeroplanes.
- I looked and listened and waited for the calm. It came. And then we talked.
“At the Center of non-violence stands the principle of Love” (Martin Luther King)
On the 18th January we celebrateded Martin Luther King’s Birthday. It was a day where we could reflect on his life and honor his teachings. Dr King said that there were 3 ways to face oppression and I think they also apply to dealing with difficult children.
1. Do nothing, be defeated.
2. Be violent and full of hate.
3. Active, Nonviolent Resistance.
Jan did not wipe her hands of that child. She did not take him on with useless threats cast through anger. She actively protected her class, herself and her child. She stayed until further help arrived.
And for the rest of the year Jan supported that boy with grace. There were good and bad days. But less bad days.
Behavior Management is difficult, especially when dealing with physically aggressive students. But it is also simple when you realize that the foundation of real behavior management is … LOVE.
How do you show love to even the most difficult people?
About The Author:
Please visit Ainslie Hunter at Study Skills Mentor where she writes about “The things you need to know.”
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