Innovation in education is for all children. Working with resistant, oppositional, non-compliant learners tests the mettle of teachers and administrators alike.
What is the answer?
Perhaps part of the answer is the implementation of Mass-Customized Learning as proposed by Beatrice McGarvey and Charles Schwan in their book Inevitable: Mass Customized Learning: Learning in the Age of Empowerment.
The last two months have found us broadening our definition of education where the learner is making choices as to how they would like to learn. We have created four (so far) paths: traditional, online, school-to-career, and goal-specific.
A traditional learning solution is selected when learning with a teacher is optimal.Goal-specific learning takes place with a learning coach and focuses on an area of need such as GED preparation.
An online learning solution is selected when the learner opts to take responsibility for their learning. Learners are supported by a learning coach at the school as well as the instructor of the online course.
Learners choosing School-to-Career work with a Life Coach in their community (part of the day) to acquire those skills and identify those opportunities that will help the learner transition into independent living upon graduation. With this option, learners select their preferred academic learning solution from the ones (so far) developed.
It’s really exciting for learners and teachers alike. In the coming year we will be working together as a community to create an innovative education system that will be able to meet the needs of our target population: socially and emotionally challenged learners.
“Reflection sharpens our self-awareness and helps us become more attentive.” This observation was part of an Advent/Lenten devotion written by Becky Horst of Goshen College.
One of the social/emotional competencies is the learning to be self-aware.
One of the skills that we teach all of the time is attentiveness or do we assume that our students just should be paying attention? Working with traumatized adolescents has taught me that attentiveness is more than just paying attention. Attentiveness is a state that comes with being able to self-regulate, to be able to understand and be able to moderate your emotions, to be able to interpret the world around you as safe, when it is; and risky, when there is danger. For our students, they have to feel safe enough so that the hyper-vigilance can be put on hold for awhile. You have to feel safe enough to be able to focus on the thing at hand. Since many of our adolescents come from environments that have contributed to them developing a hypersensitivity to danger, in other words, they are in “flight or fight” mode all the time, a key component of treatment becomes providing an environment that will help them do some of the work described above.
As a teacher of students that have engaged in one or more negative behaviors that have put them at risk, it’s no wonder then, that we come to understand that our students have missed out on some key concepts, developing a hole in the fabric of their content knowledge. When students are not paying attention to learning, do we make an effort to determine what they are paying attention to? When we recognize that our students have a “hole” in learning, what do we do? What can we do?
We often put a bandaid on the situation by providing some learning activity to help put the student back on track and fill the “hole.” But how do we address the more overarching problem of helping a student that has experienced trauma at some point in their life?
What activities do you think promote the development of attentiveness?
In working with court-involved young women ages 11 through 17, we find that all students that are identified as truant have significant reading and/or writing deficits. It’s a vicious cycle that they are trapped in–they go to school, don’t “get” what they are being taught, fall behind, can’t or won’t ask for help (that will be inadequate to solve the larger problem–their reading and/or writing deficit), so they stop going to school, they get in trouble (for not going to school and other things), they are ordered to go to school, and the whole cycle starts over again until they are “kicked out of school”. Since we are a residential school, we have purposed to develop a culture of reading and writing outside of the school day, whether it’s dialogue journals with counselors, reading for “pleasure” (30 minutes a night, every night), as well as staff and students sharing books and making recommendations about “good reads.” We find sometimes, students surprise themselves by awakening a reading and writing habit that they didn’t know they had.
All learning is relational. Learning only happens when student and teacher are locked in that mutuality of relationship and caring. Dr. Payne has incorporated many of the questions public school educators and administrators have about building relationship not only with those resistant learners, but with their parents who are often also under-resourced. Her latest book provides strategies not only for teachers but administrators also. Creating a learning community where all the constituents are working toward making sure each child is understood and where applicable realistic interventions are compassionately utilized to help families succeed at education for all of the children in the community. I think this is a must-read especially if you have a resistant or reluctant learner in your classroom.
o For each goal set the following questions should be asked:
• Goal: What outcome could you achieve by a specified date?
• Rationale: How does your stated goal relate to Self-Worth, Active Engagement, or Purpose?
• Action: What immediate, practical steps can you take toward your goal?
• Evidence: How will you know when you have achieved your goal?
• Performance goals captured from the following resources:
• MAPS: Set one RIT growth goal; review and set next goal at the testing term; send copy of goal to class teacher
o In the alternative: have the class teacher set one RIT goal with the student and have the student report the goal to the advisor and parents
• Literacy Skills:
• Math Skills:
• Disciplinary records
• Academic strengthening plan
• Independent work at home
• After school program
o Socially (Self-worth: Belonging, Heroes, and Sense of Accomplishment)
o Physically (Active Engagement: Fun & Excitement, Curiosity & Creativity, Spirit of Adventure)
o Personally (Purpose: Leadership & Responsibility, Confidence to Take Action)
Here is a list of my recent teacher book finds. Managing Your Classroom with Heart: A Guide for Nurturing Adolescent Learner by Katy Ridnouer Schooling by Design: Mission, Action, and Achievement by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe The Well-Managed Classroom, 2nd edition by Michele Hensley, et. al. Tools for Teaching Social Skills in School by Michele Hensley, et. al.
What are some of your recent finds?