When students push, give them a hug.
The first day I met Jon, he entered my class followed by one of the school’s many Crisis Interventions. After exchanging some words, it appeared that Jon had not followed an instruction that he was given. The Crisis Interventionist was clearly angry, and Jon was clearly not. And most obvious to me was that Jon was in control of the entire situation. He made the situation go the way he wanted. I respected him for that. I saw the leader in him. I also saw the challenge of fostering the POSITIVE leader in him.
Over the next few months, Jon and I fostered a strong relationship. He was a positive leader in our classroom community. I made sure to allow him to always feel safe and in control when he could be. But then, one day, everything changed. He walked into class, told me he hated me, and then, proceeded to do everything in his power to show me how much he hated me.
Jon had been diagnosed with something called Reactive Attachment Disorder or RAD, as it’s known.
RAD is a condition characterized by markedly disturbed and developmentally inappropriate ways of relating socially in most contexts
When a baby is repeatedly comforted and cared for, an attachment forms with the caregivers. Baby’s who have their needs met learn to love and trust others, develop healthy relationships, regulate emotional responses to situations, be aware of others’ emotions and needs, and have a positive self-image.
On the other hand, when a baby experiences abuse and neglect at the hands of caregivers, attachments do not form. Failure to establish these expected bonds negatively impacts children, leading to possible depression, irritability, and mistrust and/or fear of trusting adults or peers.
Repeated abuse and neglect can leave children at-risk for RAD.
The signs and symptoms of RAD include the following…
-Failure to reach out when picked up or interest in peek-a-boo
-Unexplained withdrawal, fear, sadness or irritability
-Sad and listless appearance
-Not seeking comfort or showing no response when comfort is given
-Failure to smile
-Watching others closely but not engaging in social interaction
-Failing to ask for support or assistance
But RAD is a rare disorder. The majority of children who experience repeated abuse and neglect, including those that have been bounced around to multiple caregivers and experienced abuse and neglect with each, do not develop RAD.
Wait! What?! How is it rare when I can think of at least 3 students in my classroom that exhibit these symptoms?!
Modern-day students make this disorder feel like the norm, right?!
Some of our students have been hurt and let down by adults in the past. When something happens to someone over and over, it becomes an expected behavior. So instead of being let down by another adult who you have started to care about, why not push them away? Isn't that easier? Then, that adult can't hurt you. That adult can let you down like all of the others have.
Not only did Jon state in front of the whole class how much he hated me, he also continued to tell them why he hated me, including my stupidity and ugly appearance in his tirade. He refused to participate in morning meeting, getting two others to follow his choice after explaining how boring morning meeting is. During reading, he broke the picture of my puppy on my desk and twenty minutes later, threw a chair at me. And at the end of the day, I told him that I didn’t know what I had done to upset him, but I couldn’t change unless he told me. I also told him that I cared for him, I didn’t like to see him this upset, and tomorrow is a new day!
The next day he came in and quietly observed the class for the day, never once speaking to me.
At the end of the day, I told him that I was happy to see that he seemed less angry, but I missed the old Jon. Tomorrow would be a new day.
After that, Jon acted as if those two days never happened. He did push again at times, but never so intensely.
Trauma leaves an impact. No matter the trauma, a person’s brain is essentially altered in terms of thinking, emotional regulation, and response to fears.
So when a student pushes you away, don't let them. Instead, let them know that you are not like the other adults who have let them down in the past. Let them know that you are not going anywhere. They aren't going to be able to push you away - just give it up, kid
When students push, give them a hug.
By: Miss Rae
Band-aids are great right?! I mean hey - we're stuck on band-aids and band-aids get stuck on us. But that is exactly what they do. They stick on tiny cuts that have barely broken the skin. The real cuts need real help. And the same goes for school systems. A system built on band-aids isn't strong and won't last.
Band-aids don't make school problems all better!
Band-aids are meant to be temporary solutions and too many of today's schools are using band-aids to fix their problems. These aren't going to last. They are short-term solutions, and short-term solutions jeopardize any change efforts!
They do save time and money, though. And just like band-aids, they are quick fixes.
Schools need long-term solutions! Long-term solutions represent hope and knowledge, in that they are systemic, occurring over a long period of time. Long-term solutions provide tools for assistance for a broader depth of knowledge, addressing complex causes of serious problems. This leads to better understandings, communication, and problem solving.
Our schools need...
-robust meaningful current curriculums that are ever-evolving without the cost of continually having to purchase them
-continuous and supportive professional development focused on creating highly trained and skilled educators
-strong interventions for ALL students
-embedded social emotional learning
-respect and empathy for educators, students, and families
So let’s find the long-term solutions for these needs! Let’s reshape American education for the better with long-term solutions for long-term change and success!
By Miss Rae
About 4 percent of girls in the U.S. dropped out of school in 2016. While this number may not seem alarming, its repercussions are!
Educated women increase a country’s economy. Research has proven that by failing to educate girls, some countries lose more than $1 billion annually.
Research has also proven why students dropout of school. Many of their reasons are factors located within our schools
But what we don’t know is specifically why our girls are dropping out of school.
And why don’t we know this?
Because what there hasn’t been much research on is why our GIRLS are dropping out of school!
They say girls run the world so let’s tell them what we need to keep our girls from becoming dropouts!
Most schools have comprehensive plans to address crisis behaviors and bullying, but do these plans even consider that female students have different needs? Do these plans include targeted interventions for our girls? Do these plans address sexual harassment and rape?
Kudos to those who do!
Equal opportunity is a right for ALL, and ALL should be included in our schools!
And like ALL students...
Our girls need to feel safe in school.
Girl bullying has its own rules. Exclusion, rumors, gossip, verbal and written harassment, and rallying others to participate in the exclusion are just a few of the tactics that girls possess.
Boys tend to be bullied physically while our girls are excluded differently. Girls will share their friends secrets to purposely embarrass her. The next step in hurting another girl is to get others to join in your jealousy of your former friend and begin making mean comments about her clothes or looks. Finally, the former friend is ostracized into isolation.
Boys tend to mostly by only other boys while girls are bullied by other girls and boys. And research has shown that girls are more likely than boys to be bullied on school property.
So our schools are in need of some anti-discrimination and social emotional learning policies and curriculums. Policies and student and staff learning should include an understanding around students who become pregnant. Schools can include Title IX coordinators in their budgets to help adopt, teach, and enforce these procedures and teachings.
Girls tend to bully as a means to gain attention or control due to feelings of jealousy or a lack of importance or self-esteem. By fostering meaningful relationships with others, including peers, mentoring adults, and advisory, our girls can improve their self-confidence and empathy.
Our girls need these relationships to become stronger women!
“If you educate a man, you educate an individual. But if you educate a woman, you educate a nation.”
Empower our girls, giving them a voice to use to change the world!
By supporting our girls’ success in typically male dominated career and technical education courses, we are engaging them in an education and providing them with a future! The girls who are successful in these programs will have gained a stronger self-image as a result!
But how do we empower the rest of our girls?
Our girls need strong female role models! And our strong female teaching staff are the perfect solution! So, model and mentor away, ladies! But let’s make sure our ladies have the support for this too. Schools should train their staff on modeling and mentoring students.
Our curriculum should include strong female characters from present-day, history, and our best fictional works! Schools can create teams to ensure a strong female presence curriculum (vertically aligned ofcourse).
By giving our girls a voice, we help them stand up for themselves, give them confidence, and teach them to ask questions to grow and learn!
A voice also helps them say, “no” when they need to!
Schools need to teach our girls how to prevent teen pregnancy!
Pregnancy is the major reason for our girl dropouts. Thirty percent of girls who dropout cite pregnancy as the reason. But research has proven that the higher the level of education a girl has, the less likely they are to get pregnant at a young age. Therefore, schools must have comprehensive and quality sex ed programs and keep our girls in school!
Let’s face a reality, though, for a moment - despite our best efforts, there are many things that are out of our control so a student may become pregnant. And we still need to support our pregnant girls. Schools can assist students with social service engagement, provide child care (add an early childhood curriculum that doubles as daycare), and offer alternative schooling options and individualized graduation plans.
Schools can partner with social service agencies as well to offer classes in parenting skills, prenatal care, and child development.
Teen pregnancies can also result from social issues.
Address our girls’ silent behaviors!
Since our boys tend to be our ACTING OUT behavior problems, their problems get noticed. Our girls, on the other hand, exhibit silent behaviors.
Girls tend to express themselves through absenteeism. Schools can utilize data tracking systems to track attendance and address it early. Students at-risk for dropping out can be identified sooner and interventions can be implemented sooner!
Absenteeism can lead to academic problems and academic problems can lead to absenteeism. Much like the chicken or the egg debate, the point is moot. But the solution is simple - we need to engage our girls in school! Personalize the environment and instructional process for our girls. This can be done through accommodations, academic support, and enrichment.
Tutoring is one method of providing academic support or enrichment. And get more bang for your buck - tutors can be mentors too!
Mentors (peer or staff) act as advocates and targeted interventions for your at-risk female dropouts. Staff mentors should focus on engaging parents, advocating for students, and addressing academic and social barriers for students.
Mentors can also ensure that girls have equal opportunities to participate in sports and girl teams are treated equitably. And sports keep kids in school!
Alternative schooling options keep our girls in school!
-Career and technical education
A girl with an extra year of education earns 20 percent more! So stay in school and let’s go takeover the world, girls!
By: Miss Rae
National Center for Education Statistics, Current Population Survey (CPS), 2016