Prove Them Wrong: Be There for Secondary Students with an Emotional or Behavior Disability Ernest Solar, M.Ed. George Mason University 3rd Year Ph.D. Student Loudoun County Public Schools
Low Self-Efficacy & Students with EBD Students with EBD typically have low self-efficacy, which affects how they motivate themselves, their perseverance to face difficult situations, and causes them to quickly give up trying (Bandura, 2006). Negative behaviors that are exhibited by students with EBD often hinder academic and social success (Jackson & Owens, 1999).
Life Experiences & EBD • Students with EBD: • Have endured life experiences beyond their age • May have developed a different philosophical outlook on life different than their peers life experiences • May ask questions for which they want deeper answers for, not a dismissive answer to try to appease them • Expect teachers to be honest with them when they ask for advice • Do not expect teachers to fully understand their problems • Want their teacher to listen to them • However; • They have not mastered the tools on how to apply their new wisdom to everyday situations • They still need help in practicing their new coping techniques in safe environments, such as home and school, in order to continue to manage their feelings of anger, distrust, and abandonment.
Tools You Can Provide to the Student with EBD • Encourage the student to write or draw their feelings if you are not around • Let the student know that you could check in with them from time to time • Ask them the best way to interact with them • Provide them with a safe place to relax • Help them find ways to manage stress • Reinforce their positive choices
Safe Classroom “Teachers are aware of the importance of creating classroom environments that have structures in place that ensure the safety of students, promote positive behavior, and ensure the flow of classroom activities” to ensure the success of all students. (Murray and Pianta, 2007, p. 108) Maintaining a structured and consistent environment allows the student with EBD to feel safe, because they understand and know the guidelines and expectations of the teacher.
Ideas for the Classroom • Classroom set-up options: • Decorate the walls with posters and information with related curriculum content • Scatter the room with lamps • Bring in natural sunlight (if possible) • Use tables to encourage social interaction and collaboration among the students and teachers • Decorate the walls with pop culture posters and art • Display pictures of family, accomplishments, or hobbies • Activity options to develop trusting relationships between student/teacher: • Pictures of family, hobbies, or accomplishments give students with EBD an opportunity to ask questions to begin the development of a trusting relationship • Play Trading Card Games (Magic: The Gathering) • Play Board Games (Scrabble, Risk, Uno) • Puzzles • All of these activities help the student with EBD: • Develop trust in their teacher • Develop problem solving skills, teamwork skills, and social skills
Be There for them! “Teachers are the central and most powerful force in the lives of young people” (Murray & Pianta, 2007, p. 110). It is time to use that power to prove students with EBD wrong; do not give up on them. If you do not give up on them and you are consistent with them, they will excel for you, but more importantly they will remember you for the rest of their lives as one of the individuals who never quit on them.
Active Listening Skills with Students with EBD The goal of active listening is to create a clear understanding of the student’s spoken concern and to acknowledge an interest in the message being verbalized (McNaughton, Hamlin, McCarthy, Head-Reeves, & Schreiner, 2007). • Examples of active listening skills that can be used with students with EBD include: • Look and feel relaxed to give the student the feeling that they are not wasting your time • Show interest through your body language • Allow the student to talk • Be open-minded during the conversation • Try to understand the students feelings or point of view by asking specific questions • Observe the students body language • Repeat back what the student has shared with you to make sure you heard them correctly • Encourage and reinforce their positive behavior of confiding in you as a teacher
Examples of Active Listening Active Listening • Stopping all activities and focusing on the student. • Making eye contact with the student. • Looking and feeling relaxed as the student speaks with you. • Being open-minded and try to understand the student’s point of view. • Ask specific questions. • Repeat back what the student has shared with you to make sure you heard them correctly. • Encourage and reinforce the student’s positive behavior of confiding in you as a teacher, such as by saying “I appreciate your taking the time to talk with me about these important things to you.” Non-Active Listening • Multi-tasking – Trying to listen while performing another task. • Not making eye contact with the student. • Slouching or looking disinterested as the student speaks. • Closed off body language (i.e., arms across the chest or back turned to them). • Not asking questions. • Cutting the student off or not letting them finish speaking before making a comment. • Dismissing what the student has shared with you, such as by saying “I hear this all the time. You’ll be okay; I don’t know why you’d worry about something so silly.”
Enhance the Teacher-Student Relationship Classroom Structures and Practices • Clearly state routines • Defined rules and consequences • Peer tutoring • Cooperative Learning Teacher Beliefs, Behaviors, and Actions • High expectations for students achievement and behavior • Individual weekly meetings with students • Frequent positive feedback to the students Individual Skills for Developing Pro-social Relationships • Instruction in self-awareness and self-management skills • Teach social awareness when interacting with others • Promote responsible decision making in multiple settings Summary of Murray and Pianta’s Techniques of How a Teacher Can Enhance the Teacher-Student Relationship (Murray Pianta, 2007, p. 107)
Ten Tips in Managing a Student with EBD • Prioritize your tasks and make a list • Accept that you wear multiple hats throughout the day • Remember you are the adult • Do not be afraid of the student with EBD, they just need extra attention • Actively listen to the student with EBD • Keep training and reading • Be open to criticism • Do not challenge a student with EBD. They are acting that way for a reason • Develop firm boundaries and expectations and stick to them no matter how much they push you • Relax and breathe! You are a teacher for a reason