Some thoughts and take-aways from Brian Mendler’s session at the ASCD Empower conference:
*In school and out of school suspensions – Kids with problems don’t mind suspensions. It gets them out of class. Many times they would rather be out of class. These kids need to be in class more than anybody else.
*Be careful of labeling – kids start to believe the label. Kids want to fit in. Tier one, tier two, tier three have become labels for students. Do we ever tell low kids how great they are?
*How hard is it for students to get out of special education? Is a goal of special education to get them out of the program?
*When kids have no hope, they just don’t care about things like school. One of the best strategies for helping struggling students is to give them hope. Listen to their stories with no expectations. Hear their experiences.
*One teacher can change a child’s life.
*Avoid comparing siblings – they are different, expect that.
*When a person begins a recovery program, sometimes they do not want to face their problems. We cannot allow them to make excuses. We need people who say, “Get up!”
*Change your nouns to change your life. When you have “lost” kids, start with nouns. Work on changing people, places, and things.
*When a child acts out, feel sad instead of mad. Be a second to last word person, you don’t need to have the last word. Sometimes it is better to just “walk away.” Use questions instead of statements. DON’T TAKE THINGS PERSONALLY. Stay personally connected without taking personally what a child may do or say. Hear what kids are saying not HOW they are saying it. DO NOT GET OFFENDED!
*Take content and bring it into the kids’ world. Use content from THEIR world. Many “tough” kids love poetry. Don’t be afraid to use content like rapper poems. Use “teachable” moments.
*PBIS is not always the answer to helping “tough” kids.
*When working with an “oppositional defiant” child – USE QUESTIONS!”
*Relationships are everything.