Thursday, May 12, 2016

Social Situations for "our kids"

This should be short... I hope.  We talked for a minute on #delachat about how to help students in social situations, like bullying, teasing, or just being uncomfortable.  This is my life as an admin.  I am going to draw on 11 years of experience, 8 at a Middle School, which was great, and had many challenging situations.

What do you do for those students that are struggling with bullying, teasing, or just not liking school?

I learned quickly that students needed to be heard, understood, and then relationships are automatically built.  That part was easy, but how to help them?  That is question.  How could I help them to be empowered to deal with some of these situations on their own without running to me or their teacher?

I began to practice the skill of dealing with their peers.  This is a skill you need to learn.

I would and still now, be that difficult peer, they could practice with me, in a private situation, sometimes even cussing at me.  All was good as it made it more real to them.  My kids have always and I think always will trust me.

I have been doing this in elementary school as well, but with a slightly different approach.  It is pretty simple, here is my basic approach.

  1. I ask them what bothers them the most?
  2. They tell me.
  3. I ask them if it is okay if I use that against them in my office.
  4. They usually say "yes"
  5. I ask them if I can record or show their reaction by imitating them? And tell them I will show them and them only, then I will erase it forever.
  6. They usually agree.
  7. I then say that horrible thing to them.
  8. They react, usually not totally authentic, but I might push a little, again the trust is already built.
  9. I show them their reaction.
  10. I flip it, tell them to record me, then they say to me the same thing.
  11. We watch my reaction, as I have a bunch of reactions I model for them. 
  12. We then practice over and over again.  I then send them back to class, telling them, it will not fix anything immediately, but over time it will work.
  13. I then check in with them in the weeks to come to see how it is going.  This usually looks like grabbing them quick, or stopping by their class to whisper a "how is it working?" in their ear.
  14. They either acknowledge it is working or not, if not we go back to practice.
I think it is that simple.  Empower them with some tools, then support by checking in. They know I got their back, empower them to be their own advocate. 

There is obviously a little more than the 14 steps I listed, but I wanted to put this out as a starting point for others to get past just the listening and reacting, to practice and modeling for students.  

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