By Megan Madlena
“I’ve come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in my classroom. It is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather…in all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child humanized or de-humanized.” - Haim Ginott, School Teacher and Child Psychologist
A Proactive Approach to Student Misbehavior-Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)
Trauma impacted students in high poverty classrooms require highly skilled educators ready and willing to respond.
Key: Students with high ACES live in fight or flight mode, it is our job to recognize this and respond (early, calmly and consistently).
Understanding ACES means changing our frame of reference from asking a student, “What’s wrong with you?” to trying to understand the broader perspective of, “What happened to you in your life that is causing this escalation?” By expanding our view of our role in this system of positive behavior intervention we can respond to student’s misbehavior with High Support and unconditional regard for what they need.
Our response determines our outcome
At Step Up 2 Success, why do we believe in Low Intensity Prevention, Early Stage Interventions and De-escalation Strategies? Because when kids win, we all win! When we develop High Structure combined with High Support, we can build our educational systems and set up students and staff for High Success. Recognizing we cannot control behavior or escalations, we work to build programs geared for prevention with systems that create collaborative structure and a culture that adopts best practices which expand our ability to be effective.
What do we do when students don’t respond?
First, we must understand that there are multiple causes for student misbehavior. Whenever a situation escalates we want to ensure that we constantly remind ourselves to respond in three key ways – early, calmly, and consistently.
As part of our overall vision we want to develop proactive strategies that will empower teachers. These strategies will:
In the heat of the moment when a student is escalated, especially when there is a violent, vulgar or vociferous escalations that disrupt instruction, it is difficult to remember these principles. Yet, it is in exactly these moments that we need to be engaged with our vision for positive student intervention. We invest in building High Structure to attempt to prevent misbehavior. We invest in High Support, so we can collaboratively respond to situations where interventions are necessary. We continually learn and grow our capacity so that we can strive for High Success.
We respond to misbehavior proactively because social justice demands equity in a system that serves all. Public education is the great equalizer. We serve, teach, support and love all. All means all. All students, regardless of experience, circumstance, or behavior deserve success. Proactive behavior responses create equity for students who need school the most. We have an important role to play in helping the under-served feel supported in an equitable system – we humanize those who may be perceived as difficult. We create equity with our response. We make the weather.
Step Up 2 Success (SU2S) contributors include Megan Madlena, Kelsey Isaacson, Jon Isaacson and others. Contact us to contribute relevant content to SU2S at Home.
Site managed by IZ Ventures