This past week the three adults who work in this program - I'm including myself here - went to a training on working with students with difficult behavior. It's a good training led by a guy who knows what's up. However, it occurred to me that our students have become far too dependent on us. Generally, with my returning students, there are few behavior issues of note. But while we were gone, some of them regressed to pre-us behavior. This not good but not because they're supposed to behave dammit! but because, obviously, we're not always going to be around. In fact, the most dependent students are the ones that are going to high school next year where they won't be able to access nearly the same level of support as they do here because the high school program - and specifically the guy who runs it - sucks.
So the other day we made a T chart of all the things that went well yesterday and all the things that didn't go well. Then the students took turns coming to the board and circling in green what would have happened if we had been here and circling in red what wouldn't happened. And we talked about that for a bit. Then we listed a bunch of ways they're currently counting on us in order for them to be successful. The list had items like, "remind me to stay on-task," "tell me to get to class on time," "get me started on my homework," etc. Each student then chose one item that he thought he could begin trying to do alone. So, among others, I'm expecting Headache to turn in his own work and RB to attempt his homework without prompting. We'll see.
Monday I'm out again to learn about changes in the IEP and how to write IEPs that are compliant with the district's interpretation of the state's interpretation of the federal department of education's updated interpretation of IDEIA 2004. I expect that Tuesday we'll do the T chart. Today I will remind them of what happened and what they can do to avoid it happening again.
The worst thing I can think of is making these students overly dependent on help because not only will they most likely fail in its sudden absence but they'll also feel abandoned. Moving toward greater independence is going to be a major theme this year.