Friday, September 26, 2008

My first one

This week I had to restrain a child for the first time. I had come to the school to observe him and some other students who were running out of the building. While I was there he kicked and hit his teachers, threw various objects while laughing and tried to run out of the building several times. This is an unhappy kid. At one point the staff could not seem to get him into his classroom as he kept heading for the outside doors and they didn't seem to want to use a restraint or were unsure if it was OK. He was hurting people and trying to run out of the building and after 30 minutes of trying to calm him down I felt like I had no other choice. As soon as I had him restrained he totally calmed down. I asked him if he was calm and he said yes. The principal asked if he wanted to use the blocks in his room and he said yes. I told him I would let him go if he promised to walk to his room with me while holding my hand the whole time. He said OK. So I left go (this was maybe 3 minutes later) and we walked to his room. He went in and played happily with blocks. For a little while anyway.
I was happy to have not had to struggle with him and also that it was brief. I wish the little guy was happier though. We spent about 2 hours working on recommendations for his team today. It will be a little while before things really turn around for him though because the school year has started off so poorly for him and he's got a lot of unmet needs. I imagine he completely hates school.
It was a scary and intense experience for me. I can only imagine what it's like for him.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Other Shoe Drops

This past Monday I had to give two presentations in front of about half of the special education teachers, speech language pathologists, school psychs, and related service providers in my district. One was on what we're screwing up as a district in terms of discipline and one was on fading adult assistance so students become more independent.
My presentation was 2nd following the boss's overview of the year to come. As I was setting up beforehand I noticed that the heal of my right shoe was coming loose. I really hoped it would last the day. It last about 20 more minutes. So the boss introduces me and I walk up with one intact shoe and one without a heal- which you couldn't really notice unless you looked. Though the supporting strip of metal clicked when I walked like I was wearing tap shoes. Bummer.
During their lunch time the participants were supposed to read an article to set them up for my 2nd presentation immediately following lunch. I passed out the article and pretty soon I heard from them that it only contained every other page. I had copied it wrong. Well, lunch, which was provided, hadn't arrived anyway so someone else did their presentation and I ran out to make copies. I stopped at Target and bought a $14 pair of shoes. They were the only ones made of all "man made materials" (I don't wear leather). Then I drove back to the office (only 3 miles away) to make copies. At copy #30 of 40, the copy machine died. One of the secretaries was able to fix it so I could squeeze 10 more copies out of it and then I raced back to the site.
Fortunately, lunch was very late so they still had time to read the article. Midway through the article I realize I hadn't copied another form (with a scenario and work space) they were going to use for an activity at the end of my presentation. I had to read the scenario to them and ask them to write up their ideas on the back of a piece of paper. Good one, me.
In general it wasn't as bad as it sounds. The presentations went well anyway and no one noticed the shoe. I have to give the same two presentations this coming Monday. I plan on making sure the soles of my shoes are on tight ahead of time.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Stress Differences

Yesterday I figured out the difference in the types of stress I dealt with last year as a behavior classroom teacher and this year as a behavior consultant. As a teacher, the stress came from students who were melting down. When this was happening I was trying to prevent a student from hurting himself or others. There's a level of trauma that's associated with this type of stress. With my new job I have a million things on my plate at once and it's really quite stressful. But the stress comes from, for instance, having to get a presentation done in two days that was assigned yesterday. That's stressful but no one's safety is on the line. I guess that's what I often thought of when people would tell me about their stressful office jobs during the past 8 years. And now I have an office job.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008


In my new job I go to a lot of meetings. As a teacher, you don't have time for meetings because you're with students all day. Now though, I go to 3-5 meetings daily. Fun times.
One of today's meetings was about a student who attacks his teacher from time to time. It seems as though he gets really angry when he's got to give up an object he has fixated on. If you take it from him- watch out. You can see how his teacher would feel pretty done with him. However, it seems that with some more training (on the part of the teacher) we can keep this kid in a regular school. I imagine this school year will entail a lot of meetings at which I hear about some intense behaviors and then try to figure out how to keep the student in school.
Also, you get to observe other folks pretty carefully when you're the outsider because you spend most the time listening. The parent in this meeting was really nice and wanted to work with the teacher but she was also tense and had a slight undercurrent of wanting it her way. The teacher was definitely feeling put upon and resigned but came around some toward the end. It's was interesting to watch them dance around each other a little as they tried to figure out what each one was going to give and how to avoid blaming and being blamed.
Eight more meetings scheduled for the rest of this week.