Parenting or teaching a child with emotional and behavioral deficits can be challenging on many levels. What 3 essentials skills (or group of skills) are necessary to be an effective parent or teacher of students with emotional behavior disorders?
Response journals can be a great way to get your students to write. Many of the students I support display avoidance behaviors when writing tasks are assigned to them. One recommendation I often make to my teachers is to use response journaling.
Using a journal you engage in continuous dialogue with the student using writing. You can engage them in topics of their liking while still prompting them to expand of topics of your choosing at the same time. Over time you can shape their writing skills with corrective feedback. Using the same language they choose in their writing, for example, I would respond to this using some of the same words (spelled correctly and highlighted in a different color so the word stands out visually.
As I stated earlier, the conversation continues as long as you maintain it. When a student returns the journal you simply respond. All of the students I work with look forward to my responses and then responding in turn. They often let me know if I’ve gotten behind. Even some of my most ardent writing protesters willingly chose to write in their response journals. Here are some sample response journal prompts:
Write a brief story and ask the student to finish it.
Ask about what they like to do most.
What social skill do you like the most? What social skill do you hate the most?
What is your favorite emotion? Which is your least favorite emotion?
What do think about the last homework assignment I gave you?
Write a compliment about the student.
This is also a good activity for parents to do this at home. Think of it as a fun way to talk and be creative with your kids. Whether at home or in school, response journals are a great way to keep in touch with the social emotional needs of your kids while teaching and modeling an important lifelong skill.
Teachers in behavior support classroom must make efforts every day to teach the students that although they can come to us for support, they belong with their peers. This expectation of belonging all starts with how we set up the environment. A good support classroom for EBD students will emulate a general education classroom as much as possible.
Pictured here is of one of the classrooms I support. The desks are arranged in a fashion that is similar to the general education classes on campus. Originally this room had desks set up in individual “offices” along the edges of the classroom. Likewise, rules and procedures mimic what is expected of students in “mainstream” classes. You might also notice the smartboard projector; there is no reason students should not be exposed and allowed access the to technology. In the year and half since installment we have had 0 incidents involving technology usage in our classrooms. I should have taken a before and after, instead I only have an after.
I believe that sometimes in our quest to individualize we go to the extreme. Unfortunately when a classroom is completely individualized, there is no progress towards “normalizing”. For me the first step towards teaching students how to belong begins with the environment.