Topics in Early Childhood Education

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Never Give Up!

I ran a half-marathon yesterday and was suffering the last few miles. I had purchased running shoes which had been 'fitted by experts' that did not provide the support that I needed to run 13 miles. I broke my foot in a car accident in 1996 and that old injury came back yesterday at about mile 9 because the shoes I was wearing did not provide enough cushion to run that distance. I regularly considered stopping to walk, even though I knew that I was running a very fast race (for me). I tried running with my foot at a different angle, lengthening my stride, shortening my stride, running on a different part of my foot, etc., until I finally found a way to make the discomfort bearable. I finished the race well ahead of my usual running time.

I was thinking about this yesterday, as I was trying to recover, and I thought of the number of classrooms I had been in this year that experienced discomfort, gave up and started to walk. I know that we have very challenging behavior issues today in our school classrooms. However, I do get frustrated when I see the teacher has 'given up' because 'nothing works.' It is my belief that a teacher should never 'give up' on helping a child achieve acceptable behavior in the classroom. The teacher needs to try difference angles, maybe lengthen or shorten the stride of what is happening. But, continuing to do the same unsuccessful intervention is fruitless and may lead to reinforcing the negative behavior. If I choose to run another race in the very same shoes I used yesterday, the same thing will occur and will probably eventually lead to an injury or weakness. Why do some teachers think that if they continue to use an intervention that does not work, it will eventually work (the big culprit here is 'time out')?

My student teachers this last year will tell you that I continually reminded them that they might have to try 20 intervention ideas before they find something that works for a child that is disruptive. When a teachers tells me that 'nothing works,' I tend to think that she just doesn't want the child to comply bad enough. If the teacher did, she would continually be trying new things or looking for additional resources.

I'm glad I persevered enough and found a way to make it to the finish line yesterday. It wasn't easy, but at the finish line it certainly was rewarding. Helping a child curtail disruptive behavior isn't easy, but it can provide long-lasting rewards.



At 1:05 AM, Blogger Marta said...

Great post John,
"Why do some teachers think that if they continue to use an intervention that does not work, it will eventually work (the big culprit here is 'time out')?

It came to my mind a well known quote of Einstein- Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

In my school experience from Poland and also from US, I saw, that teachers tought students certain way and they sticked to that. They didn't try to find a way to get to the student who had difficulties or disinterest in the subject. But this is my experience and of course all teachers are not like that.
I'm a parent/teacher of early learning of a toddler name Eaton. I spend 24 hours with my son and even though I am with him all the time there are times difficult to get to him, to get him interested in some subjects. For a school teacher having many students in a class, it is a challenge to teach them all using one approach only. There will always be someone staying behind. Trying different approaches takes time especially for a teacher who see the student only an hour a day or so. So I give a HUGE credit to all teachers that try and try...Results can be rewarding, that's for sure.

I really like your posts John,
Have a great week!

At 7:55 AM, Anonymous Brandi Reeter said...

This reminds me of a student that I worked with for 2 years that had very bad behavior issues. The staff and I put together a Social Emotional Support Plan to help us help him. All staff included site supervisor, behavior specialist, mental health consultant, teacher, teacher assistant, bus driver and monitor. The parent was also included. After coming up with a plan we continued to have the behavior. We continued to work and change things to see if something new would work. It was to no avail, we were right back to were we started. However, it was interesting to see how his behavior did progress in small ways, and how new behaviors,some more frustrating, had replaced behaviors that did disappear.

At 9:36 PM, Anonymous Colleen said...

I also think this speaks to the importance of having professionals who are working with young children having a background in early childhood education and child development. When we know what we can expect children to be like, we can have realistic expectations for them. That will lead to appropriate interventions when we need to try something different for challenging behaviors.

At 5:56 PM, Blogger lexball430 said...

This topic is right on target to what I am currently experiencing in my classroom of early three year olds. I have a child who has challenging and aggressive behavior I have been working with him since November of last year until now. For the first few months I was able to see his behavior get progressively better until about March of this year my director made some changes in my classroom ratio I went from having 10 children by myself to having 20 children and an assistant teacher who did not have any child development background. I began to see this students behavior get progressively worst he began to be more disruptive, aggressive, and even violent towards the children in the classroom and the teachers. I reached out to my director as well as got his parent involved. It was until now that we got a mental health specialist to come and do an observation on the child. She concluded that when we begin an intervention response that we must stick with it, becasue it tasks at least 30 days to develop a habbit and even after that 30 days is over you can expect that the child's behavior can get progressivly worst before it gets better. Of course she also talked about being consistant with the intervention techniques you are using. So in essence this mental health specialist believes that you should continue to use an intervention method even if it seems that its not working because it takes consistancy.

At 6:35 AM, Blogger Cat Ray said...

Awesome post. It has been so hard to find early childhood development program lately.

At 10:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi John, I really enjoyed this post.
I feel like every teacher at some point feels a sense of hopelessness, but being an excellent teacher means not letting that hopelessness get in the way of teaching students. There is never just one way to teach students and it is a teacher's job to figure out the best possible way to teach a child until they understand.
I'm currently reading a book "What Keeps Teachers Going?" I feel like this is great for any teacher who feels that sense of hopelessness.

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