Saturday, August 20, 2016

When Students Won't Transition Back With The Class

How to get students to transition back to class after dysregulation

In last week's post , I asked if the emotional needs of your students are taking away from your instructional time. And WOAH!  Sooo many of you reached out to me on social media to share your stories.
I shared how I use this guy..
How to a classroom pet to help student self-regulate.
in my classroom as our class pet to help my students self-regulate and relax.

He has become a trusted friend and companion. He is read to, petted, walked and very well-loved.  He has built a community of trust, love, and companionship in our classroom family.

Charlie, as we call him, when he's not being held or begging for someone's snack or read to, sleeps in his dog bed in our classroom library.  This is also a part of our classroom that a student may use if they need to in order to self-regulate. 

Over the years, I have seen an increase in anxiety in my students (both diagnosed and undiagnosed). So much so, that it has taken away valuable instructional time away. 

Having a small area of the classroom with a "therapy dog", which to us is what Charlie is,in every sense of the word, has changed my teaching practices and my classroom management forever and I will never, ever turn back.

Click on the pictures to go to the original posts to  learn more....

How to a classroom pet to help student self-regulate.
Charlie has with him some calming tools and techniques to help those that need it.  Here's an example:

Strategies to help students self regulate in the classroom.

Strategies to help students self regulate in the classroom.

I have been asked some questions about using a classroom pet in the classroom...

"So what happens when a student goes to use the area?  Do you limit the time?

Answer:  I set a timer for 10 minutes. I use a timer like this

this way the student can see how much time they have left and there are no surprises. You can find this timer on Amazon.

"What happens when they don't want to leave after the timer goes off?"

Answer: This is not really a negotiable for me.  One trick that works really well is that even if I have to switch up a lesson I am currently in the middle of to make it a bit more engaging or fun I will do it to make it more appealing to the friend using the take a break area. I give the child the verbal warning if he/she does not heed the timer, then I walk away and return to the class.  I am not entirely changing my lesson for this one student, but if I add it a catchy tune, pop in Brainpop Jr. that correlates with the lesson at hand, send the students to to the table to "draw their thinking", etc, send them to their table with a piece of playdough to mold, or sculpt the word we are blending, etc that fits into the lesson. Basically, whatever may be motivational to the student that is not entirely taking my lesson completely off task that would be beneficial to the remainder of the class anyways....I'll do it. 

"I can't think on my feet that quick. Any other suggestions?"

Answer: I walk around with an apron that I bought off Amazon. You can find it here and I'm in love with it.  I keep pens, pencils, paper clips, sharpies, post its, band name it in it.  I don't have to make 4.5 million trips to my desk. Because I KNOW you know what I mean! 

I also keep a good handful of brag tags/badges in here.  Let me just tell you...

Do you use you brag tags?

Life changing, people!  Life changing! Who would have thought that these little pieces of paper could rock the worlds of these little darlings? BUT....they do!

So if you reach into the trusty apron and you start passing out badges for those that are showing on-task behavior and start issuing out some verbal praise as you do it ... "Oh Sarah, I just love how you are sitting so responsibly at the table."  Sitting at the table responsibly is a reasonable goal. Even Johnny who is in the take a break area is capable of sitting at the table responsibly. Notice how I didn't say "Oh Sarah, you have written a wonderful paper here."  Perhaps Johnny's behavior was triggered by academic failure. If so, the goal is to get him back to the table, and THEN he can be supported appropriately, but he can't be supported academically when he is in the take a break area. That was a brief calm down time. Now it's time to get to work.

"What if a student needs longer than 10 minutes?"

Answer: This is a great question and it very well could be a need. I think you need to use your discretion on this one. It varies from student to student. I highly recommend 10 minutes being the goal with gradual transition back to the task at hand if the student is having trouble returning. Some ways that you can do that are to encourage the student to participate in what the class is doing but perhaps in their own spot. If you use flexible seating in your classroom, this student may keep themselves fairly segregated as they continue to learn to regulate. If you don't use flexible seating, consider transitioning the student out of the take a break area and into a defined working space that is still separate if needed.

"Are there consequences? This seems like a reward."

Answer:  Fair isn't everyone getting the same thing. Fair is everyone getting what they need to be successful. In our classroom, this option is open to everyone. I do ask students to complete some kind of reflection sheet so that there is some self-awareness and learning to be had from the experience.

Can more than one student use the Peaceful Pet Place at a time?

Answer: No.  In order for a student to effectively have calm time they need the area to themselves.

Is the area just for when students are NOT doing the right thing?

Answer: Absolutely not! In fact, I can't believe I forgot to mention this....Charlie gets lots of visits from friends who are eager to read to hear, tell him about their weekend, tell him about their lost tooth and more.  Many students write him letters. They leave the letters in his mailbox.  Yes, Charlie has a mailbox.

"Since the Peaceful Pet Place is in your Library area, what do you do if a student needs to use that area but other students are using it as a library?"

Answer: This is another great question!  Luckily, since Charlie is stuffed (sshh, don't tell) he and his dog bed are very light. I can move him and his dog bed and the bin holding his toys and calming supplies very easily to another quiet location in the room. In fact, I have done that as needed. This also lets the student know we will not allow their off task behavior to create a class wide disruption.  We are hard at work and busy learning. 

When I thought about how much having a dog has changed my life and the life of my 3 special needs boys in my home....

I knew I had to have a dog in my classroom too. Charlie is in every way, a real dog to us. And we treat him that way in Room D156. We love him very much and I suspect...he loves us too....

Life is good.

Pin for Later:

An informative & helpful blog post for kindergarten, first, second, third, fourth grade classroom teachers. When students become dysregulated and need a quiet space in the classroom or need to transtion out of the classroom, how to help students transition back to class peacefully to gain back your instructional time. Having a designated quiet spot in the classroom for students who need to self-regulate is beneficial for classroom management for all students, especially special needs students {K, 1st, 2nd, 3rd grade, SPED, behavior modification}

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