Behaviour Management Diary - Jimmy\\\'s Story 2 - My First Meeting Wit
Nov 12, 2009 Classroom Management 2898 Views
I recently introduced you to Jimmy's story. Here I'll tell you of my first meeting with him. Hope you enjoy it ...
Prior to the starting their PRU placement in my classes, I always like to meet the child along with their parents or carers and a teacher from their mainstream school. There are a number of reasons for this. It gives me a good opportunity note how the child interacts, their level of confidence, their interests and willingness to communicate. I assess them and they assess me!
Children who are referred to the PRU are usually very unhappy, show negative emotion and have difficulty interacting with adults positively. The child often has no understanding of why they will attend two schools. Sometimes they have no knowledge that they have been referred to the PRU - nobody has bothered to explain to them what's going on and there is a danger, that if they don't have an understanding of the situation they will misinterpret the situation.
A negative relationship has often developed between parents and the child's mainstream and also may have a skewed perception of the PRU and the work I do. They can be nervous and anxious about what is happening. I see this meeting as an important starting point in building a positive and trusting relationship with children and parents.
Schools often complain that they can never contact a particular child's parents - they won't answer the phone. It's easy to understand why. If I were in their position, always hearing negatives about their child (and believe me that's pretty much all these parents have heard for a long time) then I'd be pretty reluctant to answer the phone.
There's plenty of paperwork to complete and reading matter for the parents to take home - I wonder if anyone ever reads it? I show the visitors round the PRU so the pupil knows where they are coming, where the facilities are and which is their classroom. Parents and carers can then picture the environment when the child chatters about their day. There is a great deal of reassurance offered to the child and parents that we want the best outcome for their child, to enable them to become more successful and confident at school. These meetings are generally very positive with the child being acknowledged for using good manners, eye contact and interacting well.
Jimmy's initial meeting was different from the norm as his referral was as an emergency due to the permanent exclusion from mainstream school and the difficulties being faced by those employed to deal with him post exclusion. A permanently excluded pupil attends the PRU until another school is identified, leaving no other option when Jimmy as he moved to lower junior years.
The meeting was arranged for an afternoon just prior to the end of term. He came with his carers and was quite excited about attending a new school.
Jimmy came across as a confident, open little boy with an inquisitive, questioning nature. He was very smart in the school uniform of the primary school recently identified. Jane and Andy, Jimmy's carers, had a very positive visit to the mainstream school, the head teacher being very welcoming and positive - a new experience in their search for a suitable school. The full uniform was purchased, and Jimmy was so proud and excited to wear it.
I was gently assertive with Jimmy to let him know the expectations when he attended the PRU. He had to accept that I was in control, but wanted him to be confident about attending. I decided to use my usual approach of being quite open - reassuring the child but leaving no room for misunderstanding.
I introduced myself to Jimmy and told him that I would be his teacher. He listened carefully to what I was saying. I wanted to assess his level of confidence and his language ability. Jimmy showed good language skills for a child of his age. He had to know that he was going to attend the PRU to practise good behaviour so he could go to his new school being able to be a regular year 3 boy who could achieve well in school.
I told him that he was coming to me to learn to be a big boy and do big boy's work and he had to show me how well he could behave and work so that he could have visits to his mainstream school. He listened intently and assured me that he could do sums and he wanted to learn to read well. Jimmy appeared to be very eager, so to give him confidence I asked him a few simple adding questions and told him what a clever boy he was and that I knew he was going to do very well with me. I showed him the work he would be starting on, and we had a look at the library to choose a suitable reading book.
Jimmy's carers were very impressed that he sat and listened and conversed with me so well. I understood their concerns; only that morning there had been a major incident against his two teachers and their worries had intensified about Jimmy's future and ability to achieve in school. If he couldn't be controlled with the ratio of 2 adults to 1 child, what hope could there be? After all, prior to the permanent exclusion, experienced teachers had been consistently unable to manage Jimmy - why should I be any different? Because managing children's behaviour is what I do and I do it very successfully every working day. I knew that my experience and confidence meant that Jimmy would learn to adhere to school rules and high expectations of behaviour.
Having met and talked to Jimmy I knew that this was a little boy who was very manageable, and in fact I was very positive about him joining my class. I was aware of the many people who had tried and failed with Jimmy, and the many negative feelings about his ability to be managed. But I don't give up on a child and know that unless there is something fundamentally wrong with them, which is extremely rare, effective behaviour management strategies will achieve positive results.
However, all these gut feelings don't mean I am complacent. I don't dwell on a child's past and when they join my class I consider a new start is being made. But, I know what each child is capable of, the behaviour they have displayed and have got away with in the past. Much of the unacceptable behaviour will have become habitual and effective steps have to be taken by confident, skilled adults to manage the child to establish more positive, acceptable habits of behaviour.
So, how will Jimmy be when he starts in my class? I'll let you know what happened next...
Please pass Jimmy's story around to anyone you think may enjoy following his progress. Thanks for reading.