By George Venetis and Ed Ford
The various means of support offered to students are part of the total RTP school discipline process and are listed below:
1. Asking questions - Many times students aren't aware of their actions and the disturbances they cause by their behavior throughout the school. The questions should help them to reflect on their present actions and to compare what they are doing with the standards and rules of the environment in which they find themselves. Instead of being told what to do, the teacher, by asking these specific questions, is helping students to think on their own. Eventually, students develop the ability to create a way, wherever they are in the future, to get what they want without disturbing others.
2. Listening - We listen to the student's response to the questions respectfully without criticism or any demeaning remarks to try to discover what is so important to the child that disruptions occur chronically as she attempts to get what she wants.
3. Referrals to the RTC - When a student is doing poorly in math, a school may arrange for the student to get help in a special classroom where he is taught to think through his math problems. When students disrupt and violate the rights of others, they are sent to the Responsible Thinking Classroom (RTC). Here is where the student is given time to reflect on what he did. And, just as in the special math classroom, he is given the necessary support and help he needs to sort through his difficulties. When he is ready to return to class, he is taught how to develop a plan by creatively thinking of ways to get what he wants without breaking the rules and infringing on the rights of others. Once his plan is completed, he is allowed to return to where he came from to negotiate his plan with the person in charge.
4. Planning - The primary goal here is to first ask the students to look within themselves and to define what is important to them. After establishing what is important to them and their priorities, they are then asked to reflect on the standards that they would use to achieve their goals. Once established, they then work out a plan to achieve their goals in a way that does not violate the rights of those in the school environment.
5. Student/RTC Teacher role-plays - The intent of this intervention is to have the student, who has completed her plan while in the RTC, practice using her plan with the RTC teacher. The teacher role plays a similar situation in which the student had been involved and the effectiveness of the student's plan is tested. By doing this, the student gets an opportunity to experience using her plan before returning to class.
6. Self-referrals - The intent here is to teach students how to deal with themselves if they feel they may have a problem disturbing others by remaining in the same environment. They could be dealing internally with problems at home, in their social life, or just plain angry at the remarks of another student. Regardless, they need to be taught how to excuse themselves in a safe manner and be allowed to go to a place where they can sort things out or just calm down. Ordinarily, this would be the RTC. Here they can just sit and "chill-out" or be provided with the necessary support to sort through their difficulties. When they feel they are ready to return to where they belong, they may do so.
7. Calling parents - The intent of calling parents is to inform them about their child and to ask for their support and ideas that would assist the school in working with their child.
8. Parent/Student/Administrator conferences - Often, there are times when the administrator has to meet with both the parent and student. These meetings could involve the student's return from a suspension, after being sent home from the RTC, on a tardy to school issue, truancy, or academic problems. In all cases, the student's commitment to resolving the problem is critical before the child can be readmitted to school. This commitment is obtained by asking questions on how matters are to be resolved. The student then reports to the RTC where he is helped to create a plan.
9. Negotiating - This is a time when children approach a teacher or parent with their plan to negotiate their way back to where they were disrupting. They are given time to explain how they are going to deal with the problem the next time it occurs. If part of their plan is unacceptable, then alternatives are offered. Their plan is never ignored or refused. Negotiating is critical to building student/teacher relationships.
10. Conflict resolutions - Students meet with a school staff member who guides them through a way to resolve their conflicts or differences with another student. Through this process they learn how to deal with the same or similar future problems on their own.
11. Monitor sheets - The intent here is to help students who continue to have problems controlling their perceptions without disturbing others. A list of each class and/or time period for the day is provided the student. As the student leaves one place for another area, the teacher or supervisor notes on the monitor sheet how well he did. Thus the student learns of his successes, not just his failures. It also tells the people working with him where he is having difficulty, so they can offer appropriate support.
12. Schedule modifications (Earn-All) - Again, the intent here is to help students, who continue having difficulty in one or more classes. This is done by allowing them to attend a few classes at a time, gradually increasing the number of classes or time periods as they demonstrate their ability to respect others by not violating their rights. Students are more likely to achieve success if allowed to demonstrate responsibility in small increments, gradually increasing those increments as they succeed. Note: Monitor sheets are usually used during this process.
13. Returning from Alternative School - When students are sent to alternative schools and in extreme cases, to residential treatment centers, occasionally they indicate their desire to return to their regular school. When this happens, their full class schedule is established. and with the use of plan making and a monitor sheet, they are allowed on campus for one class. This should be a class in which they believe they can succeed. This arrangement continues until the students have demonstrated sufficient responsibility to attend an additional class. Additional classes are added as students demonstrate their success. The remaining time is spent off campus at the prior school, or in a safe, restricted, and supervised environment. Again, the intent here is to help students to be successful by allowing them to demonstrate responsibility in small increments.
14. Modification of the school environment - The goal of this intervention is to modify the area at school where the student seems to be having difficulty. The intent is to help the student achieve her goal while not violating the rights of others. For example, you may move a student to a certain area in the classroom where there will be less chance she will have to deal with disturbances by other students or she will disturb others. As the student experiences success, she may be moved back to where she normally would be. On the playground, a designated area near the supervisor is selected for the child to play. This is often called the transition area. Again, as the student's ability to play responsibly increases, the area of play is increased. The same principle would apply for the cafeteria or school bus.
15. Student intervention team - The team's purpose is not to decide what to do to the student to get him to change his behavior. Rather, the team's purpose is to offer the kind of support, which would enable the child to manage his own life in a way that doesn't violate the rights of others. The team, made up of those who've spent time with the child, tries to discover what is so important to the child that disruptions occur chronically as he attempts to get what he wants.
16. Quality time - The intent of this activity is to build a stronger relationship with the child. For children to succeed, they must believe that someone cares about them and that person has confidence in their ability to solve problems. A staff member or volunteer is selected to spend time alone with the student on a regular basis, doing interactive types of activities that promote awareness of each other.
17. Classroom discussions - The intent of this activity is to engage students in the kind of discussions that will teach the students how to listen and respect by their responses what teachers and their peers say. As they learn to respect the thoughts and opinions of other students by watching the example of their teacher, they learn to respect their teacher and their peers themselves. Classroom discussions are usually conducted at least once a week.
18. Parent classes - Classes are offered to parents that will teach them how to implement the responsible thinking process in their home. During the class, parents are given materials that will assist them when they have to deal with their children. Parents are also taught how to strengthen relationships with their children through quality time.
19. Operational Procedures - Operational Procedures include all the things teachers and administrators do to structure the school environment for efficient and effective learning. They establish how things are to be done, rather than how students are to behave, and they help to reduce opportunities for disruptions and conflicts. See Chapter 11, by Al Kullman on page 72, in Discipline For Home And School, Book One, Third Edition.
Copyright © 2002 George Venetis and Ed Ford