Patrick Nau, a teacher at PS 369 in the South Bronx, is participating in training by the Institute for Understanding Behavior, a consortium of the New York City Department of Education and the UFT. The institute trains entire school staffs to respond to challenging behavior more effectively by using strategies that help foster social, emotional and academic growth. Eight schools have signed up for the training. Patrick will be blogging about his experience and the lessons he hopes to bring into the classroom.
I teach technology and social studies to students in pre-K through 5th grade at PS 369 in the Bronx. It’s a high-needs neighborhood – there are homeless shelters nearby and there’s a large immigrant population. I have bilingual students and special education students in my classes.
I’m not a homeroom teacher so I see different groups of students all day. Some students I only see once a week. If a child comes into my class angry, it’s difficult to figure out the context. Something could have happened in another class or outside the school, and I have to navigate that.
There’s a lot of extra baggage brought in by the kids, such as aggressive behavior or defiance. The idea of finding an alternative way to engage students and draw them into instruction – especially students who have a hard time staying on task – is very appealing.
My principal told me about the Institute for Understanding Behavior. I don’t know a whole lot about it, but I’ve heard other teachers discussing it. It’s about how to avoid exploiting a situation that sets a kid off into a power struggle. The whole school is taking the Therapeutic Crisis Intervention for Schools course with the institute – we’re going in groups of four. I start this week.
I’m hoping to learn to better manage the classroom. In the past when I had certain students who were a handful, I tried to protect the rest of the class. At certain times I’d have to ignore them, so as not to escalate a situation. There were plenty of times when I didn’t know what to do. I’m hoping to engage those students in learning, and avoid making it a big problem – and if it does escalate, how do I get that kid back? I’m trying to raise expectations, carry out curriculum and develop a supportive environment based on preventive measures. I don’t want to waste a minute.