Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Detention unveiled....

It appears my description of “detention” as implemented in our ED program has left the venerable Dr. John at EBD Blog “at sea”!! He’s right though, I did kind of tiptoe around it all.

See if this helps:

Today Calvin was in our crisis room, sitting at a desk in a study carrel with the counselor, discussing the incident that sent him there: when Calvin was directed to go to his desk after morning circle time, he lingered with unrestrained defiance. The other children complied, and the IA made a verbal comment complimenting one of them specifically. At that point, Calvin jumped up and ran at the complimented child, grabbed his face (yes, grabbed, with both hands, taking hold of plump cheeks and nose parts.)

The IA got there before great damage was done, separated the boys, and walked with Calvin to the crisis room. I got the great job of hugging the hurt fella and getting him the TLC he needed.

While in the crisis room, the counselor and Calvin talked a bit, and she determined he wasn’t really “available” yet to be constructive. He demanded the use of a rubber ball, and when she redirected him, he bolted out the door and ran down the hall with reckless abandon. Then, fortuitously or unfortunately, Calvin tripped, fell to the carpeted floor and began to cry loudly. Our counselor helped him to his feet and walked him back to her office.

Her intervention lasted about 20 minutes more, and included a structured 5 minute time out, some time to use the putty for relaxation, and talking through a plan for next time. Our experience with Calvin is that he is highly anxious, often thinks irrationally, and takes a long time to truly settle down. So when he reentered the classroom, he sat at a desk near the coat closet, a bit away from the group. I set a visual timer for 15 minutes, and went over the expectations with him: “No talking or getting up. Draw or read quietly if you choose. Use this time to show us you are ready to put on your listening ears and come back to the group.”

With a minor blip in the routine—Calvin got up to sharpen his pencil, and twice called out to me—he completed his detention time successfully, was heartily invited back to the group where he immediately went to the other boy and apologized/hugged him.

Those extra minutes at the desk really work for most of our kids. Traditional short timeouts are often just not enough time for them to physically settle enough to get back to the stimulating classroom environment. The trick is to find the right balance of extended time so effectiveness is not diminished.

I hope this is a bit clearer. It’s a process, one created by caring and respectful teachers over several years time. It’s really not a detention, more like a last phase of recovery in the crisis cycle. But it works. Targeted behaviors are reduced. Kids are successfully returned to class and instruction. If it didn’t, we would change the procedure, find another way. That’s key to being effective, right?!!!

1 comment:

molly_g said...

The Kid and I have been talking a lot about "detention" and how he needs to learn how to do it on his own. We've decided to call it "recharging," as he once told me that by sitting away from his classmates helps him "run better," like a toy that needs to be plugged into the wall. My only hope is that he will learn how to recharge in steadily more socially acceptable ways over the years.

Thanks for your recent help, by the way... I got a few books, all very helpful, especially Greene's book.