Friday, December 19, 2008

Respecting - Period!

Just as it is important for students to respect teachers, school administrators and staff, it is essential that they respect students - students of all ages and in all grades.

One of the apparent difficulties for teachers and staff is to respect students as they mature. Students who are 15-16-18 years old should be taught and allowed to become more independent. They should be treated differently than one might treat students who are 6-7-8 years of age.

When a student is in high school, he should be learning to make more decisions on his own. In fact, it's good if he begins learning that in middle school, even in grade school. You make decisions; you enjoy benefits or consequences for the decisions you make.

For the high school and older student, it's no longer appropriate to give orders and demand compliance - unless it is a life-threatening direction. Too many teachers are trained to be disciplinarians, to expect instant compliance with orders and directives. They don't learn how to interact with students who are learning independence in the home. Too many are too quick to "pull a card" on a student or to issue discipline.

In particular, for students in special education, teachers and staff should be identifying what is causing a particular behavior or action. Until you know and understand what led up to a particular behavior, you, as a teacher, staff member or even as a parent, cannot take effective steps to solve the problem.

In Special Education there is a process called a Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA). It is well described in a publication from the Pacer Center in Minnesota ( I've had my own experience with FBAs, and it is critical for a parent to know how it is supposed to be conducted. I learned that I could not trust the school system to do it properly, in spite of many questions ahead of time and assurances received from the school personnel.

I'll write about that on another day.

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