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9 Skills/Strategies for the Love and Logic Classroom Teacher

Daniel Huddleston
550 Lindley Road
Petrolia, CA 95558

Brandman ID # B00537329
Course #EDPU 9352

Success with Extremely Challenging & Acting Out Kids


06/19/2017

Description of Conference: I attended the annual Summer Love and Logic Conference for Parents
and Educators at Copper Mountain Resort in Colorado. I attended sessions designed to further
strengthen my classroom skills working with groups of 20-40 students at a time. I attended the
following sessions: “Success with Strong-willed Kids” & “Love & Logic = Fewer Power Struggles”
with Jim and Charles Fay, “Motivate to Educate” with Joe Martin, and “Love and Logic for School
Leaders” with Jim Fay.

Student Population: I have studied Love and Logic since 2012. Last year (2016-2017 school year) was the first year I got
to implement the skills as a regular classroom teacher (after two years as a fuel delivery driver and one year as a long-term
substitute). The results were incredible. As the math teacher at Point Arena High School in Northern California I was
responsible for the math education and study skills for 70 students every day. The school demographics includes about 50%
Hispanic and 10% Native American, with about 15% emerging English Language Learners. Two-thirds of the student body
were eligible for the Free and Reduced lunch program. Consistently over the last 5 years only 25% of eleventh graders have met
grade level proficiency in mathematics. Among my 80 students, I had one IEP student in Algebra 2, and 3 IEP students in
Business Math, as well as about a dozen students with 504 accommodations. Disabilities ranged from general learning
disabilities to emotionally disturbed.

This current school year I moved down to Southern California after two events: one, losing my math position due to local political
power plays, and two, meeting a school psychologist from Carlsbad at the Love and Logic Conference in Copper Mountain,
Colorado. I’ve yet to obtain a regular teaching position this school year (2017-2018), but did coach a middle school cross country
team from August 28 to November 17, as well as teaching six days at Mission Hills High School (San Marcos) for three
sections of algebra and two sections of senior math. In January, I will be leading 3 sections of Algebra 2 and 2 sections of
geometry for 12 weeks also at Mission Hills HS.
Strategy #1

A. Skill/Strategy Description
This first skill I want to develop as a teacher is the ability to move around the classroom. I
feel this skill is a necessary element to maintain and improve the relationships with my
students as well as enhance the learning environment for my students. The ability of a
teacher to move around the classroom correlates well with the “withitness” of the teacher.

The core of this strategy is the idea that I don’t I want to be trapped or secluded behind the
podium, projector, laptop, etc as I am giving my presentation. Elements of this strategy will
include walking toward particularly needy students, perhaps standing close to a student, as I
continue talking, asking questions, allowing wait time between questions, and time to think.

While moving around the classroom I will attempt to make eye contact, for short periods of
time, to further share with as many participants in the classroom as possible that “hey, I see
you. I understand your needs to be in control or make decisions for ourselves.” In summary,
as I fully develop this strategy I want my audience to know that I have a fully understand
what it means to be a leader of growth and learning; that their growth and learning is so
important to me that I am able to develop a lesson from anywhere in the room.

B. Learning Objectives
In order to make this skill a habit in my daily teaching I will prepare the notes, talking points
and key points of each 50 minute lesson on 2-3 pages of paper. I will also arrange my teacher
work station in such a way as to discourage myself from standing or sitting in one location
for prolonged periods of time. During the instructional phase of each lesson, and up to the
first 35 minutes of each 50 minute class I will be an active person in the class. I will ask
colleagues and administrative team members to visit the first 25-35 minute of at least 12
classes every six weeks to monitor the amount of time I have a physical barrier (podium,
desk, document camera table) between myself and my students. During visits from
colleagues and leaders I will ask them to make note of my ability to use silence to grow the
minds, and stretch the knowledge, of my audience.

C. Appropriateness of Skill for Targeted Students


As a teacher I ask my students every day to take large risks. That is, I ask them to do things
that are very hard and may even require failure in order to achieve. In order to be successful
with this strategy, and as a classroom teacher, I must have my students motivated from a
place of desire, rather than fear. That is, I must enjoy a strong relationship with each
participant. This first strategy – moving around the classroom – helps me maintain the
dignity of myself and my learners. As the learners see that I am in control of my actions, that
I am acting responsibly, that my behaviors are directly related to the task at hand they will be
more likely to be motivated from a place of desire rather than fear.

I want to maintain the dignity of myself and others so that I can positively affect the factors
that influence the students’ perceptions of my attitudes in regard to them. My non-verbal
behavior sends many signals about what I think, how I act, and my own self-confidence to
lead a group. The more I can harness and control my own emotions, behaviors and attitudes
on a daily basis the greater reciprocity I will receive with my audience.
D. Correlation of Strategy to the Conference
At the 2017 Love and Logic Summer Conference, Dr. Joe Martin spoke on “Motivate to
Educate”. During the all-day session Dr. Martin spoke of his adventures as an educator and
speaker. Martin spoke with confidence, fortitude, and a strong belief that his message had
value, which allowed him to have strong engagement with his audience.

Dr. Martin modeled interacting with, and paying attention to his audience. He demonstrated
not just through his spoken words, but his non-verbal communication that he wanted to
connect, was responsible for his own action. Though in some aspects I do not believe that
Joe Martin was as effective in his presentation as he could be. I felt like Dr. Martin was
speaking at me, telling me what I should do, and in general not doing what I am trying to do
in this strategy – maintain the dignity of my audience. I felt a little patronized as if Dr.
Martin believe that I could not handle cognitively demanding concepts or couldn’t figure
things out for myself. Perhaps I am being too harsh, or perhaps I have spent too many hours
(100s) listening to Jim Fay audio productions over and over.

Dr. Martin did repeatedly make the point – both directly and through his stories – about the
need to connect in order for someone to take risks and do something difficult. His own
organization, Real Men Connect, is tangible evidence of this point. And that’s what I want to
accomplish be moving around the classroom and being able to handle any situation calmly
and easily – to put myself in as many situations as possible that will allow me to connect with
my audience so that they will find the desire, either for me or themselves, to do hard stuff.

E. Student Evaluation and Assessment


I have not had the opportunity to request too many colleagues or leaders to check-in on my
progress for this first learning objective, but I have received positive feedback from my
former principal, Dr. Rebekah Barakos-Cartwright. She noticed during a class observation
that I was willing to teach in any corner of the classroom. In particular, as I was going over
the lesson via my iPad and AppleTV, I moved myself near a student and just presented and
asked questions from that area for a few moments as a gentle reminder to a student being
distracting that I noticed the behavior but I believe they are smart enough to figure out a
solution without me having to directly intervene.

At other times I have noticed that when I don’t take care of my own dignity, when I don’t
take care to ensure my own self-confidence, inner strength, I get caught being passive, not
interacting with my audience, and then raising the affective filters of everyone in the
classroom. The only positive from these occasional experiences is that as soon as I realize
what is happening and become more active, more engaged, more confident the tone of the
classroom changes immediately for the better.

F. Self-Evaluation
I continue to practice this technique on a daily basis in the classrooms that I teach. I feel that
this is one of the main things that I do that ensures my ability to teach and speak with any
group, anywhere, on any subject. Perhaps that is a bit over-confident and cocky, but I think
not, because I am conscious of the skills that I need to continually practice in order to
achieve my desire results.
Strategy #2

A. Skill/Strategy Description
The next strategy I would like to make standard in my bag of tricks is the “statement of
disfavor”. These are neutral statements that carry no emotional tone and no demands on the
person causing the behavior that is in dis-favor. As I read and study more and more about
the techniques developed by Jim Fay and Dr. Foster Cline, these statements of dis-favor
seem to be a transition between moving around the classroom - and being “with-it” - and
full on enforceable statements and choice giving.

Examples of statements of disfavor include: Is this the right place for that?, Can you save
that for later?, Would you mind?, and Would you consider? The key point of all these
statements are that they are used while teaching, while walking around the classroom, and in
confidence between myself, the teacher, and the offending student. Each time that I use a
statement of dis-favor, I assume that the child/student will comply with my request by doing
three things: smiling, saying thank you, and walking away- immediately. Assuming that a
person will comply, while making the statement with no emotional undertones underscores
that I, the leader, believes the participant is able to exercise their own volition, and control,
over the situation. That they are able to maintain their dignity within the group.

If a participant elects to allow my statement of disfavor to influence their behavior


positively, then great I’ve fixed the problem with minimal effort and effect. If not, then I
may approach the participant again, during the course of teaching, and use various phrases –
all indicating my amusement of the scenario, not my anger or frustration. Various phrases I
may use include: Did I ask in a nice way?, What did I say?, and Am I being polite?

B. Learning Objectives
I will develop appropriate non-verbal body language such that I can walk to up to any
student and make short statements of dis-favor, as mentioned above, that defuse the
emotional content of the moment and allows the participant to make their own choices.

I will develop a state of mind to engage in short, sweet productive dialogs with my students
while simultaneously engaging in relevant and rigorous teaching.

In order to accomplish this learning objective I will continue to regularly listen to the audio
production “23 Quick and Easy Intervention” to better internalize the manner in which they
are applied. I will also write quick “reminder” notes on my daily lecture notes of the types of
statements I can use while roaming the classroom.

C. Appropriateness of Skill for Targeted Students


This strategy of engaging challenging or acting-out students follows many theories of
psychology and educational psychology. Accepted concepts related to this strategy include:
my ability (as adult or leader) to serve as a model for children’s emotions, using the control
needs of the learners to reduce unwanted behaviors, understanding the effects of emotions
on reasoning, the importance of positive teacher-student relationships, the importance of
empathy and acceptance, as well as the continual development of self-regulatory skills by all
people.
D. Correlation of Strategy to the Conference
In the Monday sessions of the conference, first Jim Fay in the morning and then Jim and
Charles in the afternoon, re-iterated from many different angles and perspectives the
importance of developing and enjoying strong and healthy relationships. They both modeled
and discussed the first rule of Love and Logic: Remain a healthy and positive role model by
taking care of yourself in loving, unselfish ways. Statements of disfavor, when applied in a
cool, calm, non-emotional and empathic manner communicates to one’s followers, or
audience, that the leader is a healthy role model who is always in control of their actions.

E. Student Evaluation and Assessment


As I have applied this strategy in both freshman and senior Algebra classes at Mission Hills
High School, I have found that many more of my students are able to participate
meaningfully during each lesson. The students see me, the teacher, as not an enforcer but
someone who deserves a high regard. They may yet not know, or be willing, to struggle
through the practice necessary to assimilate new ideas and knowledge, but by my consistent
use of statements of disfavor more of my classes are able to remain in the thinking state,
rather than an emotional state, which puts a greater likeliness of improved learning outcomes
over time.

F. Self-Evaluation
As I continue to improve this strategy of statements of disfavor I would like to be able to
more often smoothly whisper a statement to a class participant in-between a guided
discussion or question-answer session. Though, I feel I am being highly effective, the skill
doesn’t yet seem just part of my natural manner, or second nature.
Strategy #3

A. Skill/Strategy Description
The next strategy I will make consistently available in my tool-belt is the heart-to-heart
conversation taught by Love and Logic, or as Dr. Joe Martin described it the “3H Model for
effective conferences.” This strategy is best employed for a repeat offender. This strategy is
always employed with the same non-emotional, effective non-verbal communication
techniques used in the previous strategies. During a break from instruction, or perhaps as
the class is being dismissed I will calmly approach the offender and ask a choice-based, non-
threatening question such as: Can I make an appointment to see you at either lunch or after
school? At 3:00 or 3:30? Depending on how I expect the offender to react I may even just
let it go and have the office staff send a call slip for the student to see me at a convenient
time (such as a break, free period, PE, before school, etc).

Before the “heart-to-heart” conversation I will prepare three short questions for the
offender, something to the effect of 1) Why do I want to talk? 2) Why might that be
important? 3) and What can I do to help?. A few things I will make sure I will not do are the
following: talk too much, lecture, give threats, or provide advice. Things I will do is ask the
offender to tell me more, query is there anything else you’d like to add, take short notes,
repeat back what I hear, and ask for more clarification.

During these “therapeutic talks” I will be patient. If the offender chooses not to participate
during the talk, then I’ll wait a few minutes and then say “well, thanks for coming in, we’ll try
this later” or something to that effect. These types of statements imply that I’m in control of
the situation, while at the same time the offender is also in control of the situation. I want to
demonstrate that it is possible for everyone in mutual interactions to have some resemblance
of control. I also want to, perhaps nonverbally, acknowledge the hurt that an offender may
be feeling before moving on to the hope and then offering help – as described by Dr. Joe
Martin.

B. Learning Objectives
I have developed a general plan and outline for one-on-one talks that I am comfortable at
implementing at any given moment. I would like to practice using the magic phrase “I would
like to brainstorm the possible options for this problem” after I have proven that I heard the
individual correctly. That is an element that both Dr. Martin and Jim Fay routinely
emphasize in their material that I have, up to this point of time, neglected.

C. Appropriateness of Skill for Targeted Students


This strategy treats the individual as an intelligent, unique person whose total, or holistic,
development is more important than me having my way.

D. Correlation of Strategy to the Conference


See my description.

E. Student Evaluation and Assessment


Back to Collin and Roger (from Strategy 6). I am alone with Collin with none of his peers
around for him to act tough. Our conversation is roughly based around these three
questions: Why do I want to talk with you? Why is that important? What can I do to help
you?

Collin was pretty smart. He was adamant that I had nothing to worry about; he and Roger
were childhood friends, and still are. In the course of our short conversation I repeated this a
few times: all I want is that you show me; talk is cheap.

I didn’t lecture. I didn’t make threats. I stated what I noticed: two of my students pretending
to fight in the classroom. And asking what I can do to remove this disruption from the
classroom. I finished the conversation with this statement, “thank you for talking with me. I
think we both understand each other. If I can do anything to help, then let me know.”

Collin then became a “model” class member from that day on, not necessarily a model
student – one who studies, but someone I could count on to be helpful. I even had the
opportunity to brag to his mom about the behavior changes Collin adapted “on his own” in
my classroom. Albeit, technically it wasn’t on his own, I influenced his behavior through my
own actions, but I didn’t have to influence his behavior through negative actions (violences,
threats, etc).

F. Self-Evaluation
These one-on-one talks are something that I have come to look forward to more and more.
When all the little, simple mid-class interventions don’t seem to work, or work but only for a
few minutes at a time. One of the things that I worry about is that I become too dependent
on the one-on-one conversation that I may be susceptible at not utilizing the most effective
teaching strategies in the classroom. I want to continue to improve my general EQ in the
classroom so that I don’t feel like I have always fall back on this strategy. That being said,
knowing I can utilize this for just about any student is a wonderful confidence builder.
Strategy #4 (Using Stories)

A. Skill/Strategy Description
The next strategy to add to my tool-belt is giving choices early and often during the
relationship.

B. Learning Objectives
I will allow myself to stop during class either planned or spontaneously to tell a story either
from my own life (outside of the classroom) or involving someone in class. The purpose of
the stories will be, in a light yet serious manner, foster a learning environment where my
students feel that they will be accepted for taking risks and failing – while occasionally
succeeding. I will maintain a daily journal where I can practice writing down the little
anecdotes of life as preparation for a future story.

C. Appropriateness of Skill for Targeted Students


D. Correlation of Strategy to the Conference
Jim Fay, Charles Fay, PhD, and Joe Marshall, Ed.D all used this strategy to lower the
affective filter of their audience so that more of the audience would be receptive to the
messages of each presentation. Stories tell the listener, “hey, there are others just like me
going through the same trials and tribulations.” Stories give acceptance, belonging, smiles
and appreciation.

E. Student Evaluation and Assessment


I remember Jay. Jay was a sophomore, from a small high school, in a blended family, socially
awkward, a cross country athlete, and most importantly Jay recognized that there are some
inherent problems in the way that most individuals communicate their desires or
preferences.

I had heard reports of the refusal of Jay to cooperate in the classroom, and even reports of
some outbursts of anger. Jay always seemed to be friendly, engaged and, relatively, happy in
my classroom – though I had ensured that I always took care of myself in the classroom
from Day 1.

Anyway, somehow at the beginning of class a student asked “Why should you (the teacher)
like a student if they are getting bad grades? (or something to that effect)” Jay had just
celebrated his birthday (and I had given him a short, simple birthday card. Jay had also
missed the last few weekly tests (not necessarily on purpose) and had gotten behind in class.
So, in response to the question, I smiled and asked Jay, “Can I use you as an example?” So, I
answered the question using Jay as the subject. He smiled. I connected more with him, more
with my class since it was obvious I wasn’t just making stuff up.

F. Self-Evaluation
The more I take to heart the wisdom that the “group mirrors the respect that the leader has
for him/her-self” the more I am able to relax and let life come to me, rather than forcing
anything. The stronger I become as a person, the easier is life.
Strategy #5 (setting enforceable limits)

A. Skill/Strategy Description
The next strategy to add to my tool-belt is the use of enforceable statements to set limits.
The purpose of enforceable statements is twofold: one, to describe what I am going to do
(allow), and two, model strong self-control on my part the teacher. Many smart people have
discovered this bit of wisdom, but I remember the way a colleague said it, “groups somehow
can figure out the strength of a leader, and then reflect it back to the leader through their
own collective behavior.” By practicing, and using, enforceable statements I model for my
group my own strong feelings of self-control and self-respect, and they almost reflexively,
without thinking, have to model the same behaviors back to me.

An enforceable statement can be an opportunity to share the control with a group by


allowing two options, both of which are acceptable. Just like everything in Love and Logic,
these choices should be genuine and delivered with authenticity and empathy. I want to
provide as many choices from the beginning so the group immediately begins having their
control and thinking needs met. At the same time, I do not want the group to deliberate for
very long on a choice.

Lastly, enforceable statements are not “I-messages”. I-messages share feelings. Enforceable
statements describe what I do, or provide, without telling the students, learners, participants
what to do about it (from the 23 Quick and Easy Intervention audio recording).

B. Learning Objectives
Specifically, rather than telling my students to get ready for class and take notes, I will say,
“Now, I am going to talk about today’s lesson; the choices are to watch/listen or take notes.
I want to give information to help complete the lesson.” Or, rather than telling the class
what to do, I will say, “What is the definition? Think of the definition and either tell the
person to your left or your right.” After practicing enforceable statements regularly in my
classroom, I will be able to tell a student what to do and know that they will cooperate.

C. Appropriateness of Skill for Targeted Students


The Social Learning Theorist, Albert Bandura, in his classic Bobo Doll study, showed that
what we do is a much more powerful behavior indicator than anything else. More
importantly, observing effective behavior not only increases the odds of the observer to
mimic the behavior, but also increases the likelihood of the observer learning the complex
rules governing cause and effect in social situations.

D. Correlation of Strategy to the Conference


This strategy was highlighted as Essential Skill #6 from the conference. One of the points of
emphasis from Dr. Charles Fay is that limits will stick when they describe what WE are
going to do or allow…not what someone else should do. Therefore, parents and educators
with a high skill level in Love and Logic place a heavy emphasis on controlling their own
behavior so they can remain effective models. Effective parents and educators also engage in
healthy self-care, including the appropriate setting and enforcement of boundaries, so they
can remain positive models (Teaching with Love and Logic, p. 243).

E. Student Evaluation and Assessment


While I was applying this skill at Point Arena High School, I consciously thought about how
I presented the content to my students. Many students chose to write things down as a
means of helping themselves remember the information. Some students chose to just listen
and not write anything down.

F. Self-Evaluation
Very rarely do I have to expend energy dealing with chronic mis-behavior or take time away
from my teaching. Occasionally, I feel as if I am having difficult time concentrating or
focussing during my instruction, so I say some version of that exact statement: “I need to do
my best job teaching; that means I need to be able to concentrate and focus. I will continue
teaching when I am able to concentrate and focus.” Using enforceable statements, and then
backing them up sincere I-messages, and using other small strategies from the 23 Quick and
Easy Interventions was how I guaranteed that I would always have a good day at work.
Strategy #6

A. Skill/Strategy Description
The next skill I would like to describe is delaying consequences until I have the time and
thought to effectively utilize the situation/problem as a learning or growth mechanism rather
than just punishment. Or, in other words, the logic aspect of Love and Logic.

Serious, disruptive behavior for the effectiveness of a group or the learning environment
should not be dealt with at the loss of the relationship of the individuals involved. Also, the
disruption of the learning environment can feel like a direct affront to the image of the
leader or teacher, so part of developing this skill is being ok with not having a punishment
right on the spot. Delaying the consequences of an action reminds the teacher, and the
student, that the consequence isn’t personal, that the person isn’t a bad person, just that
there are certain actions that are acceptable and some that are not acceptable. Delayed
consequences, with empathy, reminds all parties that we will work together to figure out how
to grow to our full potential.

B. Learning Objectives
First, I will provide empathy at the site of the infraction (“uh no, I’m going to have to do
something.”). Second, after meeting with the perpetrator of the disruption I will never
remind the perpetrator what we talked about. I will trust that they are an intelligent, active
person who can figure things out for themselves – unless the disruption occurs again. Three,
I will wait and see if the delayed consequence has provided a short-term or long-term
solution. If it has worked, then I’ll say great and move on. If it did not work, then I will say,
ok, I guess I’ll try something else, or apply some more empathy and another delayed
consequence.

C. Appropriateness of Skill for Targeted Students


Again, this strategy hits the four principles of Love and Logic with the goal of maintaining
relationships. By providing empathy first, and consequences later, I am maintaining the
dignity of both myself and the student by not reacting to anger or frustrations that might be
felt. By providing empathy first, I am allowing the child to think about what might happen.
Even stating the phrase “I’ll have to do something about this, but I’m not sure just yet, I’ll
think about it and get back to you” can/could get a child or student thinking even more.

D. Correlation of Strategy to the Conference


Afternoon of Day 1.

E. Student Evaluation and Assessment


Collin and Roger (Rojelio M) thought that the classroom was their playground – by the way
these are two eighteen year old high school seniors. The first time Collin got out of his chair
and calmly walked up to Roger and applied a chokehold to Roger I was very surprised – to
say the least. I stayed calm, tried to continue teaching to the best of my abilities, and walked
up to Collin, “Can we save that for after class?” I would walk away and Collin would
eventually return to his seat. This happened two to three times a class period over a 3 day
period. I never got angry, and I never attempted to try to discipline Collin or Roger in the
moment.
After applying a few in-class strategies, seeing some improvement, followed immediately by
Collin and Roger regressing to their mean, to use a mathematical expression, I asked Collin,
after we had returned to what should be a normal classroom behavior, to see me after class.
I’ll save the rest of the story, my heart-to-heart conversation with Collin and Roger
(separately) when I discuss that specific strategy later on in this report. The end game is this:
after a week of attempting to derail the classroom, and usurp my control, Collin and Roger
learned that we could share the control in the classroom, and that they no longer wanted to
make my life difficult.

F. Self-Evaluation
As far as the use of this strategy in the classroom, my weakness is always following up when
I say I’m going to do something. Typically, I’ll make note of a distraction or disruption that
is on-going, my attempts to re-direct and then follow-up at a later time. I don’t really let the
student, or child, know that I am going to do something about it. I just ask for a short
conversation at their convenience. Though I suppose, the student probably doesn’t need to
know that there is a problem, the mere fact that I want to follow up at a later time is
probably enough.
Strategy #7 (I-messages)

A. Skill/Strategy Description
The next strategy I would like to describe is the “I message”. The I-message is merely a
simple way at providing information in a non-threatening manner and then letting the
recipient decide what they want to do about it. Typically, an I-message will tell the recipient
how one feels, how that makes them feel, and what might happen. As Jim Fay describes on
the audio “23 Quick and Easy Interventions” an I-message does not necessarily have to have
all three parts to be effective. In reality it can be very difficult to make a full I-message that
contains all three parts in the moment.

B. Learning Objectives
I will use “I-messages” liberally within my classroom (and life) as a means of providing
information, rather than falling back on telling someone what to do. The more I practice this
skill the stronger I will become. I will not get down on myself if I find myself relying on old
habits, but I will later go back and reflect on how I could have handled those contexts with
more effective I-messages.

C. Appropriateness of Skill for Targeted Students


People, in general, are very well tuned to people who just tell them what to do. And
conversely people in general react much more positively when others take the time to speak
from a position of strength.

D. Correlation of Strategy to the Conference


Jim Fay in his Wednesday all day session gave many great examples of “I-messages” that I
scribbled in the conference booklet. Some of my favorites include: “I’m not sure how to
react to that. I’ll get back to you” as well as “I wonder what are all the options” and “What
do you think I think”. He juxtaposed the familiar refrain of “You can’t do that” to the
subconscious interpreted meaning of the speaker: “I can’t do that”. Jim attempted, indirectly,
to remind the participants that if we want to elicit positive growth from our followers, then
we need to first change our own mental attitudes at the sub-conscious level.

E. Student Evaluation and Assessment


One of my best uses of an I-message was substituting in a special needs classroom. This was
a classroom where all of the emotionally needy students in the school were grouped
together. One female student liked to show her authority over everyone by cursing more or
less non-stop throughout the class regardless of the wishes of the adults in the classroom.
After listening to non-productive communication for awhile, I decided to wait for a longer
pause in this repartee between student and “adult” and try out an I message.

Not too long I am left with an opportune moment. I calmly stroll up to the student, crouch
down on their level, and angle myself in an in-direct manner, and say this,(my best
paraphrase) “When I hear cursing, I get distracted and I can’t concentrate as well at what I
am doing.” I then got up and walked back to my desk. Immediately on my way back I hear
this loud rejoinder from the student, “You can’t stop me from swearing!”. I was prepared for
this comment and without breaking a sweat replied “That’s ok. I just wanted to share.”
For the next 35 minutes did I hear any swearing from that corner of the room? No. Did that
stop the swearing for the next day? No, of course not. Did we both ‘win’? Yes.

F. Self-Evaluation
I am constantly looking for ways to implement more I-messages in the day-to-day teaching.
One of my favorite expressions is “I am feeling distracted, it is hard for me to teach my best
when I am distracted.” Often I will hear myself communicate some information in the
second or third person and cringe. I just have to bit the bullet and remind myself to reflect
and practice more ways of giving information without using the wrong pronouns. It is a
challenge every day to break in-grained habits.
Strategy #8 (The Therapeutic Errand)

A. Skill/Strategy Description
At the high school level, short-term recovery in the form of a Time Out is just not
appropriate on a developmental level, but sometimes I just want a student to take a minute
away from the classroom without drawing attention to the real reason I want that person
away.

The therapeutic errand is a strategy taken from the audio 23 Quick and Easy Interventions
as well as adapted from Essential Skill #4 from the conference – Short Term Recovery. This
strategy is merely an opportunity for the student to do something positive for me and take a
few steps away from whatever is going on in the classroom.

After a few, perhaps more benign, attempts at redirecting a student have been enacted. I
walk over to a file cabinet and find that one particular file I need, and then slowly walk over
to the offending student, while still asking questions to the class, and quickly and calmly ask
the student “Can you take this to Mr. C in building 4? Thank you!” and then walk away.
When the student returns I make eye contact with the student ask either non-verbally or
quietly “Did it all work out?” and then move along. I want the student to think that I’m
asking about the errand and not about the offending behaviors that unknowingly
precipitated the errand.

B. Learning Objectives
Proper utilization of the therapeutic errand strategy will positively increase the relationship
with the student. The goal of this strategy is to create a large depository of mutually
agreeable events between myself and the student. I want the student to be thinking “Let’s
not make the teacher’s life too hard; he let me walk around school during class. Maybe he
isn’t too bad. Maybe he actually likes me.”

C. Appropriateness of Skill for Targeted Students


Chronically disruptive students typically have low self-concepts and will act out not because
they are bad students but so they have an excuse handy when they receive a progress report
stating they did not perform well. Rather than having a poor self-concept student try to learn
for the sake of his own future, I want to give the student as many reasons to try to learn for
me as possible. I want that student to desire to show me I was right in believing in their
ability.

This is a low-risk, simple activity for a student to feel valued or an extra sense of importance
as well as doing something to please the teacher. In order for this strategy to accomplish the
necessary outcomes I must ensure that I have not attempted to use any threats or negative
statements of frustration with the student. I need to be in control of myself, and always be
thinking of building my relationship with the offending student in order for this strategy to
have the positive effect I am looking.

D. Correlation of Strategy to the Conference


The purpose of the conference was how to have success with extremely challenging and
acting out kids.
E. Student Evaluation and Assessment
Every student I have tried this strategy with has reacted positively in the post-errand
moments – and not just in the current class but future classes as well.

F. Self-Evaluation
Each time that I plan on using this strategy I need to make sure that I plan ahead with 1-3
other staff members about what they could be expecting.
Strategy #9 (Empathetic response, noise)

A. Skill/Strategy Description
I probably should have started with this strategy first. In the classroom curriculum that Jim
and Foster created, this is the very first skill they teach. The empathetic response is a short,
genuine, non-threatening response that neutralizes arguments. This technique is not
supposed to solve problems, but allow the teacher, or leader, to not be sucked into energy
drains or rabbit holes that are not related to the purpose of the classroom. The technique
can be repeated several times during an episode of arguing to reinforce the fact that I am the
leader, I am not interested in this topic, I care about you, but now is not the time for this
topic. Sample dialog: “I’m not doing that!” “uh-huh…(taking a couple steps away)” “You
can’t make me!” “Uh-huh (still backing away)” “It’s not fair. (as the arguer becomes less
aroused)” “I know…(with back turned, moving on)”

B. Learning Objectives
As I implement this strategy I will resist the urge to think as I encounter an attempt to argue.
I will go braindead. I will use very few words – if any. Currently I use the two phrases or
noises: “I know” and “uhh-huh” while trailing off. I will always keep moving. Standing still,
particularly in front of the child, only sends the message that maybe I actually do want to
continue arguing about this irrational topic.

C. Appropriateness of Skill for Targeted Students


This skill maintains the mutual dignity of all parties involved. There is no pressure to “win”
the argument, by making the other party look bad. The arguer sees the leader or authority in
control of his or her actions by acting and speaking with good purpose. The arguer is able to
come back into a rational state on their own accord.

D. Correlation of Strategy to the Conference


This was a favorite strategy of Dr. Charles Fay during the afternoon of the Monday session.

E. Student Evaluation and Assessment


The more I respond with empathy through an empathetic noise the more my students stay
in a thinking state and the less I have to worry about disruptions or distractions that take
away from the goals of the class.

F. Self-Evaluation
I remember one time I used my favorite argument neutralizer on the Special Education
teacher during an IEP meeting. I had just gotten done espousing all the wonderful things
that an IEP student (with emotional disturbances) was doing in my class academically. She
then looks up the grade I had assigned the student for the first semester – an F. She asked
me the innocent question, “But you gave the student a F.” I paused, uttered a “hhmm” and
“I know.” After a couple more moments I went on and explained myself. But it was that
first empathetic statement and pause (which was genuine/authentic) that basically shut the
door on any arguments about my giving an unfair grade.