. Regurgitated Alpha Bits: Mimi Fights the Good Fight

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Mimi Fights the Good Fight

There was an interesting discussion going on over in It's Not All Flowers and Sausages about the appropriate way to address a situation with a disruptive child. Looks like this topic is a hot one!

Mimi shares a story about a child in her class that routinely disrupts the other children. When she notices some of her students reaching their breaking points with him, she decides to have a class sit-down and allow students to share how this child's behavior makes them feel.

Handled poorly, class meetings can be disastrous. But in true Mimi fashion, it was handled with concern and a dedication to making the experience positive and educational for everyone. No blaming, name-calling, or hurtful language was allowed. The only thing students could share was their feelings. We call this kind of a dialogue "Using I-Messages," and it is an encouraged method of student mediation in schools.

Children are wonderful, generous, awe-inspiring little people who, let's admit it, can at times be a bit unaware of how their actions impact other people's lives. Kids are, by nature, selfish at times. That's part of growing up and learning how to live with others. By having a class meeting about the issues, she empowered her students to share their feelings in a positive way instead of allowing it to fester until someone takes the kid out behind the jungle gym and takes their feelings out on his face (which was bound to happen.)

A few of the responses to her blog suggested that this was "singling out" a student and putting him on the spot in an unfair way. I would suggest that he was unknowingly singling himself out in very negative ways and was doing so blissfully unaware of how it was hurting others.

Of course this child is not self-aware enough at his young age to understand why he acts out, and it's our job as professionals to help him make better choices. That takes time. In the meantime, it would be unfair of us to expect other students to simply tolerate him without equipping them with the tools to address their feelings positively. Mimi did just that.

One final note, many responses suggested that this child might have learning disabilities or emotional disabilities that have gone undiagnosed, and Mimi should be mindful of that.

To be blunt: No Duh!

CLEARLY, this kid has some issues. Even if he were diagnosed, he still would not be allowed to trample over other students' right to a safe environment. His teacher would still need to address the misbehavior issues. Parents and teachers understand that a diagnosis is not a free-pass to hurt others, and most teachers can spot a child who needs extra attention without the benefit of a diagnosis. Mimi does not need an IEP to tell her she has a special-needs child here. I'm positive she'll take every step necessary to help him, and the rest of her class, have a successful year both academically and emotionally.


Deven Black said...

I think you (and Mimi) have hit the nail on the head. I especially like, and agree with, your observation that the student in question already singles himself out through his actions, and allowing the other students to address him in a structured, safe environment is doing him, and the other students, a great service.

I am a middle school special education teacher and I deal with a lot of students who have emotional disabilities. We ALWAYS try to make them see and understand the impact their actions have on the people around them (including us), and we ALWAYS strive to protect the other students (and professionals) from the actions of the student who is acting out.

Anonymous said...

Hooray for you! And Mimi! Thanks for supporting a fellow teacher with such positive and wonderful comments. Keep it up.
Mystery Teacher

Anonymous said...

As a new teacher I thought what Mimi did was inspiring! After all, one our jobs is to teach our kiddos how to deal with conflict constructively. This was a great way to model how to face an issue in a nice way....because, let's face it, most of them aren't learning how to do it at home.

Melissa B. said...

Reflecting upon your sentiments, I do believe we should hire a passel of kids to wrangle this economic bailout thing for us. Whaddaya think?