Tagged “Mental Health”

Mary Fowler

Observe to Stop “Beliefing”

Read the first, second, and third posts in this series.

"The basis of all good human behavior is kindness." —Eleanor Roosevelt

It's a curiously human trait to cling to beliefs based on assumptions and preconceived notions. What we tell ourselves about what's going on with a student's behavior matters greatly and sometimes gravely. Negative beliefs and attributions are known drama enhancers. Not sure you believe this statement? Recall a recent unpleasant interpersonal experience—perhaps with a partner, close friend, your teenager, or a toddler. What do you notice in your body? Tension or ease? More or less anger? Did the argument solve the problem? I mean, really solve it?

My zero-tolerance war on Section 8C felt powerfully good while I planned it. It provided some momentary satisfaction as one by one my students crossed the line and reaped the fruits of my reaction. For a brief moment, I even thought their behavior proved the point that they were "deliberately disrespectful" and had caused my reaction. Of course, the joke was on me. In the end, I still had the behavior, one less coercive trick up my sleeve, and needy 8th grade students who had to take the test.

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Mary Fowler

The Power of 3: ATrauma-Informed Approach to Dial Down Reaction

Read the first and second posts in this series.

"The more mindful we are, the more choices we have and the less reactive we become." —Ellen Langer

In my workshops, I often invite participants to draw a large circle on the back of my handouts. They listen diligently to the instructions. When complete, I ask everyone to hold their papers up so I can "check their circles." They then place the paper on a flat surface. "Now," I say, "put your forehead in the middle of the circle. Raise it up. Lower it down. Repeat. Keep repeating." That's what I call "mindlessness."

Using a combination of intervention and prevention strategies known to dial down reaction and build resource capacity, we can indeed help students and ourselves improve the ability to accurately assess threat potential, improve appraisal skills, and build the resource capacity to increase resilience.

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Mary Fowler

Core Stability: What I Didn’t Know About Section 8C

Read the first post in this series.

I should tell you now that what happened in the end with Section 8C could be called a success story. That class turned out to be my most defining experience in education. Educators knew so little back then about the brain or stress reactions. I flew by the seat of my pants, followed my gut, and remained determined to reach and teach this group of learners. To do that, I had to feel them, to sense them, and what might set them off.

In this class of 28 learners, most of these students had rich histories of adverse childhood experiences. The child study team (CST) might easily have classified 10 as emotionally disturbed. Mental health professionals might diagnose them with post traumatic stress reaction or some other mental disorder. Believe me, there were so many times I wanted the CST to take these kids, fix them, and send them back in a "teachable" condition. How I laugh at this reaction now!

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Mary Fowler

Dial Down Reactive Behavior—Theirs and Ours!

You might have heard the old joke about the guy who goes up to a doctor at a party. "Doc," he says as he pokes his stomach, "Whenever I touch this spot it hurts. What should I do?"

"Stop touching it," the doctor replies. We laugh at the slapstick humor with its obvious simplistic solution for the suffering man's dilemma. Yet, somehow, when it comes to classroom management or working with a challenging student, we know we shouldn't do a lot of the things we do that poke an already delicate situation. Nonetheless, when buttons get pushed, we feel the unpleasant sensation that follows and get triggered into reaction. I know. I had Section 8C. Believe me—there was a whole lot of touchy-feely sensation going on with that class.

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Kevin Parr

Approaching Student Achievement Like a Forest Fire

It has been another active fire season here out West and once again firefighters have been attacking the fires systematically and efficiently. As a teacher it is interesting to look at the way these fires are attacked. The contrast to the way problems are attacked in education is staggering.

In wildland firefighting when the problem (the fire) becomes big enough, a two-pronged attack is launched. Firefighters coordinate their efforts to fight the fire from both the ground and air. In contrast, when the problem in education (student achievement, mainly) gets big, the most common response is to narrow the range of approaches. By and large this usually means demanding more time strictly devoted to teaching the critical academic subjects (math and reading) at the expense of everything else.

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Melanie Olmstead

Redemption for Educators!

Educators may bear the brunt of school performance criticisms, but the public's opinion of educators is on the rise, with the majority of Americans believing that educators teach students well and keep them safe. More than 70 percent of Americans have trust and confidence in the men and women who teach in public schools, according to the 45th annual Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup poll (PDF) on the public's attitude toward public schools. Eighty-eight percent of parents feel their children are safe at school—the highest figure ever recorded by the poll—compared to the 66 percent who believe their children are safe playing in their neighborhood.

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Start Empathy

Image vs. Reality: A Lesson for the 7th Grader in All of Us

Post written by Emily Cherkin for Ashoka's Start Empathy Initiative, a whole child partner organization.

When I tell people I work with 7th graders, I often hear, "Oh, wow. ... I'm so sorry!" They tell me how miserable their seventh grade year was. Sometimes I hear, "It takes a certain person to work with that age group..." before their voice trails off, uncertainly.

I am usually bemused, at turns slightly offended, but mostly, I understand. Because I remember how hard 7th grade was for me, which is exactly why I so love working with this age group now.

As a part-time teacher and a full-time mom, I have been working with 7th graders for the past few years on a curriculum focusing on media literacy and anti-bullying.

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ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

Make All Students Feel Special

ASCD Annual Conference and Exhibit Show

Post written by Rachel Syms, a native of Los Angeles who moved to Chicago to pursue a degree in journalism at Columbia College. She hopes to write for a magazine after graduation.

"How many of you, yourselves, were challenging, disruptive, or unmotivated back when you were in school?" That's the question Brian Mendler, adjunct professor at St. John Fisher College in New York, asked the room full of educators attending his 2013 ASCD Annual Conference session, "Motivate and Manage a Differentiated Classroom."

Mendler, author of The Taming of the Crew and coauthor of Strategies for Successful Classroom Management and Discipline with Dignity, admits that as a child he struggled with his disruptive behavior in the classroom and a severe learning disability that interfered with his reading capabilities. He says that he was able to get through school until the 4th grade, when faking it became a problem because of a difficult teacher he didn't get along with. Mendler says the teacher mocked him, called him lazy and unmotivated, and told him to try harder. After being labeled "emotionally disturbed" following a disagreement with the teacher, he was placed into self-contained special education for two years.

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Kristen Pekarek

Better Mental Health = More Successful Students

According to current statistics, fewer than 10 percent of children who identify as needing mental health services get them within three months of the recommendation. This is a startling statistic that proves our mental health system for children is as fragile as the at-risk youth it is intended to serve.

The good news is that a new national conversation is happening around the importance of children's mental health, and a recent report, Improving Access to Children's Mental Health Care: Lessons from a Study of Eleven States, authored by experts from George Washington University's Center for Health and Health Care in Schools and funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, highlights ways in which policymakers, advocates, and service providers must work together to elevate children's mental health on the public agenda.

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ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

Transforming Learning and Teaching Through the Pedagogy of Confidence

ASCD Annual Conference and Exhibit Show

Post written by Jessica DuBois-Maahs, a Medill School of Journalism candidate at Northwestern University concentrating in finance reporting and interactive publishing. Starting this month, she will be a business reporter for MediaTec Publishing in Chicago, Ill.

Yvette Jackson believes that the labeling of students and schools is a detriment to education. Having worked in schools labeled "underperforming" and with students labeled "underachieving," Jackson says that such negative constructs yield disastrous results for both teachers and students.

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