Based on a collaboration dating back nearly a decade, the authors—a behavioural analyst and a child psychiatrist—reveal their systematic approach for deciphering causes and patterns of difficult behaviours and how to match them with proven strategies for getting students back on track to learn.
Teaching the Most Challenging Students:
The authors focus on the four most challenging students in our classrooms: students with anxiety-related, op-positional, withdrawn, and sexualized behaviours. The book concentrates on strategies for the K-6 grade levels because elementary teachers have more inclusive classrooms than teachers of older students some of which have a diagnosis and have specialised support. Secondly the earlier these young students are helped to overcome their inappropriate behaviours, the more likely they are to improve and reach their full potential.
By learning to understand what they are trying to communicate, you are encouraging them to find alternative behaviours so they can thrive. Breaking the behaviour code and shaping the environment will allow these students to develop the necessary tools to thrive.
What are the strategies suggested?
The authors call their behaviour intervention plan the FAIR Plan and it has four elements:
- Functional hypothesis of behavior where teachers document behaviors and make hypothesis about what the student is communication through his behavior.
- Accommodations that need to be in place to help the student function better.
- Interactive strategies that will promote desired behavior.
- Response strategies that may be considered if prevention efforts fail.
The goal is to break the behaviour code and shape the child’s environment to allow them to develop the necessary tools to thrive. The suggestions made are immediately doable, very practical, and written for all caregivers and educators to understand clearly. Many of the solutions suggested can be applied to the home setting also. In the following example parents could use this tactic for getting homework done just as teachers can use it to get school work started and worked on, ” It is helpful to be open-minded about how to deliver academics to your most inflexible students. Embedding choice in academic demands will help a student comply. Examples include allowing the student to pick the order of assignments, the materials to use, or a place to sit for working. Assignments that emphasise process and quality rather than quantity and the end product are a better match for these students.”
Features of the Book:
The authors give teachers lots of support to implement the Fair Plan which they say can be empowering to teachers. The book has FAIR Plan worksheets and these templates should guide the development of a plan for an individual student.
- You will find well organised chapters with tables, charts, grey information boxes, graphs, statistics, bulleted lists, and chapter summaries.
- The book is very interesting, easy to read and to understand. Then keep it handy to use as a go-to resource book for years to come.
- Chapter 7 answers twelve commonly asked questions that school staffs have posed over the years.
- The last twenty-three pages are numerous appendices that teachers can customise to implement some of the strategies in the FAIR Plan.
- The authors identify their expert sources lending authority to their assertions. Over 200 end-notes appear in a section at the end of the book.
- The index provides immediate access to the important terms, concepts and statistics scattered throughout the book, quickly and efficiently. The index has headings and subheadings that are concise, accurate and unambiguous, reflecting the contents and terminology used in the book.
Are the teachers just crying wolf?
Some parents and, dare I say, some school administrators do not seem to believe their teachers when they say that disruptive students, and hence their entire classes, need help. Every time a student acts in a way that is disruptive and is interfering with his learning (socially or academically), the teachers’ ability to teach, or others’ ability to learn, it is a serious matter. If some readers also were not sure about this, the authors should have convinced them with the many statistics inserted here and there.
Here are a few:
- About 10 % of the school population struggles with mental health problems.
- About 5% of school-age children engage in disruptive behavior at school.
- Only 20% of students ages 14 to 21 with emotional and behavioral disturbances (E/BD) receive a high school diploma.
- After high school, only 30% of students with E/BD were employed and 58 % were arrested.
- 3 to 5% of children and teens have depression.