This time of year can be tough, for kids and teachers. As the end of term approaches expectations increase, workload is high and patience is short. Up here in the Great White North, it's often dark when we leave for work and dark when we come home; it's cold and snowy and everything - from getting dressed to starting the car - requires one extra step (or 5 - coats, snowpants, mitts, toques, boots...so.much.clothing). All of this comes together to equal the perfect storm of stress and pressure for all of us. This is the time of year when kids with challenging behaviours flare and teachers have less patience for their antics. So, what's a support teacher to do? Read, of course!
This week for IMWAYR I wanted to share two books I have been (slowly) making my way through in an effort to find ways to support some of our struggling students. They have both caused me to think deeply about my practices, my beliefs and the alignment between the two. They also have me pondering ways we can change our support systems as whole to ensure success for all students.
Children Who Fail at School But Succeed At Life: Lessons from Lives Well-Lived - Mark Katz - The title of this book grabbed me right away. I have always felt that educators revert to a doom and gloom, they're never going to make anything of themselves attitude towards students who struggle in school (which makes me so sad, but sometimes their struggles are so great that it is hard to see beyond the present moment). This book tells the story of these kids once they leave school and make their way in the real world. Katz shares 5 "erroneous perceptions" that are at once so obvious and so ingrained that you realize how much of an obstacle they present to changing out mindset around struggling learners. It also presents different ways that we can support students so that they are successful earlier (my favourite suggestion? More labels. We need to outweigh the negative labels - learning disability, behaviour problem, etc. - with positive ones - leader, friend, coder, artist, etc.). It isn't an easy read; although Katz aims for a conversational tone he often ends up striking a much more academic one. The case studies are fantastic however and the book is rich with ways to support our students on their paths to success.
Lost & Found: Helping Behaviorally Challenging Students (And While You're At It, All the Others) - Ross W. Greene This book is basically a roadmap for using Ross Greene's Collaborative Problem Solving (CPS) method in schools. This method resonates with me on so many levels, so beginning to explore and implement it via this book has been wonderful. It is an easier read than Katz's book but is still so information-dense that I am finding I need to read it in chunks, practice a bit and then come back to it. The case studies and examples are extremely helpful and there are really nice chapter summaries at the end. I have always believed in involving kids in discussions about their behaviour, working with them to find solutions that are meaningful and mutually agreed upon. This book not only affirms that belief but gives me a way to structure it to be most successful (feel like I've used that word a lot!).
Both of these books are the types of books that I wish I could distill and make sure everyone knew and understood what they were all about. The next best thing is to share them here so that more people know about them, read them and begin to shift there thinking!
I'm Bryn, teacher, mom, book lover, athlete. I am passionate about living life with my family, teaching and learning something new all the time. I hope you find something that speaks to you here on my blog and would love to hear from you too!