Support for Teaching Assistants working with Behaviour Concerns

I feel it is time to talk about you for awhile! We will go back to the students later.

So Who Supports You?

Have you got support systems in place?

Do you have someone who you can go to when you’re frustration levels are high or you want to talk about concerns you have?

LET’S START BY TALKING ABOUT PEOPLE WHO COULD SUPPORT YOU!!

At School

LEADERSHIP

The most obvious person would be your line manager! This may be the Deputy Principal or perhaps a higher ranking TA. There are times, however, this person is may be too busy or you feel anxious about going to them for fear of being judged as not coping. Then who do you look too.

CO-WORKERS

This includes both other TAs and teachers. It can be difficult to do this during school time, especially if you are on shadowing duty at recess and lunch. Unfortunately, this means you may need to use your own time after school to sit and have a cuppa to chat or join the teacher in their classroom as they tidy at the end of the day. This was when I used to catch up!

DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION STAFF

By this I mean the departmental staff who deal with disabilities and at times visit the school. It can be difficult to talk to these people if your line manager does not see the advantages of this. I used to try and catch them in the school corridors. I would introduce myself, if they didn’t know me, and let them know the student I worked with. It is very important to have your questions ready for them when you speak to them! These staff are usually thrilled that you are interested enough in the student to ask questions.

GOALS WITH STUDENTS

At first sight this may not seem like a way to support you.

However, it very much is! Too often we are given ‘airy fairy’ goals. You need to ask for very specific goals as to what you are expected to achieve with each student. I remember one student where it was obvious I was having them to give the teacher a break. Apart from that there was little else. We spent the time on whatever I could find to do. This girl is my third daughter and she has ended up with little education, I’m guessing because this happened her whole schooling, and now she is having trouble getting ahead as far as tertiary study or employment.

My regret is I wasn’t more assertive to ask for specific goals for her!

STUDENTS FILES

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I found these invaluable! It was interesting reading previous teacher’s reports and ‘reading between the lines’ sometimes about what they were saying.

You may be able to get access to the files directly or you could ask the teacher get the file for you to let you have a read.

I’m going to leave it there for this week!

I’d love you to let me know if this has been of any help or given any new insights for you!

Until next week it’s bye for now!

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Behaviours You May Face

 

  1. Tantrums
  2. Sulking
  3. Running Away
  4. Fighting.
  5. Hurting Others – both students and staff
  6. Hiding under desks(Vector toons)
  7. Knocking over furniture
  8. Oppositional – refusal to do what asked
  9. Climbing trees
  10. Climbing on roof
  11. Screaming
  12. Hand over ears
  13. Can be compliant one day and oppositional the next
  14. Anger

 

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With all these behaviours going on it can be very difficult for you and teachers to cope! 

THE BIGGEST THING TO REMEMBER IS:

KEEP CALM AT ALL TIMES!!!!garfield-1

Easier said than done I know! However, if you show your emotions are running high it makes their meltdown worse! Yes, I said meltdown not tantrum, there is a difference!

My emotions could be running crazy but I learnt not to show it. After all grown ups are always suppose to be okay as far as children are concerned!

I’m really dismayed when I hear stories of leadership yelling at students to do the right thing when they are in full meltdown mode! This only makes them feel worse as they feel they are being traumatised.

Later I will discuss the difference between the meltdown and tantrums.

 

 

 

The Students

Let’s begin talking about the students you may be working with!

I have a theory about them. Whether they have a diagnosis or not they are suffering from trauma! Yes, every one of them has a form of trauma!

It can be from extreme circumstances, as in knowing your father drowned your baby sibling (yes, I have worked with a student, who was aged eight and knew this), to what seems mild to us, as in knowing they are different when suffering from ADHD or Asperger’s Syndrome.

Peter A. Levine (Ph.d) writes in his book ‘Trauma Through a Child’s Eyes’, something as simple as falling off their bike can create a trauma in some children,’affecting them for years to come’. Levine believes the trauma can sometimes be traced back to a difficult birth.

When I said some students are traumatised by knowing they are different this is often because of bullying! (123RF Stock Photos)

And while on the subject of bullying, many students, whether they have a diagnosis or not, carry the scars of bullying, and so feel traumatised. An example of this is a child I met recently who while in Year 3 began rapidly putting on weight. This brought about bullying from other students! The students who did this were dealt with very well by the school, however the one being bullied has been displaying violent behaviour ever since, when at school. Is this child traumatised by the experience? In my opinion, yes!vector illustrations

(Vector Illustration)

With all this talk of students being traumatised please remember it’s not your job to find what has caused the trauma. However, it may help you empathise in those times they are driving you crazy!!!

An article I found interesting reading on this subject was from Greater Good Magazine, called ‘How to Help a Traumatized Child in the Classroom’ (October 23rd, 2013).

I especially liked point 5! Take care of yourself!!!!’ 

I’m hoping this may give you some insight into the students you work with!

Next time I will go into the behaviours and diagnoses the students may have.

Experience and Training

Hope you gained some insight into who I am from the last post. If you go to my About Me page you will see some more!

Thought it would be good to let you know what experience and training I have had!

Experience

  • Parent of children with behaviour concerns.
  • Six years working in South Australian primary schools, with students who had behaviour concerns, as a Teacher Assistant/SSO.
  • (freecraftunlimited)girl-desk2
  • Then another four years, still in South Australian primary schools, as a Pastoral Care Worker.
  • Then intertwined in these years I did some work for Dept. of Child Protection in South Australia as a ‘Tutor’. Which really meant trying to keep the students calm while in school.  Plus I was an unqualified Director for Out of School Hours Care for 12 months in one of the schools I worked in.
  • (Istockphoto.com)anxious boy

Qualifications

  • Counselling Theories
  • Peacewise -principles of dealing with conflict
  • ‘Play is the Way – a philosophy of self regulation
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder with Sue Larkey *
  • Responding to Conflict without being Overwhelmed *
  • Maslow’s Theory of Needs *
  • Responding to Critical Incident
  • Looking after Yourself as the Counsellor
  • Intro to Mental Health First Aid
  • Supporting Children with Learning Difficulties *
  • Mind Matters level one
  • How to Handle Students with ADHD *
  • Celebrating Connectiveness and Building Resilience
  • Basics of Asperger’s update*
  • SMART Training level 1&2*
  • Mentoring Skills*
  • Basic Skills in Counselling

Those with an asterisk I recommend for SSOs/TAs if at all possible.

The training above was done while I was a Pastoral Care Worker.  Some paid for by the school others by my employing body.

images training

Following are from my days as an SSO/TA.

  • Certificate in Life Coaching (I did this at my own expense)
  • Tactics in the Classroom for Students with Asperger’s Syndrome, ADHD, and ODD
  • John Joseph Brain Theory
  • Restorative Justice Foundations and Principles of Everyday Life
  • Attachment Theory
  • Box Full of Feelings
  • Promoting Positive Behaviour
  • Asperger’s and High Functioning Autism in the Mainstream Classroom
  • How to survive Challenging Behaviours in the Classroom
  • Kid’s in Crisis (This also done at my own expense)

On top of my training I found other resources such as:

  • The Book – Understanding ADHD by Dr Christopher Green
  • Kids Matter (SA)
  • Special Education Resource Unit (SA)
  • Taming Anger (South Australian Education Dept.)

I’m sure there are other resources about that would be helpful too!

Hope this gives you enough confidence in my skills and knowledge to come back and see what I have to offer in my future posts.

Talk to you again soon!

 

 

 

Introduction

Why another blog?

Teacher Assistants, Education Assistants, School Service Officers, or any other title you may have, have a difficult job with students who have behaviour concerns. (This doesn’t mean teachers don’t have a difficult job. I think we would all recognise they do as well. However, I’m especially talking to TAs here.)

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You can often feel isolated when handling these behaviours and you often have little or no training behind you.

I know the newer TAs may have completed an Education Support Certificate. and this would go some way to assisting you to deal with the behaviour concerns. However, I’m not sure this helps with all of the issues you face.Angry Kid

 

 

 

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I have had 10 years experience working specifically with students who had these concerns. It was during a time when schools had enough money to pay for great training.

But let me start at the beginning!

I have 3 daughters, all who have had behaviour concerns! And before you judge please hear my story.

(mzayat.com)sad girl

Daughter number 1:

My eldest daughter is now 33 years old. When she began school, she was in an open plan class setting. She would often complain of not being able to work out the teacher’s instructions when given to the whole class. 

I took her to an occupational therapist, who told me messages went into her brain but got jumbled there. REMEMBER this was before all the diagnoses we have these days. After learning through my own reading about Asperger’s Syndrome I began treating her as if she had Asperger’s. It has only been the last 12 months, yes at the age 33 years I have realised she has Auditory Processing Disorder. And with the frustrations of this she had her episodes of behaviour concerns.

angry blond(weclipart.com)

Daughter number 2:

Always a girl with behaviour concerns! Diagnosed with ADHD! I had always treated her as if she had ADHD, but she was not diagnosed until age fourteen, at her request. I was also told by a professional she had ‘abandonment issues’. That was more likely because of our family situation at the time. However, I knew very little of what this title meant.

IMG_0047(Vector Toons)

 Daughter number 3:

My youngest daughter I only met when she was 8 years of age. Let’s just say she had some major behaviour concerns and I was her support worker in her school. Her issues stemmed from abandonment and trauma. The rest of her story  is for her to tell, apart from the fact she was one of my first guinea pigs when I began work in this field.

It was because of my birth daughters that I developed an interest in this area and was then lucky enough to work with the students I did.