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Week 11 (April 8-14): Solution-finding Practices

  1. Reflect on ways the suggestions in the article about authoritative practices can be used in school setting. What challenges and barriers may there be?
  2. How may knowing about what goes on in the inside kid influence your thinking about consequences for rule “violations” in the school setting? How receptive would other teachers be to understanding the inside kid? What can you do to teach them about the inside kid?

14 thoughts on “Week 11 (April 8-14): Solution-finding Practices

  1. As the article states, “Authoritative parents take a different, more moderate approach that emphasizes setting high standards, being nurturing and responsive, and showing respect for children as independent, rational beings. The authoritative parent expects maturity and cooperation, and offers children lots of emotional support.” I think that all of these aspects are just as important, if not more important in the educational setting as they are at home. I think that most teachers are authoritative when things are relatively calm. I think that it is when we “flip our lids” or we aren’t engaging our thinking brain is when we start being authoritarian. I think it is important in our classrooms to treat children with respect, and that it is given, not earned. All humans, children and adults alike deserve respect. I also love the idea of reasoning with the students. Often times when one of my students is having trouble following a school or classroom rule, I try to explain the “why” behind the rule, so they understand better.
    Reading the article about Dennis made me really think about how our school handles discipline. In our school, if we go to an administrator for advice, it usually leads to a consequence for the child, even though that wasn’t what we were seeking in the first place. Because of this, I often try to handle everything I can, in the classroom, or with my grade level teachers. I think that like in Dennis’ story, many of the “troubled” kids, are not just being jerks, there is something else going on. I think that many teachers have experienced the situations where you learn about the home situation, so you let the little things slide, and you are more understanding. The administrators, on the other hand (in my school) are very quick to hand out suspensions and consequences without even trying to think about that inside kid.
    One of the things that I think we should do as teachers is to try to find out about the inside kid. Whether that is just being more observant, or building a relationship with every kid, whatever it takes, I feel like it is necessary. I don’t think that just because something is going on at home that you should be held accountable for your actions, but at least we can try to understand what emotions are driving that behavior. With solution focused, or strengths based practices, we can focus on the awesome parts of each student, which can help too.

    1. Carmen,

      While I agreed with everything in your post, I especially related to what you wrote about the “inside kid” and how we, as teachers, should do more to find out about that inner child. I’ve felt frustrated over the the course of the past year because I feel like this course, coupled with our previous trauma-informed care exposure, has made us more aware of the “inside kid” within each of our students. I wish that this type of training/coursework was mandatory in teacher preparation programs because I do genuinely feel that it would change the landscape of what we, as teachers, encounter with behavior problems and how to address them. I think we would also see more of the “superior” results mentioned in both articles from this week.
      Growing up, I know that there were times that I acted out in school because of what was going on at home. Whether it was my parents’ divorce or the physical and emotional abuse that was going on at home, I certainly acted out in different ways and at different points throughout my education. I was fortunate enough to have teachers who recognized those issues and tried to talk to me about them on a personal level. They were able to identify what was going on at home and help me figure out how I could develop stronger, interpersonal relationships. It is my hope that in the future, today’s teachers learn how to do the same because those are the teachers that become most memorable in a student’s mind.

    2. Hi Carmen,
      I really liked reading about how you spend time explaining the “why” behind the rules to your students. I think that is a great way to give the students “voice and choice”, and also a great way to be fair and respectful in your discipline. Holding the bar high for our students is important, but it is also important to help them realize they have the ability to reach that bar.
      I agree that we start becoming authoritarian when our thinking brain is not engaged. We lose the ability to reason ourselves. The students see that, and that is what they come to expect. Respect should be given to all students, even the toughest ones who constantly push every button we have. I think about the saying, to get respect, you have to give respect. If we don’t respect our students, they don’t respect us. There is a big difference between respect and fear.

  2. As I read the article about authoritative practices, I recognized several parallels between what home life and school life could look like if the authoritative approach to working with children was adopted in both settings. The word “responsive” appeared several times throughout the article when defining what the authoritative style looks like. I wish that a more responsive mindset was adopted more in our school building, but truth be told, most adults I’ve observed are reactive and quick to punish students for undesired behaviors, rather than responding to them and trying to understand why those behaviors were demonstrated. A challenge that we’ve encountered at NKMS is that rules are set throughout the school, however the reasons for those policies aren’t always explained to students. There is a lack of inductive discipline and I think because of that, we have noticed an increase in behavior problems – particularly defiance – in our building. This, in turn, creates frustration amongst teachers because they would like administration to be creating a more authoritative climate. In reflecting on the challenges and barriers of this style, I realized that the idea of authoritative practices could be intimidating to some teachers. The article states, it “reflects a balance between two values – freedom and responsibility” (Dewar, 2017, p. 1). Creating a more democratic setting where students are given more voice and choice could seem like a recipe for disaster and may instill fear within the teacher of losing control of their classroom. I’ve noticed, however, that when I encourage my students to be more independent, teaching and learning becomes easier on both ends. When students are given some autonomy in the classroom, I’ve also found they are more likely to do what they are supposed to. In a larger context, I wish our students could make more contributions to the policies within our building. As adults, we are constantly setting expectations for students to demonstrate maturity but they are rarely given a voice when those rules are created. This year, a student council committee was created to help address this problem, but in talking to the students who are members, it sounds like very little gets accomplished and ultimately it is the adults, administrators and teachers who are dominating the meetings.
    In reading the article about Dennis, I started to think more about the “inside kid” in all of our students. Because of this class, I’ve become more aware of my responses to students when they are exhibiting undesired behaviors or are acting out, but I know my colleagues have not had the same training or coursework to help them do the same. The entire time I was reading, all I could think about how many ACEs Dennis had and how that likely predetermined a lot of the issues he experienced later on in his life. I also tied what I was reading back into Dr. Laursen’s table of basic needs for students. It wasn’t until Dennis had a sense of belonging, contribution and autonomy that he began to succeed and make solid, lasting relationships. I think it is especially important for teachers and administrators alike to understand what ACEs are and the impact they can have on the whole child. It could also help foster stronger relationships between students and teachers in the building. In learning more about what adverse childhood experiences are and how to identify them, I think teachers would be able to respond, rather than react to a student’s behaviors.

    1. Emma, I completely agree with everything you mentioned in your response. I love how you made the point that, while giving students autonomy/voice and choice can seem intimidating, it ultimately makes out jobs easier because it does eliminate some of the behaviors we might have seen when we were teaching in a more authoritarian manner. I feel like the training we have received should be mandatory for anyone that works with children.
      One other thing that really struck me was when you said that we want our students to be mature, but we rarely give them the voice and choice to exhibit or grow in their maturity. I completely agree, and I think a perfect example of where this becomes a problem is a recent issue that came about when students wanted to do a “walk out” peaceful protest at school. It is our goal as educators for our students to leave us better than they started, and to learn to have a voice and be able to make their own educated decisions, but then we stifle their voices, and give consequences for students who do take that opportunity to express themselves. (My sister attends Hanover High School, and they were given an unexcused absence for their class if they chose to participate in the walk out.)

    2. Emma,
      You made some great points in your post! I agree that most schools have an established set of rules that are followed through consistently, however, the piece of student understanding and acceptance is often a major piece that is missing. As we’re getting into the stressful (SOL) part of the school year, I think teachers are feeling the increased pressure, which is causing more reactive responses. I teach across the hallway from third grade, and I have heard comments that come across as authoritarian, such as “I do not have to explain myself as the teacher. You do what I ask and don’t ask questions.” I know the teachers are good teachers, but I feel like the missing piece of this entire stressful situation could be aided by responsive practices and an authoritative approach. I wholeheartedly agree that when students have a voice and choice about what they are involved in, they are much more likely to reach the desired outcomes. Involving students in the process and planning stages is a great way to allow these voices and choices to be heard!

  3. Discipline has always been, and will continue to be, a hot button topic. Whether you are talking about parenting styles or teaching styles, there will inevitably be a conversation about how discipline is used. Even in this class, we had a conversation about the disciplinary measures that were used with us as we were growing up. One thing that stuck with me during our class conversation on discipline was the thought that we do not remember the actual discipline, but we remember the reason. Our class discussion centered on the fact that most of our discipline when we were young was supported and followed up with parents who then demonstrated how much they cared about us. Reading the article about authoritative versus authoritarian parenting made me realize how much of a difference there was between these two styles of dealing with behaviors.
    Authoritative parents are responsive, involved and nurturing. The article explains it as a balance between the two values of freedom and responsibility. The authoritative parents strive to encourage independence while fostering self-discipline, maturity and respect. These are similar to the key principles of the responsive classroom, which strives to help students learn a set of emotional competencies. While some teachers are embracing these practices, others are clinging to the old ways of being authoritarian, and fostering a sense of blind obedience. I think that one of the biggest challenges to using authoritative practices within the school setting is a lack of training and support to teachers on how to be responsive. Teachers are always being asked to learn something new, and many of them feel overwhelmed on a daily basis with what they already have to do. Adding another thing to their plates can be met with resistance. Teachers also have a tendency to be reactive instead of responsive, which is also a barrier to authoritative classroom management.
    The article about Dennis was an example of how easily a child can become lost in the circumstances of their lives. Dennis was unable to make meaningful connections, and never had a sense of belonging. He desperately searched for some way to connect, but he just continued to spiral in the wrong direction. His need to connect to something was most likely the reason he carried that tiny picture of himself through all of his incarcerations. It represented his “inside kid”; where he started. In all of the time that Dennis spent moving through his childhood and adolescence, that inside kid got buried deeper, but was still there. I think that is the most important reason for teachers and others who work with children to build relationships with students; in an effort to understand and get to know the kid inside each of their students. This understanding can help us become more responsive in our classrooms. It may help us develop consequences that address the underlying reason for the rule violation, instead of a “one size fits all” approach to discipline.
    I think that we could convince more teachers to try to understand the inside kid, if we could show them how putting in the work initially will help them in the long run. My school is a PBIS school, and we are working hard to establish school and classroom practices that help teachers get to know their kids in a different way. We have seen results in classrooms that consistently use PBIS practices, and the teachers who are using the strategies are happy with the results. Using Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports hasn’t fixed all of our discipline issues, but I think it has moved us in the direction of being authoritative. There are still teachers in the building that need convincing, because they view it as permissive instead of responsive. Helping teachers focus on “what is strong, not what is wrong” is difficult, but using strength based assessments can help those teachers get to know the inner child in their students.

    1. Marchia, you made some really good points in your response. I agree that discipline is always a hot topic and I think that people are very passionate one way or the other. I also agree that, unfortunately, teachers feel like learning about the inside kid, or trying to implement more responsive vs reactive methods into their classroom is just another thing. I think it is important that we start to educate teachers about the importance of the “inside kid” before they even start teaching. I know that as an undergrad student, I was never taught about how to handle situations like the ones we discuss in class, or that we have even experienced in our own classrooms. I think that it will definitely take a paradigm shift for some teachers to get on board with this idea of being authoritative, and responsive.

    2. Marchia,
      I agree that teachers are constantly asked to undertake new things within their classroom, which could create a massive barrier to adopting an authoritative mindset. I myself have had the thought, “Oh great, another Professional Development on _____!” However, you are absolutely right in saying that there is a lack of training in how to be responsive versus reactive. I think we can all understand by now that unless the “inside kid” is ready to learn, the outside kid – who can be seen on the surface level, will face challenges to be successful in their everyday encounters. I agree that PBIS is a great first step towards becoming a more responsive school overall. I was able to serve on the PBIS team for the first time this year and we were in a transition year with a principal, guidance counselor, and many other members of the PBIS team, so we essentially started over, but I am eager to see where we can continue to take these strategies next year and share with teachers effective ways to try and reach the inside kid.

  4. Marchia,

    I really enjoyed reading your post. I was lucky to have parents who used an authoritative style in raising my sisters and I. I, too, recalled our class discussions when planning how to write this blog post and I feel like what you wrote was especially accurate: we do not remember the actual discipline from our childhood, but we remember the reasons for it. Any time that I got into trouble growing up, there was never just a consequence. There was a conversation as well. I was not perfect. I was not without my own flaws and there were times that my parents had to not only discuss consequences with me but also explain why they were being given. I really, truly do remember these conversations more than I do the consequences. My parents also made sure that I was involved in the process of coming up with consequences. If there was ever an issue with academics or my personal life, my parents would ask for my opinion on what the consequence should be before they gave one. I commend my parents on this practice not only because of how progressive it was but because of the fact that they were divorced as well. I think that because of this, I have become more independent, self-aware and stronger as a teacher. It is my hope that by using similar practices, that I can pass along the same characteristics to my own students.

  5. Reflecting on the “inside kid” is something that I have thought about since we discussed it in class at the beginning of the semester. We as educators know that our students are harboring so much more than can ever be seen, just as the article by Freado, Bussell, and McCombie share about Dennis. This article, as well as our discussions and readings in class, made me think of the iceberg metaphor. If we compare our students to an iceberg, what we can see on the surface (physically, emotionally, socially) is just the tip of the iceberg that is above water, when in reality, the majority of the child’s makeup is “beneath the surface”. I am eager to continue to learn strategies to build relationships with my students and acquire strategies to reach the inside kid, the part that is beneath the surface. Adopting an authoritative role as a parent or educator, adults strive to be the “guide on the side” for children to learn and grow from experiences. Adults can respond to student needs expressed in a variety of ways by digging deeper to find the root or cause of the issue. Alternatively, I think one challenge for authoritative practices to be adopted in schools is an outdated mindset that some educators may possess that as the teacher, they should strictly be authoritarian and expect the students to follow all rules, without question, and if a student missteps, there is a consequence to follow to correct the behavior. A barrier to adopting authoritative practices would be getting all different personalities and teaching styles that makeup any staff on board. Teachers would need adequate training to become more responsive to students, rather than reactive. Time to adopt this new philosophy may vary for teachers, but providing real-life examples and reasoning to support the responsive, authoritative method would be one method to try and overcome the barrier.
    I believe knowing about what goes on in the inside kids can greatly impact my choices for school violations. I also believe that I can support any choice I make with the notion of KNOWING my students, therefore, placing the importance of building strong relationships with each student continuously throughout the school year. If I am in tune with my students, I am usually able to tell what the root of the behavior or problem is stemming from. I will admit that it took me until about the 3rd 9-weeks to be able to say that confidently, but I now feel that the relationships within my classroom are strong and knowing what my students may be experiencing on the inside greatly impacts their outside behaviors. As an example, I have a student who has been having increasing behavior problems since December. I have come to find out she and her family is now homeless, bounding between family friends’ houses and scarcely feeling any sense of consistency. Her behaviors in the classroom on the surface level come across as defiant, however, the root of most of her behaviors come from not having adequate basic needs met, such as being fed, being well rested, and having strong connections at home. Taking time with strategies such as the “2 for 10” PBIS strategy to continuously build the relationship with this student, I was able to glean this information about her homelife. I am able to provide her with the basic needs that the school can provide (such as breakfast, snacks, and lunch), as well as giving her my love, patience, and responsive attitude to her outburst and “defiance.” Teaching other teachers about the inside kid is crucial. Relating it their own personal life could be a powerful way to connect teacher’s with their students. We as teachers come into school each day with a wealth of things on our “plate” to do, however, we are able to put on a happy face when our students walk through the door in the morning. We understand that we are more irritable with our students when there is added stress in our lives, and it may come across unintentionally towards our students. Our “inside teacher” is affecting our outside behaviors, and we would hope for empathy and patience from our coworkers and administration through these times of extra stress. We as educators can extend that same hospitality to our students and learn to look a little deeper at the inside kid to truly understand our students and the basis of what is causing their struggles and triumphs.

    1. Hi Kirsten,
      I am glad you brought up the iceberg metaphor! That is such a good visual for us to use when trying to understand the whole child. This weekend has made me spend a lot of time thinking about how we are more than just what people see on the surface. I really liked your story about your student, and how you have worked to build a relationship with her this year. Understanding where she is with her basic needs was very helpful for both of you to work towards a positive outcome.
      I also liked your comment about relating our own personal life as a way to connect teachers with their students. Even though we put on that happy face every day, there is always something hiding just below the surface. How we deal with our stress has a direct impact on how we perform our jobs; and we are adults. How much harder it must be for our students, who haven’t built up a tolerance for the stress they are encountering!

    2. Kirsten,
      You touched on so many great points! I love the iceberg metaphor! Digging past the surface and really uncovering those underlying issues helps to get a better understanding of a student and their behaviors. I also loved your concept of the “inside teacher” and being the “guide on the side.” I believe this helps to build those social emotional skills as well. I’m really glad that your school is utilizing PBIS as some schools have not bought into it yet. Such small gestures to support and acknowledge students for their progress.

  6. When reading about authoritative parenting style I thought about myself as a parent and as an educator. This is the way in which I interact with people in general due to the fragile state that many people are in contrary to the hard exterior that they may portray. My overall impression of an authoritative parent is one that is stern but caring and able to have age appropriate conversations about feelings, behaviors, and consequences. I think that this approach is beneficial and practical in the school setting because educators play a major role in our children’s development. I’ve always said that teachers do more than teach academics; they teach social skills, communications skills, and problem solving. As the article stated, “kids raised by authoritative parents are more likely to become independent, self-reliant, socially accepted, academically successful, and well-behaved” and that “kids become more empathic, helpful, conscientious, and kind to others.” These are all characteristics that lead to success as individuals. Nurturing this type of inductive discipline encourages students to take a step back and think, reflect, and understand what they (may) have done, how it affects them, the teacher/parent, and the classroom as a whole. When I was younger I was more of the…I WAS the authoritarian parent; even still I lean more towards this style than permissive. Because of this I saw first had what it is for a child to just obey and not truly understanding the reason as to why she should or shouldn’t do something. But this was the culture of my household and how I was raised as well. It was just disrespectful to ask why and would be disciplined just for asking. The typical response was, “because I said so.” (Thank God for growth). This is yet another reason why educators need to adapt this style of discipline. If they are not receiving it at home, then at least they can receive this sense of positive reinforcement that empowers them to develop executive functioning skills. The only challenges that I can see at this point and time is that for some, it will take a change in mindset and training/PD if the most effective way to utilize it, and it could possibly take away from instructional time to really take on this style of discipline.
    Reading the Inside Kid, I realized that there were many themes from past weeks assigned readings and videos that applied to Dennis and his situation. Dennis was a survivor of trauma with an ACE score of 10 for sure. He definitely did not have or experience the five growth needs that are essential in order to be a healthy, happy, well-balanced person. He had difficulty maintaining healthy relationships, he was institutionalized as a child going in and out of juvenile detention homes, etc. On a positive note, he was able to tap into his Native American culture and faith as well as activities (Tae Kwon Do) that helps to heal and develop executive functioning.
    This allowed Dennis to grow and contribute to the community in many ways. This is a prime example of the power of building up strengths through relationships and connections. I am still a firm believer in consequences for actions. I validate feelings but do not condone behaviors. I think that digging deeper and really getting to know the “inside kid” helps me in a way that I try to understand the “why” behind the behavior. It also helps to be more aware of and recognizing student tendencies and being intentional in the way that I interact with students. For example, I had a student last year that if she came to school with her hair in a mess, it was a rough morning for my student and more than likely I was going wreak havoc. But this also gave me the opportunity to spend a little extra time with her on that day to attempt to deflect negative behaviors. Understanding her home life and how it affects her in the school setting made it clear that there were other resources that she could benefit from. In building a positive and trusting relationship with her, she felt safe and more open to participate. The key to understanding the inside kid is realizing that they will not change their behaviors overnight and that no matter how small or how slow…progress is still progress and should be taken into consideration when reprimanding students.

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