Where Are We Now?

I've just had another meeting with Ashton and his mum, Jenn. These meetings have been taking place every couple of weeks throughout the year.

Jenn and I both feel that Ashton has made a little progress this year. Academically, he has been learning, although his writing especially is a huge concern.  Ashton's learning is incidental, as he is frequently on the periphery of any learning situations that are occurring.


Socially, Ashton's friendships have steadied and developed somewhat.  His classmates have given him a more than fair chance, despite some of his extraordinary behaviour and histrionics.


Ashton has been attending weekly counselling sessions through YOSS.  Jenn reports that while it has helped her and James, his stepfather, it has done very little for Ashton.  She is at the end of her tether, wondering where they go to seek the help they need.


I have a huge concern about Ashton's future.  I worry that he has so little perseverance, that he loves to scare people, that he is so completely egocentric, that he shows little remorse or empathy, that he helps himself to other people's property, that he believes he should have without first earning and so much more.


I have bent over backwards to help Ashton, to show him kindness, to understand his condition, to make sure he isn't stressed or uncomfortable.  I am undecided whether the strategies I have used have helped.


When I was a teacher trainee, Jim Blair, my lecturer gave us all a piece of advice that I have always used.  Once you have put a line in the sand, don't let your students put even a toenail over it.  I've bent that rule for Ashton this year.  I think Ashton has spent the year throwing his whole body over that line and I've just said, 'There, there..."


The rest of the class has not suffered, however.  They are an independent group of students, apart from a small group who would have benefitted from more of my time had Ashton not demanded it.


What has been Done / Instigated / Changed / Adapted?

I have had meetings every two weeks with Jenn (mum) and Ashton.  They are grateful for my effort. Ashton generally attends these meetings.

Ashton has his very own workspace with a fully functional iMac.

Ashton can listen to music while he is working.

The classroom is kept relatively quiet.

For much of Terms Two and Three he had his own programme each day, taped to his desk.  There is no consequence for not completing, only rewards (snidges) if he does complete.  This programme is minimal.

This has been changed to the SDL programme the other students have, but with a minimal achievement level.

I have encouraged some of the boys to be good role models.  Josh, Wills and Thomas have been incredibly generous with Ashton - giving him multiple chances.

I have tried to get alongside Ashton to try to understand him.

I have tried to 'catch him being good'.

I have attempted to avoid confrontation

I have ensured he gets his pill at playtime.

I have picked my battles...

Strategies to Empower, Not Control, Kids Labeled ADD/ADHD

This is the best online article I have been able to find about ADHD.  


I have copied it to a Google doc, highlighting and commenting anything I think is relevant to Ashton.

What Will I try?

To me, Ashton's behaviour is a constantly changing phenomenon.  There are times when I can not reach him at all, while at other times he allows me to get quite close, emotionally.

Here is what I'm going to try:


1. Give him a completely different learning programme from the rest of the class


  • He will have four tasks to complete that day - three academic and one construction / design task
  • The tasks will be simple
  • He will work in order of the tasks
  • Many will be online
  • He will have a set table with a reliable computer
  • The tasks will be taped to his table each morning
  • They will be checked off
  • He can earn S100 for each day he completes the tasks
  • There will be no consequence for not achieving the tasks.
Here is a sample week's programme:


2.  I also expect Ashton to attend workshops and full class activities such as Personal Investigations, Shared Book, PE...

3.  I will try, try, try to understand where Ashton is coming from.  I need to learn to read his signs and pre-empt blow-ups if I can.

4.  I will make sure Ashton has his tablet at morning tea.  I have seen what he is like when he hasn't taken it...

5.  I will work with the other students to support Ashton.  They will need to encourage where possible and ignore when necessary.  Ashton needs to feel we are backing him.


Staff Meeting

At the staff meeting, we were shown a couple of movies which dealt with children's behaviour.  Here are some aspects which were notable for me:
  • 'Naughty' children do not want to be naughty
  • Teachers / adults need to get alongside and try to truly 'understand' these children
  • Are teachers secretly delighted when students are sent to the office and punished?
And some questions about differentiation
  • Who they work with  - or don't?
  • Where they work within the class - including how far away from the teacher (this is directly related to our license levels)?
  • How much they're required to complete?
  • What level of tasks they are set?
  • Do they have or need a completely alternative programme?
  • What are they interested in or passionate about and how can we incorporate that into their programme?
  • How do we react when they display undesirable behaviours?
  • What are the common factors that lead to undesirable behaviours?
  • What are we prepared to ignore or let go of so that the child is not forced into a course of action?
Links

What am I trying to achieve?


Here is where I try to prioritise what is most important - for everyone.  Now I'll start with me!

If he hasn't taken his tablet, he becomes quite feral; hissing, screeching, attacking others
Of utmost importance.  The physical and emotional safety of all students in my care must be the highest priority.

He is disobedient when he doesn't get to do what he wants to do
This is another paramount safety requirement.  I will need to establish a relationship of trust and respect.

He affects the learning of the rest of the class:
This is a high priority because we all need to be able to get through the day!  I need to find a way to ensure the learning and well-being of the entire class is first and foremost in importance.

He uses a lot of my focus, energy and time - both in and out of class time
I need to be willing to accept this.  I will give him the time and energy required, but the well-being of the whole class is my top priority.

He leaves a trail of his belongings anywhere.  He often has no equipment.
Not worth focusing on as there are more important things.  Maybe if sufficient progress is shown - and/or I'll need to pick my time (and battles)

He is opposed to writing ANYTHING.
This is terribly important, but not the most important.  I'll encourage, try a few strategies, but I won't force him into a negative space by threatening consequences.

He doesn't see himself as an effective learner.  He has very low confidence.
I've listed these together.   They are important.  It is something to work on whenever opportunities present themselves. 

He interrupts frequently and loudly
This will be very high because it affects the learning of the other students.

He struggles to deal with not getting his own way. He is quick to anger.
These go together.  

He tells untruths to make himself look better / impressive
I've learnt very quickly to believe less than half of what he says.

He frequently focuses on irrelevant matters
I think this is just Ashton's way of looking at the world just now. Ride it out.  Steer him away when he's able.

He becomes stressed when we change routine.
Give him some warning.  Provide alternatives (with the help of Andrea)

He has no inherent desire to be 'one of the group'. He is often isolated because others don't want to have anything to do with him
Insist the other children disregard his behaviour when it is irritating, but help and encourage him whenever possible.

From his point of view

He has no friends and he would really like some
When he is calm, talk / coach him about relating to others in a considerate manner

From his parents' point of view

He is extraordinarily difficult to manage at home
They are worried about his lack of friends
He is potentially dangerous to himself and others
He needs to be ready for intermediate
Ready for Intermediate in what way?  I don't see his condition improving to the point of being as able to learn and relate as effectively as other students.  See other priorities.

From the viewpoint of his peers:
He can be frightening (and irrational)
Their safety is paramount.  They need to understand they just have to get away and keep their noses out of Ashton's business when he is being irrational.  They should also get a teacher asap if the situation is looking like it is escalating.

He is distracting and annoying and he interrupts their learning
I need to help Ashton stay as calm as possible.
The other kids need to show that his irrational behaviour is of no interest to them ie ignore him.


How will this impact positively on teaching and on student learning outcomes?

If together, we can maintain a calm atmosphere and a strong, supportive and encouraging team culture, we should be able to minimise the level of disruption to the students' learning.

Focus Justification

From his point of view
  • He has no friends and he would really like some
From his parents' point of view
  • He is extraordinarily difficult to manage at home
  • They are worried about his lack of friends
  • He is potentially dangerous to himself and others
  • He needs to be ready for intermediate
  • Happy, calm and growing
From the viewpoint of his peers
  • He can be frightening (and irrational)
  • He is distracting and annoying
  • He interrupts their learning
From my viewpoint
  • He is often isolated because others don't want to have anything to do with him
  • He uses a lot of my focus, energy and time - both in and out of class time
  • He leaves a trail of his belongings anywhere.  He often has no equipment.
  • He is opposed to writing ANYTHING.
  • He doesn't see himself as an effective learner
  • He interrupts frequently and loudly
  • He struggles to deal with not getting his own way
  • He tells untruths to make himself look better / impressive
  • He is quick to anger
  • He has very low confidence
  • He frequently focuses on irrelevant matters
  • He seems to have no desire to be 'one of the group'
  • He is disobedient when he doesn't do what he wants to do
  • If he hasn't taken his tablet, he becomes quite feral; hissing, screeching, attacking others
  • He affects the learning of the rest of the class
This quite a list.  I really want to help Ashton, but priorities will need to be set.