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Legal and Ethical Implications of Classroom Management

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Fabulous First Grade Case Study: Thinking Outside The Box to Manage Disruptions
Mary Gajnos
First Grade Teacher Keller Elementary
Green Bay, Wisconsin
December 10, 2013 This is a case study of one of my first graders who began the year with what one would call quite a reputation for disrupting the class. In this study I will try to show how I had to reflect, change, and implement other strategies/methods in order for him to coexist in our classroom. As I write this about student M, I have just come from having a very tough day with another student that we are currently looking into trying the same strategies. I say this because I am a person who reflects daily on the happenings of the day and put myself through the “could of, should of, would of” scenario. As never having done a case study, I hope to show that by just being true, fair, and realistic to a vision; one can try their best to better themselves as well as the classroom they are in charge of. As I started researching this I found Maslow’s theory that states, “Unproductive behavior is not viewed as an indication of a bad child but rather as a reaction to the frustration of one’s basic needs not being met.” Student M came to first grade after a very traumatic kindergarten experience. I was able to observe this and at times thought “What am I going to do next year?” M comes from a background of mom and dad both being incarcerated last year and being “raised” by Spanish speaking grandma. I saw him throw fits, tantrums, yell, scream, and run from his room last year. Many people tried to help M develop coping skills. He often shut down and was sent to the office because he was a disruption to the rest of the class. Being a small school, I knew that I would be the one and only first grade this year and wondered how can I make a difference? I started the year with the theory that I was giving M a clean slate and things would be different. He didn’t seem to get the same memo….he was disrespectful, defiant, disruptive, and the cause of a lot of headaches. Most days I heard “I hate you.” “I’m not doing that.” “You’re stupid.” Even being a seasoned teacher of 20+ years I began to wonder if perhaps my career was over. Should I toss it in the bag and look into a second career? My school had implemented the PBIS method the year prior and this year we were starting with CHAMPS the classroom approach to classroom management. Okay, I will listen and try to learn new strategies to deal with classroom misbehaviors. Some of the meetings we had I found myself thinking how can I be positive when the behaviors I’m dealing with are totally disrupting my instruction? I tried all the tools I had in my tool box. I redirected, retaught, and guided expected behaviors. Still, most days I felt like I knew nothing and I was fighting a losing battle. I bucked the CHAMPS teacher because she always said “universal kids” and I shut down and thought….I don’t have universal kids, I have tough bugs! Then things changed. M started to accept directions I gave and started giving me hugs and listening to my words. He started sitting in group, listening, and telling others how to follow my directions. Okay, I went through the “war” with M and he was beginning to respond. But M still had a huge issue during transition times. He would comply with my directions, but get to Music, Art, or PE and totally fall apart. Those specials teachers were frustrated, angry, and wondering what we could do. I also have to preface that my principal is new to the district this year. He is coming from a rural area where that had a totally different socio-economic structure than we had. So, when all these transition issues happened, he really wasn’t prepared to deal with things. Then I got frustrated….I had made a breakthrough with M and I knew he could do it, but he was sinking and it hurt. The usual strategy of having M go to the office if he wasn’t complying did NOT work. He refused, ran, hid, and made all the adults look like we had no experience in dealing with kids. So, instead of “bucking” the CHAMPS teacher, I thought, okay, lets try. All the specials teachers, the Champs instructor, and myself sat down and discussed what we were going to do to make M’s day successful in all areas. I have to be honest and say that the first meeting I felt judged and that people were “looking” at my classroom and wondering what the hell is going on in there! Then I did a lot of soul searching and thought…you know what, you are not perfect, so perhaps there is something out there I can learn from. My CHAMPS instructor believed that collecting data, processing that, and making a plan would work. So, the specials teachers and I looked at M’s behavior and decided that his main behavior was non-compliance. We met and discussed ways we could help him transition to these areas with no issues. Our CHAMPS trainer showed us that we first needed to collect data to see how many times we were redirecting M negatively versus positively. Okay, big light bulbs went off! My data showed that I was way negative in dealing with M. For every action he did that was negative and I redirected there may not have been ANY positive. Well, you know negative breed’s negative and positive breeds positive. I had to change my attitude and deal with M in a totally different brain wave. He was so not used having anyone be positive with him that he totally had a breakthrough. He now is a student that if you came to observe you would never notice as being a “behavior” issue. He is compliant, courteous, and loveable. I am so happy to see the change in his behavior. The only thing I would like to end with is that each child is a totally different entity. Student D that I spoke about in the beginning of this paper would not react to this strategy. He does not have the ability at this time to self-regulate that student M did. I appreciate all that has happened with M, but hope that D will also be able to self-regulate if we are able to find the right source for his non-compliance. Right now however, his behavior is unsafe for his classmates so we will continue to work towards the progress we made with M. I called this Fabulous First Grade Case Study because I call my class Fabulous First Graders and I believe in being positive. I know I spoke about a tough and perhaps negative day, but I can tell you that by the time I constructed my thoughts and wrote this paper I feel more empowered and positive. I can only say that each and every day is a new and blank slate and I will continue to try and promote this sense of positivity. Kids are our future and we do need to guide them to become constructive adults even if it if hard! Thank you for allowing me to reflect and discuss what is going on in my room. My goal is to continue to strive for a more positive classroom.
(Sprick, 2012)
(Weinstein, 2008)
(shellenberger, 1996)
(wang, 1993)

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