Possible

Possible

Friday, December 24, 2010

What are Coping Skills? Part One: Overview

Practically every day, school-age children experience a variety of troubling events and stress both at school and at home. These troublesome events may involve peers, significant adults such as teachers, and/or family members. It is widely documented in the psycho-educational literature that children’s difficulty in handling these troubling events and stressors in their lives result in emotional, behavioral, and/or physical health problems. Children feel stress when they believe that they lack the emotional and/or physical resources, or coping skills they need to handle the event successfully. The less able a child feels to cope with a troubling event, the more stress the child feels. In other words, the event is not what triggers stress in the child; stress and troubling feelings are triggered by the child’s perception, accurate or not, that she cannot cope with the event.  
Forman (1993) define coping skills as sets of information and learned behaviors that the child can use purposefully to bring about a positive outcome in a potentially stressful situation. The learned behaviors may be physiological, social, cognitive, and/or affective. Coping skills interventions aim at teaching children a set of strategies that will increase their ability to function effectively during potentially stressful or problematic situations. Folkman and Lazarus (in Forman, 1993) identify two major types of coping efforts, problem-focused coping and emotion-focused coping. Problem-focused coping acts on the stressor, for example, problem solving or any attempt to manipulate and change the relationship between the child and the stressful event (attempting to solve the problem). In an emotion-focused effort, we try to regulate the emotional states associated with the problem or stressor, that is, we do not manipulate the problem, but manipulate how the child feels and responds to the problem. By helping the child think and feel differently about the problem, we influence the child’s emotional response to the problem. Cognitive restructuring is probably the best-known emotion-focused coping effort.
We can teach coping skills alone or in combination; most coping skills interventions are quick and easy to learn, requiring very little training. Teaching coping skills to children helps in preventing or reducing children’s emotional and/or behavioral problems in the classroom. Some children are more resilient than others are, that is, some children have the individual characteristics and emotional strength that will help them handle stress in their lives successfully. Other children require planned interventions by a caring adult, for example, a counselor or a psycho-educational teacher to develop and/or strengthen inadequate coping skills.

Overview of Coping Skills

Among the most popular coping skills approaches for use with school age children are stress inoculation training, social skills training, social problem solving training, self-management of behavior, and cognitive restructuring.  Next, I explain briefly each coping skill approach. In future blog postings, I will elaborate on each coping skill introduced here.
Stress Inoculation Training
In the traditional stimulus-response school of thought,  a stimulus in the environment causes a biological or psychological response in the individual, and this response is what we call stress. A most recent interpretation of stress conceptualizes it in terms of transactions or interactions between the individual and the environment (Forman, 1993), simply put; an event becomes a stressful event to the extent that the child perceives it as stressful.  For example, child A perceives the math test as too hard and stressful, child B perceives the same math test as hard but challenging, and child C perceives the same test as easy and not stressful at all. Therefore, each child played an active role in perceiving and creating stress in what was really a neutral event (taking the math test), and the amount of stress each child experienced relates directly to how each child perceives his or her skills in handling successfully the neutral event or math test. The more the child anticipated a negative outcome, because he or she did not have the skills or ability to overcome the negative outcome, the stronger the stress the child experienced.
Coping skills improve children’s ability to deal with those events they perceive as stressful by performing specific actions to increase the chance of a positive outcome, and by reinforcing the belief that they are capable of responding constructively to the demands of the event. Specific relaxation strategies that children learn are deep muscle relaxation (tension-release cycles of major muscle groups), deep breathing (e.g. the child takes a deep breath, holds it, and then exhales slowly), and imagery procedures like the robot-rag doll technique (the child first acts like a robot, stiff and tense, and then acts like a rag doll, floppy and relaxed) or real-world images where the child imagines a calming and relaxing scene.
Social Skills Training
Events that involve social interactions are a frequent source of frustration and stress for school-age children. Gresham and Elliot (1987) define social skills as behaviors that help a child attain important social outcomes such as peer group acceptance, positive judgments by significant others, academic achievement, a positive self-judgment, and psychological adjustment.  Combs and Slaby’s definition (in Forman, 1993) focuses on interactions and interpersonal relationships, defining social skills as the ability to interact with others in a given social context and in specific ways that are valued or acceptable socially, and at the same time are beneficial either for the child, for both the child and peer, or beneficial primarily to others. Social skills training aims at remediating the social skills deficits exhibited by some children, in particular, emotionally/behaviorally disordered students, or EBD. Assertiveness training, a training that focuses in teaching the child how to act in his or her own best interests without hostility and without violating the best interest of others, is an example of a social skill that we teach to EBD students.
Social Problem Solving Training
The social problem solving coping approach focuses on teaching children a systematic way of dealing with social problems (interpersonal problems) through a sequence of steps, that is, using a problem solving plan. Problem solving enhances children’s understanding that they have different options to handle a social problem, and in understanding the potential consequences of each option, or the potential consequences of the child’s actions. Proponents of this coping approach claim that mental health relates to the individual’s ability to solve social problems, and state that children with well-developed social problem solving skills exhibit less behavior problems (e.g. anger-prone or acting out behaviors) in the classroom.
Self-Management of Behavior
Self-management of behavior, or behavioral self-control, refers to the child’s ability to direct and to change her own behavior. This coping approach uses primarily behavior modification techniques; however, current interventions combine this coping approach with the next one, cognitive restructuring. During self-management of behavior, we train the child in evaluating her own behavior, setting goals, manipulating her environment in a way that facilitates achieving the goal, and in rewarding herself when she achieves the goal. In schools, behavioral self-control training can help hyperactive children, habitually disruptive students, aggressive children, and children with anger problems.
Cognitive Restructuring
Cognitive restructuring is a comprehensive attempt to help a troubled student analyze the self-defeating thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes that are causing and/or intensifying the child’s feelings and behaviors. At the most basic level, we train the child in recognizing and self-monitoring both positive (pleasant) and negative (unpleasant) emotions and thoughts as well as in identifying situations that are likely to trigger each type of emotion or thought.  Next, the child learns to discriminate between thoughts and beliefs that are accurate or rational and thoughts and beliefs that are inaccurate or irrational. At this level, the child challenges and debates the irrational thinking, substituting it with rational thinking, that is, thoughts and judgments that are more accurate. Rational-emotive therapy or RET is both a theory and a method to help students with more serious emotional and behavioral problems. This sophisticated intervention works best when is used in combination with other coping strategies such as a relaxation strategy, assertiveness training, and/or a problem solving plan.
References
Forman, S. G. (1993). Coping skills interventions for children and adolescents. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Gresham, F. M., & Elliot, S. N. (1987). The relationship between adaptive behavior and social skills. Journal of Special Education, 21, 167-182.

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A Call to All Teachers:

Proudly announcing our new group for educators worldwide, “We Teach the World.” Our aim is to connect teachers and related school personnel all over the world, so that we can share much-needed ideas, strategies, and lesson plans as well as all kinds of resources in classroom management and in student discipline. Coordinating our effort worldwide, we can tell each other where to find important resources and information. If you administer a teaching blog or have created educational resources to facilitate our job, you are welcome to share them here. As long as they contribute to education, we want to know of your business. Teachers with questions, post them here; mentors and seasoned teachers, your valuable experience and unique perspective matter to us, so make your voices heard. Because isolated, we teachers are imaginative, resourceful and resilient, but connected, connected we are imaginative, resourceful, resilient AND powerful. To join us, click on, “We Teach the World.”

Monday, December 6, 2010

Communicating High Expectations to Students with Behavior Problems

 An expectation is a belief that some future event will happen. The cognitive literature agrees that our expectations greatly influence both the way we feel and the way we behave. Consciously or not, teachers constantly cue students as to what our behavior expectations are. We exhibit hundreds of nonverbal cues, some as subtle as tilting up the head, raising the eyebrows, head nods, the breathing rate, eye contact (or absence of eye contact), and/or the dilation of nostrils. Other cues are more obvious, including a certain tone of voice and our verbal messages, and children notice those cues and messages. Teachers’ expectations often play a major role in bringing about the behavior we expect from individual students. We transmit our higher or lower expectations to each individual student, and soon children begin to reflect the image that we have created, and may be inadvertently reinforcing in them. On most occasions, we are not even aware that we are expecting and communicating disruptive behaviors, because the cues we are sending are often non-verbal and unintentional. Once we set our behavior expectation for a habitually disruptive child, the student will act more and more in ways that match the expectation. In addition, consistent with our low expectation for the child, we give up easily, feel discouraged easily, and act resigned, not staying with the child during setbacks and failure situations. This never-ending cycle of student’s misbehavior and teacher’s discouragement gets stronger by the day, moreover, like a self-fulfilling prophecy, the less we expect from the child, the less we get.
 Tollefson (2000) states that teachers develop outcome expectations, that is, the belief that particular students will learn the material taught (or will behave in a particular way), and efficacy expectations, or our belief in our personal ability and professional skills to help each student in our classroom to achieve academically and/or to behave. According to Tollefson, in combination, our outcome and efficacy expectations influence the way we interact with students as well as our willingness to spend effort to help individual children. Simply put, the higher our expectations, the higher the quality of our interactions with the student, for example, we smile more, make more eye contact, are more supportive, give more assistance to the child, encourage the child in generating solutions to problems,  and pay closer attention to the child’s responses. The opposite is true for a child for whom we have lower expectations. Even when the amount of time we spend with both kinds of students is similar, the quality of time spent and the quality of interactions are not the same. To promote behavioral change in a habitually disruptive student, the key is not in what we say to the child, but in how we say it and how we interact with the child.
Teachers need to believe that we have the skills and ability to influence positive behavioral change in our most challenging students (teachers’ efficacy expectations). A teacher with a high level of personal efficacy, or self-efficacy, believes that he or she has the ability to motivate and engage students both in learning and in behaving. The teacher perceives the student’s habitually disruptive behaviors as a challenge, not a threat, and explains the behavior to the child in a way that encourages the student to evaluate his success or failure in relationship to the amount of effort the child spends and the strategies the child knows and applies to self-regulate behavior. In addition, the way we explain to children their successes or failures influence how we interact with children, for example, the teacher provides feedback that is more positive and constructive, and keeps criticism to a minimum. Constructive feedback does not just review the past, or what the child did wrong, but help outline future performance, or what the student needs to do to master a skill or behavior.  In a friendly and accepting way, behavioral setbacks are explained as errors or mistakes necessary for growth and learning, and the teacher encourages the student to fix his acting-out behaviors the way he fixes an academic error.  A teacher with high self-efficacy expectations and the right psycho-educational skills is able to influence and develop strong self-efficacy expectations in students.
Teachers with high self-efficacy expectations aim high, developing goals of high academic achievement and positive behavior for all students. High self-efficacy teachers keep children’s potential in mind, and are tenacious in not giving up, even when we realize that we are going to face roadblocks right in the next corner. Children feel motivated when they believe that putting in more effort and using the right coping strategies will result in improved behavior. In addition, just perceiving that the teacher has high expectations for him improves the teacher-student interaction and enhances the child’s motivation.
 To modify behavior, the habitually disruptive child needs both resources and skills to do the job. It is not enough to tell simply to the child that you believe she can behave better. We need to provide resources like information and teacher’s time coupled with psycho-educational skills and strategies, for example, a problem-solving plan, coping skills for anger management, and/or self-monitoring strategies. With higher goals, encouragement, extra support, adequate time, and the right skills and strategies any child, including a child with behavior deficits, will eventually learn to replace disruptive behaviors with more positive ones.
Reference:
Tollefson, N. (2000). Classroom applications of cognitive theories of motivation. Educational Psychology Review, Vol. 12 No. 1, pp.63-83.

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A Call to All Teachers:


Proudly announcing our new group for educators worldwide, “We Teach the World.” Our aim is to connect teachers and related school personnel all over the world, so that we can share much-needed ideas, strategies, and lesson plans as well as all kinds of resources in classroom management and in student discipline. Coordinating our effort worldwide, we can tell each other where to find important resources and information. If you administer a teaching blog or have created educational resources to facilitate our job, you are welcome to share them here. As long as they contribute to education, we want to know of your business. Teachers with questions, post them here; mentors and seasoned teachers, your valuable experience and unique perspective matter to us, so make your voices heard. Because isolated, we teachers are imaginative, resourceful and resilient, but connected, connected we are imaginative, resourceful, resilient AND powerful. To join us, click on, “We Teach the World.”

Friday, November 19, 2010

How to Curb Disruptive Behaviors in a Psycho-Educational Classroom: Guidelines for Setting Goals

In our last blog, Should Teachers Give Rewards to Students for Good Behavior? A Psycho-Educational Perspective, we discussed the importance of linking rewards with behavioral goals to maximize the efficiency of our behavior management plan. Now, I want to elaborate on the technique of goal setting to regulate students’ motivation, but first, a brief description of the concept of goals:
The concept of goals is at the heart of most theories of motivation. Goals are internal (within the individual), as opposed to rewards that are externally regulated, and represent something that we want to accomplish; simply put, the goal is the result or outcome that we are trying to reach. We call this mental representation or goal our aim, purpose, or objective. The concept of goal is a motivational concept that influences behavior in several ways:
  1. Goals narrow our attention to goal-relevant activities and away from what we perceive is irrelevant to the goal.
  2.  Goals guide our behavior and give us direction.
  3. Goals lead to effort and strengthen our persistence; that is, we are more inclined to work harder and to work through setbacks to reach our goal. In other words, goals direct and motivate our effort.
  4. A well-developed goal identifies strategies to deal with problems.
We may talk or dream about things we want in our lives, but we do not have a plan to reach them. The difference between just a dream and a goal lies in our plan. Dreams are visions and belong in our imagination; goals are plans that we outline, so that we have a map that we see and follow.  Goal setting is more than just scribbling vague ideas on a piece of paper. An effective behavioral goal is like a road map, focused and detailed. In the classroom setting, a behavioral goal specifies what the habitually disruptive student is going to do, clearly indicating what acceptable performance is. In goal setting, we must write a goal that is clear (not vague), so that the child knows what to do, challenging, so that the child feels energized and motivated, and achievable, so that we give the student a genuine chance to succeed. We can set either a directional goal where we motivate the child to reach a particular conclusion (to think or believe in a particular way), or an accuracy goal, where we motivate the student to be more accurate or to develop proficiency. With habitually disruptive students, the psycho-educational teacher will be more effective if he or she intervenes first at the directional level, influencing the student’s belief system to reinforce a particular conclusion, followed by interventions at the accuracy level, so that, with the student, we continue to search for behavioral improvement. Some guidelines for setting goals follow:
  1. Set a main goal or long-term goal, but do not expect the habitually disruptive child to achieve the goal all at once, that will be too overwhelming to the child.  Sub-divide the main goal into smaller and more easily reached goals or mini-goals (also known as short-term goals or proximal goals); succeeding at each mini-goal motivates the child to achieve the main goal. Celebrate and reward each time the child reaches a mini-goal.
  2. Combine easier goals with at least one hard goal. The easier goals build the habit of following through and you can reward the student quickly. The harder goal forces the student to grow.
  3. In order for the child to perseverate in reaching a behavioral goal (goal commitment), she must believe that the goal is important to her. Spend time connecting emotionally with the child (i.e. establishing rapport and creating an alliance with the child) and help the child see the meaning of the goal from her own perspective, not from the teacher’s perspective. Help the child understand and articulate why she wants the goal. The stronger the child’s motivation, the greater she will make an effort and will perseverate.
  4. Self-set goals are more effective in influencing behavior than goals selected by someone else. Work in cooperation and collaboration with the child, and help the child identify self-set goals such as becoming more competent, feelings of pride and accomplishment, satisfying her curiosity, or increasing her feelings of self-control and autonomy.
  5. When you help the child list self-set goals, you are strengthening self-esteem. You are sending the child the message that she is worthy of these goals, that she is capable of developing the personality traits that will allow her to reach the goal, and that you trust her and have confidence in her ability to follow through and succeed.
  6. In order for the child to perseverate and commit to a goal, she must believe that, with time and an effective plan, she will reach the goal. Help the student understand that her habitually disruptive behaviors are the result of a lack of plan, or if the child tried before, tell her that the behavioral strategies attempted were inadequate. In other words, the strategy failed, the child did not fail. By definition, goal setting is the process of developing and testing strategies. Be flexible, adjusting and modifying the plan or strategies when needed.
  7. If you need to change strategies, explain it to the child as a victory, not a defeat, because both the child and you have the insight to realize that something needs to change. In other words, the child is growing up and maturing.
  8. A clearly stated goal that follows a specific plan has a greater chance to succeed than a general goal. To elicit specific behaviors, it is important that the child clearly understands what he is going to do, that is, the goal canalizes the student’s behavior.  To develop a specific plan, you can follow an outline that answers, who (people involved), what (what do you want to accomplish), where (setting), when (time line or period), how (steps) and why (purpose and benefits). Using this format, you create a set of instructions for the student to carry out.
  9. State behavioral goals positively, that is, what the child is going to start doing, instead of in a negative way, or what the child is going to stop doing. Keep the child focused forward (what she wants), not in the past or what she is leaving behind.
  10. Determine how you are going to measure the child’s progress towards each mini-goal and main goal. How both the student and you will know when the child reaches the goal? You can use qualitative measures (strategies or procedures that the student knows and applies) or quantitative measures (competency, or the child’s ability to follow the procedure well, e.g. 80% proficiency or three out of five times).
  11. Give periodic feedback, that is, give the child information about how well he is doing. The student needs to know where his performance is in relation to each mini-goal and the main goal, so that you both determine if the child needs to try harder, if you need to adjust the plan (e.g. developing an easier goal), or if you need to change the strategy or method.
  12. For students with chronic and/or recurrent behavior problems, be sensitive and reward partial success and effort. Alternatively, you can develop performance improvement goals based on the child’s past performance (e.g. 10% more, then 20% more). Reinforce progress in meeting the goal.
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Proudly announcing our new group for educators worldwide, “We Teach the World.” Our aim is to connect teachers and related school personnel all over the world, so that we can share much-needed ideas, strategies, and lesson plans as well as all kinds of resources in classroom management and in student discipline. Coordinating our effort worldwide, we can tell each other where to find important resources and information. If you administer a teaching blog or have created educational resources to facilitate our job, you are welcome to share them here. As long as they contribute to education, we want to know of your business. Teachers with questions, post them here; mentors and seasoned teachers, your valuable experience and unique perspective matter to us, so make your voices heard. Because isolated, we teachers are imaginative, resourceful and resilient, but connected, connected we are imaginative, resourceful, resilient AND powerful. To join us, click on, “We Teach the World.”

Friday, November 5, 2010

Should Teachers Give Rewards for Good Behavior? A Psycho-Educational Perspective

Rewarding students for good behavior is a popular classroom discipline procedure. Teachers of habitually disruptive students like using rewards because, in a well-structured reward system, they have the potential of winning students’ compliance fast. Advocates of using rewards to discipline students with habitually disruptive behaviors claim that rewards promote compliance and stop misbehavior. Opponents of rewards state that rewarding students, an externally oriented procedure (the teacher regularly administers the rewards, not the student) are a way of controlling and manipulating children’s behavior that does little to change permanently the disruptive behavior. In other words, the short-term effect of stopping misbehavior does not translate into a long-term effect of helping children grow and develop better-adjusted ways of behaving. Alfie Kohn, the author of Punished by Rewards states that rewards can be seen as punishment in the sense that rewards both manipulate behavior and are a form of doing things to students rather than with students.  Both advocates and opponents of rewards present strong supportive arguments and I would like to bring a psycho-educational perspective to this controversy.
Assuming that the teacher has a well-structured and consistent reward system, rewarding students with habitually, and in some cases severe, disruptive behaviors can be a fast and effective way of winning compliance. My fourteen years of experience teaching emotionally disturbed/behaviorally disordered students strongly supports the conclusion that rewards are fast and effective. Nevertheless, I also understand that, if used alone and with no clear long-term goals (both for the student and for the teacher) in place, rewards are short-lived. External rewards may temporarily inhibit disruptive behaviors but they do not teach appropriate behavior and will not help children outgrow the disruptive behavior. Teachers need to be aware that rewards appeal exclusively to students’ extrinsic motivation (“I do _____ so that I can get _____”) having little or no effect in strengthening children’s intrinsic motivation (i.e. self-pride, self-confidence, self-efficacy, and a sense of accomplishment among others). Consequently, even when the teacher uses rewards consistently, a discipline system that only takes into consideration giving rewards while ignoring children’s perceptions, attitudes, and feelings may have a strong short-term effect in winning compliance, but no long-term effect in helping habitually disruptive students learn new and more productive ways of behaving. Simply put, psycho-educational teachers see rewards as one way of supporting and strengthening the more comprehensive psycho-educational program, but they never use rewards as the only and/or most important component in the behavioral management program. Primarily, teaching self-management of behavior is the long-term psycho-educational goal; rewarding behavior extrinsically while the student develops internal self-control and is able to self-manage behavior is just a supportive tool in our more comprehensive psycho-educational toolbox.
This brings us to the second point that I would like to make. At all stages of the reward program, students should be part of the decision-making process. Children have a say in what is motivating to them, and they have a choice in the kinds of rewards included. Even when we are externally manipulating the behavior, we give choices to children and make children part of the decision-making process, encouraging and inviting the child in formulating solutions. Learning to make better-adjusted behavioral choices is another long-term goal that we teach children since the beginning. Children learn to make good behavioral choices by having the opportunity to choose, not by following our directions or receiving rewards. For this reason, we explain to the child that once he or she is better equipped to self-manage behavior, we will fade the extrinsic reward system, moving the student gradually from an externally supported system into an almost exclusively internally motivated support system. The child’s self-management skills and self-awareness tell us when he is ready to make the transition. In addition, just knowing that they now require less external manipulation than at the earlier stages of intervention is extremely rewarding and motivating to students. Teachers can measure success when we find ourselves using considerable fewer rewards at the final stages of our intervention program than the amount of extrinsically motivated rewards required at the initial stages of our intervention.
If you are thinking of implementing a reward system to manage a habitually disruptive student, or already have one, the following guidelines will be helpful in increasing the system’s efficiency. With minimal variations, you can adjust these guidelines so that you can use them with a disruptive class.
  • Get to know the child as an individual.  Find out what the child is interested about and what motivates him or her; also, find out what the child dislikes. Directly ask the child what is reinforcing to him or her. You and the child should discuss the reinforcement.
  •  After discussing what is rewarding to the child, set goals with him, and help the child translate the goal into an action plan that clearly lists the sub-steps that he will need to follow to reach the goal. Link the reward system with the action plan, aiming at reinforcing the action plan.
  • To set goals and develop an action plan, engage the student in a discussion about “the ways he wants to be (goal),” and how he can make that happen (action plan).
  •   Do not assume that the student knows how to listen, how to cooperate with other students, or how to solve social problems. Teachers need to teach those behaviors explicitly. Explain to the student, model, and then review the behavior that you expect from the child. Give the student examples of alternative behaviors that the child can use to replace the habitually disruptive behaviors. The extra time you spend earlier in the year teaching socially appropriate behaviors to habitually disruptive students will save you time and frustration in the future.
  • Explicitly state what the student needs to do to earn the reward. For example, just saying, “Be nice to each other” or “Pay attention to the lesson” is not enough. You need to state what the child is going to do in behavioral terms, for example, “15 minutes seated and doing your class work will earn you a token.” The link between the child’s behavior and the reinforcement must be apparent to the child.
  • Vary the reinforcement, so that the child does not get used to it, and does not feel bored by the same reward. With the student, you can develop a reinforcement menu (10-15 rewards), and to make it more appealing, include a mystery reward. When the child meets her behavior expectation, she selects one reward from the reinforcement menu.
  • For bigger rewards, you can use a token system, so that each day, the child earns tokens, points, or checks that she exchanges at the end of the week or month.
  • Emphasize social and privilege reinforcement (e.g. breakfast with the teacher or extra computer time) over material reinforcement (toy and prizes). Reinforcement that involves spending time with adults and doing tasks together are generally more rewarding to children than toys. Remember, when you spend time with the child, resist the temptation to discipline the child during that time. In other words, keep reinforcement time and discipline time clearly separated.
  • Always keep in mind that, particularly for students with recurrent behavior problems, for behavior to be good does not need to be perfect. Reward effort and improvement; that is, notice and appreciate that the child is trying hard and is doing a little better each time.
  • Teach the student self-rewards and self-reinforcement; for example, the child compliments herself for raising her hand, for waiting her turn, for using a learning strategy, or for thinking of a better approach to solve a situation. Gradually transition the student from an externally manipulated reward system to self-reward and self-reinforcement.
Bibliography
Brandt, R. (1995). Punished by rewards? A conversation with Alfie Kohn. Educational Leadership, 53(1), 13-16.
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Watch Your Language! Ways of Talking and Interacting with Students that Crack the Behavior Code. To preview this book on Amazon, click here.


A Call to All Teachers:


Proudly announcing our new group for educators worldwide, “We Teach the World.” Our aim is to connect teachers and related school personnel all over the world, so that we can share much-needed ideas, strategies, and lesson plans as well as all kinds of resources in classroom management and in student discipline. Coordinating our effort worldwide, we can tell each other where to find important resources and information. If you administer a teaching blog or have created educational resources to facilitate our job, you are welcome to share them here. As long as they contribute to education, we want to know of your business. Teachers with questions, post them here; mentors and seasoned teachers, your valuable experience and unique perspective matter to us, so make your voices heard. Because isolated, we teachers are imaginative, resourceful and resilient, but connected, connected we are imaginative, resourceful, resilient AND powerful. To join us, click on, “We Teach the World.”

Friday, October 22, 2010

What is Psycho-Education?

In the broader sense, psycho-education refers to the education given to people who are living with emotional disturbances. The rationale behind a psycho-educational approach is that, with a clear understanding of the mental condition, and self-knowledge of own strengths, community resources, and coping skills, the individual is better equipped to deal with the problem and to contribute to his or her own emotional well-being. The core psycho-educational principle is education has a role in emotional and behavioral change. With an improved understanding of the causes and effects of the problem, psycho-education broadens the person’s perception and interpretation of the problem, and this refined view positively influences the individual’s emotions and behavior. Consequently, improved awareness of causes and effects leads to improved self-efficacy (the person believing that he is able to manage the situation), and improved self-efficacy leads to better self-control. In other words, the person feels less helpless about the situation and more in control of himself or herself. Educating people about their own mental issues can be an effective way for them to get the facts and learn effective coping strategies so that they take the steps necessary in helping themselves. Psycho-education is not a treatment; in clinical settings, psycho-education is the first step of the overall treatment plan.
Psycho-education involves anything that teaches people about mental health issues. We can define mental health not as the absence of problems, but as knowing what we can realistically expect of others and ourselves, as well as knowing what to do when problems arise (coping skills). In clinical settings, psycho-education targets both the patient and the patient’s family. Educational training of key family members aims at helping families understand what is happening “inside the person” with the mental illness, and to train family members in how to take care of the mental patient.
Using what psychological theory (the psycho part) and pedagogical methods (the education part) offer, psycho-education is not new to schools, being around since the 1970’s. Current psycho-educational models have emerged from a blending in developmental, cognitive, and learning psychological theories. In the classroom setting, the emphasis is on behavior management theories and methods that teachers can use to manage and modify troubled behaviors. Classroom psycho-educational approaches are oriented toward improving social behavior, teaching the troubled and behaviorally disordered student the socio-emotional coping skills that the child seems to be lacking. Among others, the discussion and development of emotional literacy topics like resiliency, decision-making, social problem solving, self-management of emotions (e.g. anger management), and self-management of behavior or self-control are ideally suited for the classroom experience. Psycho-educational teachers recognize that troubled students benefit from a degree of self-knowledge and self-awareness to be able to relate well with peers, and have the goal of helping troubled students learn about their own feelings and behaviors. Both in clinical settings and in school settings, psycho-education is educational training and skills building.
For an overview on psycho-education, read my article, Classroom Management Strategies for Dealing with Habitually Disruptive Students: Applications of Psycho-Educational Principles and Models. Here is the link:
http://www.scribd.com/doc/36459574/Classroom-Management-Strategies-for-Dealing-with-Habitually-Disruptive-Students-Applications-of-Psycho-Educational-Principles-and-Methods

Related articles...
Creating Rapport with a Disruptive and Acting-Out Student: Psycho-Educational Interventions for Students with Special Needs
http://www.scribd.com/doc/36928691/Creating-Rapport-with-a-Disruptive-and-Acting-Out-Student-Psycho-Educational-Interventions-for-Students-with-Special-Needs

When Children Fail in School: What Teachers and Parents Need to Know about Learned Helplessness
http://www.scribd.com/doc/36841377/When-Children-Fail-in-School-What-Teachers-and-Parents-Need-to-Know-about-Learned-Helplessness

Of Interest to Teachers...

Essentials of Emotional Communication for Reaching the Unreachabe Student: Where Do I Start? What Do I Say? How Do I Do It? To preview this book on Amazon, click here.


A Call to All Teachers:


Proudly announcing our new group for educators worldwide, “We Teach the World.” Our aim is to connect teachers and related school personnel all over the world, so that we can share much-needed ideas, strategies, and lesson plans as well as all kinds of resources in classroom management and in student discipline. Coordinating our effort worldwide, we can tell each other where to find important resources and information. If you administer a teaching blog or have created educational resources to facilitate our job, you are welcome to share them here. As long as they contribute to education, we want to know of your business. Teachers with questions, post them here; mentors and seasoned teachers, your valuable experience and unique perspective matter to us, so make your voices heard. Because isolated, we teachers are imaginative, resourceful and resilient, but connected, connected we are imaginative, resourceful, resilient AND powerful. To join us, click on, “We Teach the World.”

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Welcome to my Blog

This is my first posting. It is not going to be the last, and I hope you join me.

Psycho-education is an orientation to the education of students with emotional and behavioral problems within the context of developmental and psychological theories. Blending cognitive (thoughts), affective (feelings), and behavioral components, the psycho-educational or therapeutic model gives teachers skilled management strategies to help children change dysfunctional behaviors and develop effective coping skills.

With over 12 million children nationwide classified as emotionally disturbed, and millions others exhibiting habitually disruptive behaviors in the classroom, the time is now for teachers and school related personnel to develop the child guidance skills necessary to outreach and teach this challenging population. Focusing on the unique socio-emotional needs of the habitually disruptive and acting-out child, a teacher trained in psycho-education is able to develop an adult-child relationship that is conducive to new insights and is growth promoting. The therapeutic teacher coaches the child in finding alternative ways of meeting his or her socio-emotional needs in a more effective and socially appropriate fashion. Students take an active role in their emotional and behavioral improvement.

Each posting in The Psycho-Educational Teacher covers one specific classroom management and socio-emotional development topic. My first full posting is scheduled for Friday, October 22, 2010 and the topic is, What is Psychoeducation? Join us, so you don't miss any topic.


A Call to All Teachers:


Proudly announcing our new group for educators worldwide, “We Teach the World.” Our aim is to connect teachers and related school personnel all over the world, so that we can share much-needed ideas, strategies, and lesson plans as well as all kinds of resources in classroom management and in student discipline. Coordinating our effort worldwide, we can tell each other where to find important resources and information. If you administer a teaching blog or have created educational resources to facilitate our job, you are welcome to share them here. As long as they contribute to education, we want to know of your business. Teachers with questions, post them here; mentors and seasoned teachers, your valuable experience and unique perspective matter to us, so make your voices heard. Because isolated, we teachers are imaginative, resourceful and resilient, but connected, connected we are imaginative, resourceful, resilient AND powerful. To join us, click on, “We Teach the World.”