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Dealing with SEN behaviour in a mainstream class

Discussion in 'Special educational needs' started by meldoo, Jan 23, 2017.

  1. meldoo

    meldoo New commenter

    Hi, I'm new to this forum but would welcome anyone's thoughts and advice on a problem I have. I am a teaching assistant in a year 1 class. I will shortly be covering for the teacher on a regular basis. In the past when I have covered, I have used an effective behaviour plan which worked well. This year in our class we have four adorable quirky children who ,although are not classed as SEN, are certainly wired a little differently from your 'average ' child. Presently they break many class rules and are subject to the same consequences as the rest of the class. This is usually for things like calling out, not sitting still or not getting on with their work. This is an everyday occurrence for these children as they are rarely doing the right thing. This worries me as their self esteem is getting noticeably lower and lower. My question is, how should I deal with this behaviour. My gut feeling is that they cannot help it ,but by letting this behaviour go by ,Im not sure how to be consistent in my behaviour plan. In the past I have told my students that I always stick to the rules ,and consequences will always be carried out but should this apply to the special children? How would this effect the rest of the class? Any help or advice would be appreciated, thankyou
  2. minnie me

    minnie me Star commenter

    Try posting on TA / SEN / Primary . My initial reaction is that you are deployed by the teacher and the setting hopefully with a BFL policy. I think that if the BFL policy is not meeting for success for all the children then alternative strategies need to be considered.So perhaps your school is not used to 'quirky ' and has little experience of accommodating ? - this could be the issue. I acknowledge that failure / poor self esteem can become quickly entrenched and early ' intervention ' is key. Schools should be about using strategies to level the playing field and not marginalise . Important to distinguish between non compliant and ' special ' . The school should have transparent criteria for how children with SEND are identified and supported
  3. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Random thoughts.

    • Depends on the severity. The sanctions.
    • Also the frequency.
    • What is their personal reward system?
    • Those behaviours are very normal for a child in YR1.
    • Are they inattentive or disruptive?
    • Are they daydreaming or messing with others?
    • Maybe they can't help it but it's our job to HELP THEM TO HELP IT.
    • Give them 5 free shout-outs. Make cards. If they don't use them up they get a reward.
    • Use an egg-timer. If they stay sitting for those minutes they are allowed a stand-up and a jump-about.
    • Give them success.
    • But this is an issue the teacher should be addressing first and foremost.
    phlogiston likes this.
  4. meldoo

    meldoo New commenter

    Hi Minnie Me, Thanks very much for your advice. I think you're right, our BFL policy is too general and therefore not inclusive to ALL children. I'll attempt further discussion with my stressed out teacher and raise these points. Thanks
  5. meldoo

    meldoo New commenter

  6. meldoo

    meldoo New commenter

    Thanks very much for taking the time to respond. Here is a bit more detail to see if you have any further thoughts.

    The behaviour is not severe at all, just constant. The sanctions are as our class behaviour plan - One warning, move to a different area, lose some playtime then go to the headteacher.

    They do not have a personal reward system. Only children with one to one support have this.

    The majority of children in our class don't break the class rules and if they do, one warning is sufficient to put them back on track.

    The four individuals are very different and between them, they do most of the things you mention. They are inattentive and disruptive. One in particular is in a constant daydream but not so much messing with other children.

    All the strategies you suggest are all great ideas and infact are sometimes implemented but again only for our one to one children. I'm sure they would also help these four individuals. Do you have any suggestions as to how you would explain to the other children why these four wouldn't be following the same behaviour plan as them as it isn't at all obvious to the rest of the class that there is anything different about them at all and so it would seem unfair that they have special treatment.

    Thanks again for taking time to repond, I really appreciate it.
  7. minnie me

    minnie me Star commenter

    Ok - I was Secondary so not in a position to help with specifics like GDW but I do think that what you are describing in your setting is an attempt at the ' one size fits all ' ( not ) policy. To be honest it would make sense for your SENCO or T and L lead ( if they exist ) to raise awareness and address. The key thing here is the whole school approach needs to be inclusive and pro active - very difficult to manage in isolation as TA or teacher. I think I would ask the question - what is the teacher / school going to do when (?) these children fail to make 'progress ' and how long will the BFL policy be implemented before someone decides that it is not effective ? Good Luck
  8. Jo3Grace

    Jo3Grace New commenter

    What a wonderful question.

    Over time low self esteem will be far more disabling than any quirks in their current wiring.

    My advice would be prevention is always better than condemnation after the horse has bolted.

    All behaviour is communication, you said they can't help it. That means they have a need and that need results in them behaving in that way. It's your job to do the detective work - what is that underlying need? Is it for reassurance, for validation, is it to feel safe, to be sure they are noticed and not forgotten, to have some power or control, for things to be fair? All of these in a string like that feel similar but each is subtly different and can be prevented in different ways.

    So for a child who needs to be noticed to feel safe (this is not an ego centric thing, just a very vulnerable feeling and a child who knows that they are better protected if an adult is noticing them), you might be able to work out a system of you letting them know you see them, but one that communicates this through particular looks or hand signals, so that their shouting doesn't distract the class. "Give me a nod when you've heard me, I'll give you a nod when I see you've heard me" that kind of thing, or the good old thumbs up.

    Or for a child who needs to feel control (again this is not a power crazed child this is a child used to relying on themselves who feels vulnerable when control is in someone else's hands) can you sate that need from the start of the session with a succession of small jobs for them to be involved in. Things like "Can you hand the books out" but in your instruction put in positive words for how to do it, e.g. "Can you hand these books out super stealthy way for me" rather than "Can you hand these books out, no talking as you do it". If their brains do have quirky wiring it's quite common for language processing to be behind first appearances, things like the ordering of words can get missed so the negative sentences, can end up sounding like instructions e.g. they might hear: "Can you hand these books out talking no please", and although if they stopped and thought they could work it out no one stops and thinks over every sentence.

    They're very fortunate to be being supported by someone likes you who recognises the initial presentation of behaviour is not the whole story.

    Best wishes
    Jo Grace

    The Sensory Projects
    JulesDaulby and dzil like this.
  9. meldoo

    meldoo New commenter

    Hi Jo,

    Thankyou so much for such helpful advice. You clearly have a lot of experience with children such as these.

    I will begin my 'detective work' in an attempt to understand these children better. As it happens, I asked the teacher if I could take them away from the classroom during our maths session today as they're simply not thriving in a whole class environment at the moment. We had such a lovely morning and I had goosebumps when one particular boy who rarely smiles had a gorgeous beaming face. I wish I had more experience with children such as these but I'm determined to do my best for them. I understand it's the teacher's repondsibility really but unfortunately her stress levels are such that I know she cannot do any more. It is looking as though we will have more and more of these 'quirky' children to brighten up our school so if you know of any books or websites that may also help ,that would be great .

    Thankyou again
  10. meldoo

    meldoo New commenter

    Thankyou! Yes I've raised my concerns with my teacher and our SENCO and so far I've had no response which is why I've taken to asking for advice elsewhere. Our ESA 's have been great and are helping out where they can.
    Thanks again for the advice , I appreciate it.
  11. circuskevin

    circuskevin Established commenter

    Hi @meldoo

    If you enjoy your work with special needs you may like to do some voluntary work - if you have time - as an extra way to gain experience. Playschemes, Saturday clubs, whatever ... You can retain the knowledge gained for a lifetime. Out of 'class time', you can try out all sorts of ideas to see what works.

  12. circuskevin

    circuskevin Established commenter

    At a playscheme last summer I was blowing balloons up in preparation for a balloon modelling session. An autistic lad had happily engaged in the mornings circus workshop session. He picked one of the balloons up and started to investigate and play with it.

    " Why is he allowed to do that?" asked the other children.

    "Because he's the cleverest", I replied.

    The children seemed quite happy to accept this without further protest.

    Maybe a variation on this would enable the other children to accept a different behaviour plan for your 4 'quirky' ones. 'Any' explanation might suffice.

  13. circuskevin

    circuskevin Established commenter

    I do applaud you on your very intelligent approach on dealing with these special needs youngsters.

    JulesDaulby likes this.
  14. meldoo

    meldoo New commenter

    Hi Kevin,
    Thankyou so much , that truly means a lot.

    As you can probably tell, stress levels are high with the staff in our school at the moment and I sometimes feel as if I'm on my own trying to figure out how to help these children. Comments and advice like yours and others have given me the confidence to carry on and gain as much experience as possible in hope that it will help them have a happy and prosperous time at our school and beyond.

    Many Thanks

  15. JulesDaulby

    JulesDaulby Occasional commenter

    Some excellent advice here for you.

    I'd only add a few things:

    See each child individually to work out what their triggers are - identify the primary need and see what strategies are available. Do check their learning profile (not just behaviour) - if they are struggling to access curriculum, the behaviour maybe signalling this.

    What strengths and interests do they have? Perhaps an IEP or one page profile might be worth looking at?

    The students with 1:1 - is there a possibility of using them to? Classroom management sounds like it could be improved.

    Regarding the other children; if behaviour is managed subtlely, making reasonable adjustments shouldn't be too obvious and kids often 'get it'. As Jo said prevention better than reaction so asking for help or giving signals to reassure may improve behaviour.

    Good luck and great thread for any teacher struggling with behaviour and classroom management.

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