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Institutionalised in isolation

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by i_am_miranda, Mar 23, 2011.

  1. Hi Tom,
    I'm an ITT psychology student and as part of my enrichment programme at the end of my course I have volunteered in my block B placement schools behaviour management department. They spend most of their time staffing the isolation room, where students who have either failed to attend detentions or behaved very poorly in lessons spend their day in silence looking over text books.
    The main problem is that the same people spend far too much time there, which perpetuates the problem as they become further behind with their studies and even more disengaged. As part of my time there I hope to speak to some of the regular offenders about why they think they continually end up there and try to help develop more of a preventative model.
    However, I have no experience in this field and I don't want to get in over my head! Are there any resources, strategies or websites you can recommend that offer some kind of pro-forma or session model when trying to gain an insight into pupils who have become institutionalised in isolation.
    I would really like to help as the current system is not sustainable or effective for regular offenders!
    Thanks in advance
  2. p1j39

    p1j39 New commenter

    But I bet the rest of their class can actually get on with some learning without being distracted by those who are "disengaged!
  3. Cervinia

    Cervinia Occasional commenter

    Excuses, excuses. I wouldn't let them out until they choose to engage themselves in good behaviour.
  4. RaymondSoltysek

    RaymondSoltysek New commenter

    Despite the casual cynicism of the two replies you've had, this is a serious problem. Sure, the rest of the kids can do their work - but we get paid to teach all children, and it's incumbent on us to try to get these children back into class as soon and as productively as possible. Anything response other than sadness at the waste and determination to make it better is just unprofessional, IMO.
    Actually, this is a case where restorative practices might well work. I'm in no way an RP specialist, so can only offer you general advice. The difficulty here is that these pupils don;t have any real sense of the damage their behaviour is doing to the class, their classmates and themselves - and yes, they can indeed become "institutionalised". So - building emotional intelligence is the key.
    RP isn't done as a short term solution - it takes ages to do right. A serious discussion occurs about the past first. What did you do? What were you thinking? How did you feel? Who else was affected? What were the consequences of your actions?
    Then look at the present? Where are you now? What do you think about your actions now? How do you really feel about that? What have been the consequences of that action in the past for your present circumstances?
    Finally the future. What can you do to repair the damage you have done to the class? To the teacher? To the system? Very importantly, to YOU? What strategies can we all agree on - rewards, sanctions, reminders, coaching, etc. - that will ensure this doesn't happen again, or at least doesn't happen with such regularity.
    It's no quick fix: it's a demanding and time consuming process that should involve, with their agreement, as many of the teachers as possible, and possibly some classmates. But it builds real awareness that just might get them back in the classroom where they actually belong. Teaching all children is what we're trained to do: I can't agree with any reaction that is content to let these kids rot where they are.
  5. I run a nuture room in a primary school which has been set up for just this sort of thing. I'm not sure you would be able to acheive anything during a period in the isolation room that has been set aside as a sanction however perhaps you could suggest to the team that repeat offenders get some preventative time where the sort of work you are looking for can be done.
    The work can be specific to the child and, depending on the age of the child, if combined with games can help create a positive relationship between the adult and child meaning that when incidents happen in future they are de-escalated more qulickly preventing the more serous sanctions and so halting the downward spiral.
    I know I'm speaking for a primary school but a lot of the children I deal with really crave positive grown up time and if it's given liberally as a reward it can make great differences.
    I work with several children who used to be storming out of class, violent and abusive who are timetabled to see me once a week 1:1. They know that if they have had an incident free week we play games of their choice and if not we discuss the incidents in a way described above (this will be on top of any sanctions received for the incident).
    Good Luck. I'm finding that this sort of work is becoming more and more the domain of the school as the children arrive at school with extrememely delayed social skills.
  6. Cervinia

    Cervinia Occasional commenter

    My proffessionalism won't be based on 'sadness' I may or may not feel for the often self selecting 'disengaged' children. You're right: "we get paid to TEACH all children". The RP suggestions you make are more to do with parenting than teaching... Determined - yes, determined to teach. Not determined to babysit.
  7. OP,
    You are attempting to answer the million dollar question in education. The children you describe have been going round in the wash for a long time so don't assume that any form of mentoring you try will be something somebody hasn't tried with them before.
    The problem here is, and we ought not to wring our hands looking for reasons, these children have chosen not to function in a normal classroom and (being British education) there is a high likelyhood they have been appeased in the past which will have cemented their behavioural patterns.
    Whatever you choose to do I would advise against doing what is described below - rewarding badly behaved children and lowering expectations.
    I have not seen one incident where one to one mentoring of this type has improved a childs behaviour.
  8. moscowbore

    moscowbore Star commenter

    Dear Raymond,
    While I applaud your attempt to find a solution I just wonder who you are addressing? You cant seriously expect a teacher to do the RP thing, can you? Many times I have said on these fora that we are teachers, not psychoanalysts. If a student repeatedly chooses to behave in a way which results in isolation, i.e. consistent application of a school procedure, the school is doing its job. If the student does not understand that his behaviour is disrupting the education of others then the help he/she needs is outwith the remit of a teacher. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I am sure that your solution would work. i have just never been in a school where your solution is a practical suggestion. I must also confess that I find your solution to be so ridiculously impractical that I find it slightly insulting.
  9. RaymondSoltysek

    RaymondSoltysek New commenter

    I can expect a suitably trained teacher with the time and responsibility to do it, yes. Any teacher - no.
    RP is not psychoanalysis.
    The OP talks about "institutionalisation" in isolation. I do not think any school that institutionalizes its children to expect to be isolated all he time is doing tis job.
    If a child does not understand the cosine rule, do we isolate them? Schools are places of socialization as well as education - helping children to understand the impact their behaviour has on others and modify it is part of our job.
    You are "sure my solution would work" but think it is "ridiculously impractical"? Surely things which work are practical? I find your criticism of my post so illogical that I find it slightly insulting too.
    You obviously don't know much about RP - which is merely an observation, not a criticism. See https://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=6076825
  10. moscowbore

    moscowbore Star commenter

    Dear Raymond,
    Perhaps I should have said that your solution would work IF a teacher had the time. I have never met a teacher who has the time to implement your solution. I have never been in a school which could allow its teachers the time to psychoanalyse students in the way you suggest. And it is psychoanalysis. Further, I dont believe that any student I have ever taught needs to be told that their behaviour is disrupting the education of others. If a student truly does not understand that disruptive behaviour, resulting in consistent punishment, is disrupting the education of others then they do need specialist help which is absolutely not in a teachers job description. If a student cannot control their behaviour to suit the environment, i.e. a classroom, then they should not be allowed to rob well behaved students of their right to an education. In my opinion, the role of the school is to support the well-behaved students. The students who choose, and it is a choice, to disrupt take the consequences of their actions. We dont have reform schools any more so we have to tolerate the disruptors. Its all about being creative about the ways in which we minimise their effect on students who choose to behave in a civilised fashion. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------While I am on my soap box, let me state my position as clearly as I can. I can just imagine some of the disruptors I have taught having a conversation of the type you propose. They would find it ridiculous and they would laugh their bottoms off. Schools are places of socialisation. I agree with you on that. One of the most important things we can teach our students is the need for civilised behaviour. The need to follow social norms, like not disrupting other peoples' education, like following the instructions of a teacher or any other figure of authority. We would do students a dis-service if we condoned their disruption by not punishing it.
  11. RaymondSoltysek

    RaymondSoltysek New commenter

    If I was suggesting that every teacher do it all the time, I would agree. But I have consistently said that trained teachers should do this, and it takes time. It could be part of an SEN programme with a child like this, perhaps. However, you choose to keep ignoring what I say.

    No it isn't. Psychoanalysis is carried out by psychoanalysts who largely allow the subject to talk during confidential sessions; RP is a mediative and social process that involves many people. You persistently saying it's psychoanalysis doesn't make it so, and merely shows that you are ignorant of both psychoanalysis and RP.
    Ah - you are one of those people who want to pick and choose who you teach - and then be paid for it. I prefer to think of myself as that kind of teacher who wants to do the best for all my pupils - and if that means working a bit harder to include those who are disaffected and who lack the social skills to cope in my class, then so be it. However, despite you having an opinion about what your role as a teacher is, I think if you check your contract of employment, you'll find that it tells a different story.
    The why do you only propose punishment and exclusion? Not very creative...
    and a very shaky one it is too...
    And where have I EVER said that pupils should not be given limits and should be sanctioned when they break those limits? Did you read the link,which makes precisely that point? What the OP talks about is a pupil who obviously doesn't respond to those limits and sanctions. I suggest a way forward; you simply suggest more and more punishment and then exclusion, because you lack the imagination and intelligence to see any other way.

  12. RaymondSoltysek

    RaymondSoltysek New commenter

    I apologise for suggesting that you lack intelligence: perhaps there are other reasons why you don't seem to have read what I said.
  13. garyconyers

    garyconyers New commenter

    "But I bet the rest of their class can actually get on with some learning without being distracted by those who are "disengaged!"
    Its interesting that the above was dismissed as being 'casually cynical'. I'm more inclined to agree with the comment and see it as an honest, realistic description of how quiet, well-behaved but ignored pupils in a class feel when disruptive children prevent them learning lesson after lesson after lesson.... Its significant that when I've apologised to children for the disruption of a disruptive child (my room, my lesson, behaviour is my responsibility), I've been told its not my fault they do that in every class! (By the children). I know that disaffected children are often (but not always) the most vulnerable but IME the needs of the quiet, well-behaved child are not considered in schools.
    The article linked to is interesting. From the article:
    "Restorative practices come from restorative justice, a huge success within the criminal justice system,"
    My understanding of RJ in the criminal justice system is that it means putting the victim and perpetrator of a crime together in a controlled way so the perpetrator can hear first hand from the victim the consequences of their actions. This can benefit the victim and perpetrator in many cases and has been successful at times. Eg:
    I can see how this can be applied successfully in schools, in cases of bullying, where the bully is largely unaware of how the victim feels. I've seen RJ work well like this.
    How this could be applied to a child who has repeatedly disrupted the learning in a classroom I'm not sure. I think its unreasonable to ask a child to apologise to the whole class (who are the victims). The child will be aware of the effects of their actions IMO, which is why they act the way they do. Unless I'm not understanding RJ in schools.
  14. RaymondSoltysek

    RaymondSoltysek New commenter

    I would have been surprised too if such a remark was dismissed as "casually cynical". It wasn't.
    What actually was dismissed as "casually cynical" was the notion that it is perfectly acceptable to let pupils become "institutionalised" in "isolation", regardless of the damage it does to them or their education, and that nothing needs to be done to try to get them back into a social learning environment just as long as the majority are okay: in other words, as long as difficult children are out of sight, it's okay for them to be out of mind too.
  15. Tom_Bennett

    Tom_Bennett Occasional commenter

    Hi: sorry, I didn't see that you'd addressed me, hence my late reply.
    I applaud your desire to improve the situation with these pupils in the environment they're in. It is, as you say, an unsatisfactory situation in many ways.
    That said, these students have, to some extent, placed themselves in this situation, due to their own actions. While as teachers we must always attempt to do our best for pupils, simultaneously we mustn't blame ourselves if students fail to make the best choices for themselves. Every time you go to the doctor, they ask you if you smoke. If you say yes, they usually say something like, 'Er..have you thought about giving up? Here's a pamphlet.' And then most of the patients leave the surgery and light a fag. The point being, you can't blame the doctor for that. Same with the teacher/ student. They need to learn that their choices (see? I'm using the language of choice here, just like the training manual) have led them to a situation where they end up in a worse situation that before.
    It is a fact, possibly not universally acknowledged, but damn near universal in my experience, that once a child reaches a cooler/ time out room/ internal exclusion unit, the return rate of work provided approaches a point between zero and five percent..unless they are given one-to-one support from a member of staff. And it takes time, stamina, and usually a very special skill set involving patience approaching martyrdom. Remember; these kids didn't get sent to the exclusion area because they were working too hard. They find it difficult enough working in a classroom.
    But it's not hopeless: some of them work best in isolation, because then distractions are minimalised, and you can capitalise on that but making sure that decent work is available for them to do; that you check up on them regularly as they do it; that you praise them when it's good, and correct them when it's not; that you have it marked and assessed and returned to them somehow, which will probably involve a lot of liaising with teachers.
    Making these kinds of units work isn't rocket science, and doesn't require some fancy new structures or behaviour management theory: the area needs to be strict and disciplined; the students need to be aware that they are being monitored, and that good work is expected of them. They need to see that good work is provided, and that it will be checked. They need to see that if they muck about in there, then they'll suffer further consequences. Those are the kind of skills that they need if they want to be successful in any walk of life: self control, discipline and manners. Isolation units are as good a place as any to try to re-instil them, and at least then they can't further damage the education of their peers, which is usually, after all, why they're there in the first place.
    Good luck
  16. Hi

    I work in an 'isolation room' and we have up to three pupils in the room; we do not have booths like many schools.

    Students are sent work from their teacher and in fact I find the students in the majority by far complete twice the work they would in a lesson and I am often calling for extension work if it is not supplied.

    Often this'time out' gives the pupil time to catch up on work and reflect on their behaviour; they will remain in isolation IF they do not achieve a high score for behaviour & work levels. (we score 0 to 5)

    We do not need the isolation room everyday and have 1800 students; we find that we do not have regular or institutionalised students; We work in-line with our inclusion unit and if appropriate councillors will come and talk with the student we also give each student a behaviour booklet to complete which are relevant to the reason they are in isolation. The booklets help the student reflect on their actions).

    The most I have had a student in isolation was two and a half days; day 1 they had low scores due to little work and not complying with instructions so was given a second day plus and extra two lessons on day three. She was told if after the second day she had good scores then she would be in for two lessons on day 3 - day three she had complied etc. so she went to lesson 3 where isolation was still clear in her mind that any disruption etc.
    she would be returned to isolation..........touch wood she has not returned!

    The students find it 'boring' and I find this alone is a good motivation for students to achieve high scores to enable them to return to lessons.

    In isolation the students follow ALL the school rules but they cannot use phones, ipods etc. any-time during the day plus their breaks and lunch are taken separate times to the rest of the school and remain with a member of staff at all times.
  17. To the OP 'trying to gain an insight into pupils who have become institutionalised in isolation.' May I suggest that the pupils you describe are perhaps the ones resisting being 'institutionalised'? It could be argued that the 'good' students (p1j39's 'rest of their class' who 'can actually get on with some learning without being distracted') are the ones who have been effectively 'institutionalised'. There's also a case to put forward that many teachers themselves have been 'institutionalised' into a system where the default setting is control.

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