3 Ways to Support Students That Elope

Monday, October 14, 2019

Ah, elopement. No, I don't mean secretly getting married - that actually sounds intriguing! I mean students who run away - from the area, from the setting, from the classroom, from the building. It's one of those behaviors we generally cannot ignore, and is incredibly disruptive to student learning.

For the sake of this blog post, we are calling it eloping or elopement - a more respectful way to discuss this behavior. After all that's what it is - a behavior. I also encourage you to refrain from calling a student "a runner" - something I hear so many education teams using (Unless you're referring to a kiddo on the cross country team!!).  As someone who formerly described students in this way - I get it. But I know better now, so I have replaced that term with saying "a student who tends to elope when _________."

Did you catch what I did there? "A student who tends to elope when _________." That when? That's the secret sauce! And, the perfect intro into 3 ways you can support students that elope.

10 Simple Ways to Support Students with Anxiety

Monday, August 19, 2019

1.) Stay Structured
Anxiety can stem from just about anything, but it's so common for a child to feel anxiety about their daily schedule. Always having a daily schedule posted (and maybe an individual version for any students that need it) with visuals and written words can be a huge source of comfort.

2.) Designated calm spaces
Calm corners aren't just for kids who have short fuses. Having a universal space for any student in your classroom to retreat to when they're feeling big emotions can make your classroom feel so much safer.

Top 10 Sensory Tools for Elementary Students

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Whether you have a designated calm corner in your classroom or not (though I think you should!), having sensory tools in your classroom is a must! Sensory tools aren't just for your heavy hitters, students with diagnosed disabilities, or the wiggly ones - they're for everybody! They can help students when they're dysregulated, give students tools to use to keep their attention, offer a helpful break from academics, and more. I think we can all agree that every student needs access to those opportunities! Here are my top 10 sensory tools to have available to your students (in no particular order!)

5 Organization Favorites for Special Ed Classrooms

Sunday, June 23, 2019

If you're a special educator, you know organization is ESSENTIAL before you lose your data sheets and can't find a signed document. Here's my 5 favorite organizational tools that can help keep any teacher organized.

1.) Paper organizer

I have used these for their original purpose, to organize paper by color (great way to keep Astrobrights or construction paper organized!), and I have used it as classroom mailboxes! Add a little tab off the side of each section with a student name, and you have an easy solution for passing out papers and organizing student folders. Easily fits on a table top!

5 Words to Avoid When Helping Students De-Escalate

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

De-escalation is such a HARD process - and the language we use can become the reasons why a student calms, or a student escalates further. De-escalation language should always be non-judgmental and the adult should try to listen more than they talk. So if you are talking, here's 5 words to avoid to help the process.

1.) "But..."

Whenever we use the word "but" in a sentence, we're going against what our conversation partner is saying. In de-escalation, it's all about affirming and listening, not trying to argue your point. Instead of interjecting what you want to say, try taking a deep breath and turning on your listening ears.

How to Effectively Teach Multiple Grade Levels In One Special Education Classroom

Monday, May 6, 2019

Teaching special education has its own set of super unique challenges, between behaviors, social skills training, communication needs, and planning for inclusion, we often have a huge disparity in academic skill sets AND multiple grade levels in one classroom. Is there really any way to target ALL of the needs and requirements sitting in front of you? Well the answer is, yes.

One of my most frequently asked questions is, "How do you teach all of the standards to all of the grade levels in a multiage special education classroom?!" It feels impossible, but with the right set up, YOU CAN DO IT!

How to Use Calm Books to Assist in De-Escalation

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

If you're a regular around here, you know how much I love a good calm corner in a classroom. Having a designated safe space to sort out big emotions is so crucial in school! But in reality, it's hard to actually encourage the de-escalation process - there's often little adults can do. Outside of setting up meaningful environmental supports and co-regulating with students, adults should be remember that one crucial piece they control is to give space and time for students to de-escalate. Barking directives or forcing verbal processing while a student is in crisis ("in their downstairs brain") will only likely agitate the child, and you won't get the results you're looking for. So - how CAN we encourage de-escalation?

Research also tells us that in order to de-escalate, we need to focus on the present moment and sloooowww down. While escalated, we can't complete "think sheets" or start sharing what's making us so overwhelmed with emotion. But what we can do, are simple calming tasks. Meeting kids in their downstairs brain (I keep saying that - read this quick and informative piece on this language and why it's not only important to know, but good words to use to explain our brains to kids!) is the best way to help turn brains from chaotic to calm.
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