Week 7: Refocus time

At our school we have an Intervention office where kids can go when they need to “refocus.”  They have developed a “refocus form” for students to complete, which helps them look at their behavior and think about what they need to do to resituate themselves as learners.  I have not taken advantage of this as I considered it simply the discipline office.  As a high school teacher I never sent a student for referrals  as I preferred to deal with behavior issues on my own.  However, after today I have a different view.  First of all, there are four adults working in there – two probation officers, a vice principal and another discipline/behavior management person.  That’s a lot of people, and there is space dedicated to students being there.  But here is what has truly changed my view:

In one of my classes is a boy named Jesus, who at first seemed lazy or just a slow learner.  I wasn’t sure which.  After a week or so I could see that he is easily distracted, and needs extra help to get what he is to do.  He is a pleasure to help as he really tries to get what you are teaching him.  Lately I’ve felt badly because some of the students are making it hard for the others who want to learn.  Last week I was talking to the principal about how hard it is to teach students like Jesus when I have to spend so much energy controlling the behavior of others.  Then this afternoon I was reading the students’ mini-portfolios and came across a note from Jesus.  He said that he is having a hard time learning because of the behavior of the other students.  He said he thinks I need to be a little meaner, maybe not so nice.

Wow, okay.  From the mouths of babes.  So I have decided to make a little referral card to send those who need to refocus to the Intervention office to complete the school’s “refocus form.”  It will take them out of class for a time while they focus on what they really need to be doing, and will give the other students a chance to settle down.  Hopefully by the time the offending student returns the class energy will be strong enough together that the one sent out will just join in, or at least sit quietly.  I will also ask for parent meetings or at least make a parent phone call when I have to send a student for such intervention.

Something has to be done, as we can’t go on like this, and I can finally see who it is that needs refocusing most often.  So, we’ll see how that goes next week.

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