Wednesday, December 19, 2007


I hope everyone has an excellent holiday and takes plenty of time to relax and rejuvinate. Have a great proactive, positive new year.

Saturday, November 17, 2007


Sorry, it has been awhile since my last post. We have been in Canada giving seminars.
A question came up regarding passive aggressive students in the last seminar that I would like to address in this post.
Passive aggressive behaviour usually as the individual's feeling of powerlessness within their environment. By exhibiting non-compliance, complaining, not completing work tasks, or "purposeful" forgetting, while appearing to be polite, accommodating, and not understanding why people are frustrated with them. Could this behaviour actually be the result of the student's lack of self esteem and does the negative attention for the behaviour continue to drive the behaviour?
Student's learn very quickly that they receive attention for their passive aggresive behaviour. It may be that their behaviour is reinforced through receiving the negative attention rather than trying to avoid the task or assignment. Passive aggressive students may also feel that is not okay to express their anger or feelings so they express these feelings through their passive aggressive behaviour.

The DSM-IV also contains criteria for passive aggressiveness noting the following behaviours.

"A. A pervasive pattern of negativistic attitudes and passive resistance to demands for adequate performance, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by four (or more) of the following:
(1) passively resists fulfilling routine social and occupational tasks
(2) complains of being misunderstood and unappreciated by others
(3) is sullen and argumentative
(4) unreasonably criticizes and scorns authority
(5) expresses envy and resentment toward those apparently more fortunate
(6) voices exaggerated and persistent complaints of personal misfortune
(7) alternates between hostile defiance and contrition

The triggers that may be exhibited by the student:

1. Frustration with self or others - at this point they have no idea how to turn the situation into a positive result so they begin to try to seek negative attention
2. The student may have successfully "annoyed" the teacher and the teacher may respond with a reprimand.
3. May lead to student defensiveness. "You don't like me" "I never did anything" May respond as the victim.
4. The teacher may try to regain control by focusing on the student's negative attitude.
5. The teacher may then try to "lay down the law" which reinforces the student's perception that he/she is the victim and the teacher treats them poorly.
This tends to occur in cycles and the negative behaviour is consistently being reinforced.


1. Determine the inappropriate behaviour through a functional assessment.
2. Analyze your own behaviour when in conflict with the student. Does it escalate the response? How do you feel after the conflict - confused, frustrated, angry?
3. Make a list of the behaviours that annoy you the most. Target the first 3 - 5.
4. Outline the behaviours that you feel would be acceptable beside the undesired behaviour.
5. Keep yourself calm and protect yourself from engaging in a manipulative attempt by the student.
6. Formal meeting with the student and the parent to outline what the proactive plans are to help the child learn new and acceptable behaviours.
7. Let the child know that you care if they pass or fail, feel happy or sad, loved or unloved......
8. Peer involvement may be beneficial in helping the student.
9. Don't forget that the student's behaviour is not always passive aggressive because they are disengaged from the learning that is being presented.
10. Teach positive self talk strategies so the student can begin to realize that they are not a bad, naught or awful person.

Helping the student make sense of their behaviour may help free the child from their hopelessness (Marquoit, 2004). Decrease the focus on the behaviour and try to intervene by trying to understand where the student's anger originated and work on those issues to help the child overcome and work through their anger. Increasing the relationship between the staff and student is a priority. Helping the student realize that the anger is typically an irrational belief that all adults are not interested in helping them (Marquoit, 2004).

You may want to try this book: Managing Passive Aggressive Behaviour of Children and Youth: The Angry Smile by Jody Long and Nicholas Long

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Class Wide Peer Tutoring is a program that has been developed to help students struggling with math, reading and spelling. The program was designed for those from Kindergarten to Grade 8.

The program is based on the following steps:
1. Dividing the class into two teams
2. Within each team - classmates form tutoring partners
3. Students take turns tutoring each other.
4. Tutors are provided with academic scripts. eg. Math problems with answers.
5. Praise and points are contingent upon correct answers.
6. Errors are corrected immediately with opportunity to practice to get the right answer.
7. Teacher monitors tutoring pairs and provides bonus points for pairs following procedures
8. Points are tallied by each individual student at the conclusion of the session.

Tutoring sessions usually last 20 minutes with 5 minutes to chart progress.

A web site to have a look at to get more of a full picture.....

A research article that had positive results with the program and some other proactive strategies. Worth having a look at:

School-based interventions for children and adolescents with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: Enhancing academic and behavioural outcomes by George Dupaul & Lisa Weyandt

Friday, October 5, 2007


Let's start talking strategies:
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: Effective Methods in the Classroom by Robert Reid has some good ideas for working with ADHD students in the classroom.
1. Classroom environment- looking at both management within the classroom and the physical setup of the classroom needs to be analyzed. Classroom needs to be organized and clear consistent boundaries set up. Create a predictable, structured instructional regime with effective communication expectations.
2. Instructional schedules where the student is required to accomplish tasks at peak times.
3. Preferred vs. non-preferred activities. Schedule non then preferred with verbal praise.
4. Calm, brief, unemotional feedback in challenging situations.
An appendix is given that gives specific strategies for specific difficulties: For example: Problems getting started with tasks - visual cues for redirection.
5. Analyzing the antecedants. Task difficulty, noise, disruptions, stimulus overload needs to be minimized.
6. Using physical activity or movement to prevent further distractions.
7. Organizational strategies for the student to obtain help. Task completion visuals.
8. Curriculum and instruction methods need to coincide for retention of material.
Many others are also provided. Good article.

Friday, September 21, 2007


Just finished two great seminars in Caloundra and Toowoomba. The one issue that teachers feel very strongly about is the need for collegial support and increased resources for working with challenging children. Recognizing the importance of inclusion with full support and resources needs to be addressed. Can we have full inclusion without the required resources?? Any thoughts??


Oppositional Defiance Disorder and Conduct Disorder are two disorders that are becoming very difficult in the classroom to maintain. Researchers have estimated that 6-16% of the population may be diagnosed with ODD or CD. Some researchers have even stated that 1 in 100 students may have these disorders. Early intervention is the key for these guys. Applying strategies at a very early age can be a decisive factor in how they learn to cope as they go through life. Here is a site that focuses on the perspective of a parent with a son who has ODD. I have also included a case study example for further discussion.

Thursday, September 6, 2007


This post is in response to an inquiry received from one of the teachers that attended a New Zealand seminar. The question was in relation to a couple of students who would become very silly when they received positive feedback from their teacher. One of the areas that I cover in the seminar is centered on positive feedback for students who may react negatively when a teacher or authority figure tries to give them positive verbal reinforcement. Sometimes children may feel uncomfortable when given positive reinforcement and in turn may resort to exhibiting inappropriate behaviour. Refer back to the notes on positive reinforcement and starting to give feedback using the "third person labelling on the fly" where the teacher labels the behaviour but does not indicate whether it is positive or negative. Once the students are comfortable with this type of feedback move on to stopping at their desk and again using third person labelling. Depending on the age of the students you can also use "praise cards" or "check cards" on their desk to let them know they are doing good work. Not giving it too much attention. Work up to providing second person labelling and then positive reinforcement. Phillip Hall in his book "Educating Oppositional and Defiant Students" can also provide some good information for strategies. If anyone else has ideas, feel free to comment.

Thursday, August 30, 2007


Just watching one of the videos that had come through You Tube. The doctor in the video asserts that immunizations cause Autism. I think this is a very bold statement as the wider medical community does not seem to share this belief. If immunizations were the cause of autism would all the kids who had immunizations be affected by autism? Is there a resilience to immunizations for some kids so they do not acquire this particular disorder? This link may be helpful in researching the statement:

Saturday, August 25, 2007


Bill Gates recently gave a speech at a High School about 11 things they did not and will not learn in school. He talks about how feel-good, politically correct teachings created a generation of kids with no concept of reality and how this concept set them up for failure in the real world.

Rule 1: Life is not fair - get used to it!
Rule 2: The world won't care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.
Rule 3: You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school. You won't be a vice-president with a car phone until you earn both.
Rule 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.
Rule 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your Grandparents had a different word for burger flipping: they called it opportunity.
Rule 6: If you mess up, it's not your parents' fault, so don't whine about your mistakes, learn from them.
Rule 7: Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent's generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.
Rule 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT. In some schools, they have abolished failing grades and they'll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer. This doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.
Rule 9: Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF. Do that on your own time.
Rule 10: Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.
Rule 11: Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one.

Friday, August 24, 2007


“I have come to a frightening conclusion. I am the decisive element in the classroom. It is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather.

As a teacher, I possess tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humour, hurt or heal.

In all situations it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escaped or de-escalated and a child humanized or de-humanized.”

Dr. Haim Ginott


One of the greatest skills that teachers of today require is the ability to de-escalate a situation that may become volatile and out of control. Teachers are increasingly aware that students are coming to their classrooms with difficulty in social skills, anger problems, neurobehavioral disorders and learning disabilities. Teachers face an increase in school violence and oppositional students as well as parents. The skills and confidence a teacher has in dealing with challenging situations may be the key to preventing a power struggle with a student or parent.

How do teachers prevent or de-escalate a potentially challenging situation? This is a difficult question as each challenging individual is unique and the teacher may not be aware of the full history of the individual they are presented with. Here are some strategies teachers can try to keep situations under control.


1. Recognize the individual’s triggers. What occurs before a behaviour occurs? Can the trigger be recognized and can strategies be implemented before the behaviour escalates?
2. Read the individual’s “state of behaviour”, body language or emotional state in order to determine whether instructions will be followed or opposed. Example: Head on table, slammed books on desk – May not be ready or willing to follow your instruction. Try to change the state by approaching the student quietly after you have started the class and try to determine if the student is willing to begin or has something happened that makes it difficult for the student to attend.
3. If instructions are opposed give the individual time to process what the instruction is actually asking them to do. Make sure instructions are clear and precise. Visual instructions or visual indicators for starting a task may also be required. Try to give instruction and withdraw attention in order to prevent a power struggle.
4. Secondary behaviour may need to be ignored during the immediate situation but should be revisited when there is time and everyone is calm.
5. If instruction is still not being followed, make sure the next instruction is not stated as a threat. Example. “If you do not follow my instruction you will have to go to the office”. This may come across to the student as a challenge. “Make me!”
6. Repeat the initial instruction and withdraw. Pay attention to those that are following instructions.
7. If the behaviour escalates as it might, depending on the individual, make sure you have a specific “discipline plan” that involves other supports if possible. If the student is violent make sure a plan is devised and everyone who works with the child is aware of the requirements of the plan.
8. If the office needs to be called – Have the person who comes from the office take the class and if the teacher feels confident enough have the teacher work with the student.
9. If the child is older and walks out swearing, cursing, slamming doors etc… Make sure the office is informed but do not follow the student out of the classroom. Allow them to leave but before they re-enter a meeting must occur between the student and the teacher to try and repair the relationship. A trip to the office may be required but the teacher still needs to determine whether the student understands that they must work together in the classroom without conflict. This is why a meeting with the teacher should happen to re-establish routines and rules.
10. Humor may help. Sarcasm may escalate.
11. Using a calm voice, non-threatening body language and repetitive instructions may help in de-escalating a potentially volatile situation.
12. Walk away from a power struggle that is escalating. It is not about winning the fight. Sometimes teachers need time to regain their emotional state and may need time to re-group. IT IS OK… “I need time away from you right now but we will discuss this when we are both calmer and willing to work together.”
13. IS IT EASY?? NO NOT AT ALL. Some situations may escalate even though you have done everything you could to keep it under control. Feedback with a peer, discuss the situation, brainstorm strategies and remember you can only do the best you can with the knowledge and skills that you have at the time.
14. ASK for HELP if you need it. Asking for help does not determine your success or failure as a teacher. Some children may come from extremely dysfunctional environments and may not be capable of interacting in a “traditional” setting.
15. TEAMWORK is very important when working with challenging children. We can’t do it all by ourselves.
16. ORGANIZATION is the key for teachers and for students. Unstructured time may lead to potentially challenging situations.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


Some people wanted the quotes from the beginning of the seminars. Here they are:

Children are our most valuable resource: Herbert Hoover

When I approach a child, he inspires me in two sentiments,: tenderness for what he is and respect for what he might become: Louis Pasteur

If we don't stand up for children we don't stand for much: Marion Wright Edelman

To value his own good opinion a child has to feel he is a worthwhile person . He has to have confidence in himself as an individual: Sidonie Gruenberg

While we teach our children all about life, our children are teaching us what life is all about: Angela Schwindt

We worry about what a chld will become yet we forget that he is someone today: Stacia Tauscher

One good teacher in a lifetime may change a delinquent into a solid citizen: Philip Wylie

It is not giving children more that spoils them, it is giving them more to avoid confrontation: John Gray

Level with your child by being honest. Nobody spots a phony quicker than a child: Mary MacCracken

If a child is to keep his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of a least one adult who can share it, rediscoverning with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in: Rachel Carson

A teacher affects eternity: He can never tell where is influence stops: Henry Adams

What nobler profession or more valuable to the state than that of the man who instructs the rising generation: Marcus Tullius Cicero

The important thing is not that every child should be taught as that every child should be given the wish to learn: John Lubbock

Teaching is the profession that teaches all other professions: Author unknown

Good teaching is one-fourth preparation and three fourths theater: Gail Goodwin

The teacher who is attempting to teach a without inspring the pupil with a desire to learn is hammering on cold iron: Horace Mann

SAVE YOUR SANITY - Seminars in New Zealand

Hello all:

Arrived back in Australia on Thursday night after an excellent trip through New Zealand. We started our journey in Auckland and presented a seminar to 35 participants which was very successful. A question that arose out of this seminar was intringuing and worth evaluating. Do cultural differences affect the approach to behaviour and curriculum development? In this case the discussion centered around the Maori people and the dilemma that occurs within the community in relation to the importance of education and expected behaviours. How to get the families involved with the school if their children are experiencing problems academically or socially? The discussion also touched on the prevalence of child abuse within the community as a young 3 year old Maori girl was killed the week we were in Auckland. Her 17 year old step father as well as other members of the family have been charged.

The next seminar was in Wellington with 34 participants. Again I was overwhelmed by the welcome I received. I have never experienced hugs and kisses at the end of a seminar but this seemed to be the norm as I received more as the trip went on.

In Dunedin, 43 participants attended the seminar and 64 attended the seminar in Christchurch. A question that came out of the seminar in Christchurch centered around the feeling teachers have when they are discussing the medical aspects of a particular disorder and how they approach parents with this kind of information as they are not doctors and feel they cannot cross over the line to recommend or discourage certain types of therapy or approaches. Any thoughts??

We have launched our ONLINE SCHOOL

One of the biggest issues that I hear about from teachers and caregivers is the behaviour of the children or youth in their school, program ...