It is time to DIG in to another topic!
Classroom management! Since I am not in the classroom (but was for over 12 years), I am going to focus on a different perspective than many of my fellow blogging buddies. My son is autistic and therefore, I have put my classroom management skills to work at home as well. Most recently, we have been working on playing games and losing (not so) gracefully. Let me tell you….it was NOT pretty when we began! After playing some games and s
creaming, yelling, melting down, and refusing to continue to play not doing so well, it was time to step back and talk about what we could do calm ourselves down (yes, that includes mom too!).
So, after lots of talking about what we can do and what feelings we experience when we are feeling “green, yellow, or red,” we added the terms on this form. You can see that the tracks start down at the bottom, rise up (while emotions start creeping up), and finally go off the charts (at the red level). To my son, these tracks represented a roller coaster and the hills you go up and down. To your student, it may be something different (hills, train tracks, etc.).
After we created the chart, we started playing games again. But, this time, we stopped every minute or so to check our feelings. The conversations would go something like this:
Me: “How are you feeling right now?”
Him: “I’m feeling green.”
Me: “Can you use a feelings word to describe that?”
Him: “I’m feeling happy because the game is going well.”
Me: “That’s great! I’m feeling calm and excited because we are having fun together.”
Me: “How are you feeling right now?”
Him: “I’m starting to feel anxious!”
Me: “Why do you think you are feeling anxious?”
Him: “I’m not sure I’m going to win.”
Me: “I know you get anxious when you might not win. Remember, winning isn’t everything! What could you do to help yourself get back to the green feeling zone?”
Him: “I think I just need to take some deep breaths.”
Me: “Okay, let’s do that together.”
Of course, sometimes he would get to the red zone and not be able to talk for a bit. That is why we added “have alone time” and “have outside time” to the red zone. Sometimes, he just needed to be alone. However, our rule was that after that alone time, he had to come back to the game to at least talk through his feelings. If he was too upset to finish the game, but could verbalize that to me calmly, he didn’t have to finish the game.
He could earn tally marks every time we checked in on our feelings. He could earn 2 tally marks for staying calm AND using his Cool Tools (the poster). He could earn 1 tally mark for using his Cool Tools, even if he got a little upset. This was mostly because he is so hard on himself and feared that if he got upset, he would have no chance to redeem himself. He does much better when he knows that even if he makes a mistake, he can recover from it. Of course, that can be different for every child! He was able to cash out his tally marks for small prizes (a special snack, 10 minutes of screen time, or just chatting about his favorite topic). Those were HIS choices of activities, so you could have your student(s) help you choose rewards as well.
I am proud to say that after using this system for a couple of months, he now no longer needs to use the breaks and this poster. He is even okay that he won’t earn tally marks and get a reward. Of course, it is still available if he needs it. We are now working on having more conversations while playing games. And, that brings us to the skill we are still working on….having conversations that OTHERS are interested in as well. Oh well, we will get there!
You can grab this poster for FREE from my TPT store.
Remember, it is editable (in PowerPoint), so you can make it fit your needs. It is available with a girl and with a boy on the poster and my sample is available too so you know what could go in each space.
Don’t forget to check out all of the other great ideas for Classroom management by heading to Laura’s page at Where the Magic Happens.