Written Review of Behavior and Discipline Conference (grade contract)

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Conference Review:

IDEA 97 What Have They Done To Discipline? A Workshop on Behavior & Discipline December 4, 1998

Target Audience: Superintendents, Principals, Special Education Directors and Coordinators, alternative School site staff, Social Workers, Psychologist. Regular Education Teachers, and Special Education Teachers.

Presenter: Eric P. Hartwig, Ph.D. Administrator, Pupil Services Marathon County Special Education

This workshop provided: - Specific procedures (emphasizing legal and educational perspectives) on how to address behaviors and disciplinary issues

- Key recommendations for administrators an service providers

-Alternatives for addressing behavior, both functional and practical, as well as legal and procedural requirements.

Reaction I was interested in seeing Dr. Hartwig, especially after viewing a film by him on Functional Behavior Assessment Plans. The video was disappointing to me but, the conference was excellent. In fact, Dr.Hartwig, at one time during the conference asked his audience if anyone had seen the video. He then said, I apologize for that. As a presenter, I felt very comfortable in listening to him because I believed he was extremely knowledgeable. He used personal experiences and stories to illustrate each point he was making.

In reporting a synopsis of this conference I feel the highlights were some quotes and statements Dr. Hartwig made throughout his presentation. I will share those with you. To begin with, Dr. Hartwig was speaking about behavior plans. He stated that they should be on an individual basis. Often times the inappropriate behaviors are the students disabilities. He proclaims that behavior interventions should start with most restrictive. That statement goes against everything I learned. I agree that the intervention severity should match the severity of the inappropriate behavior but, Falls High Schools policy on Disciplinary Actions are based on Level 1 through Level 4. Least restrictive to most restrictive. He also discredited behavior managers philosophy that in individuals who demonstrate inappropriate behaviors need to build character. He claims that more so than not self esteem is not low but extremely high. He sited that gang members, criminals etc. have high self esteem. What should be assessed is understanding how behaviors impact others. In addition, how reinforced behavior impacts on others and taking responsibility for behavior. Dr. Hartwig belief is to reduce the behavior so it doesnt escalate.

Dr. Hartwig spent a great deal of time talking about his belief in that by the time inappropriate behaviors occur, It is too late to worry about how it started. Not to worry about consequences but the antecedents. Children learn appropriate and inappropriate behavior. The focus should be in prevention. Then, a question was asked. At what age should a student be identified as having behavior problems? He replied, The earlier the identification the better. At age 5-6 is the corrective age. At age 7-14 it is now an undoing bad to good. Unfortunately, I know through experience of working in the E/BD program that early identification is often not practiced. Parents are very resistant to identifying and labeled their child as a Behavior Problem Child. I have to wonder about due process. The more restrictions the more due process. This seems to be backwards to me and how I have dealt with my students. Our school district, and probably most school districts, have to be concerned about the threat of law suits.

Another interesting portion of Dr. Hartwigs presentation was his views on intervention plans. He gave numerous examples of pit-falls of behavior plans because of the adults inadequacies. The behavior plan needs to modify both the implementer and the students behaviors. He actually said that adults, Need to take-it in a performance deficit student. I also enjoyed a furture statement that, Punishment works for kids who dont need it. My personal experiences reinforce his belief of the part that antecedents play in behaviors. Through Functional Behavior Assessments educators can determine, by closely monitoring behavior problems, what sets-that child-off!. By controlling or modifying those antecedents it can lead to what will give you the most success. However, like Dr. Hartwig stated, Any behavior modification will only work for a period of time not as a forever solution. Students will adjust and then the antecedents need to be changed.

I related to what Dr. Hartwig called Front Loading Process. This is when a student takes so much of staffs time because they are acting out. Almost every teacher can recall that one student that took such a high percent of their time. Also, in special education I hear of why a small percent of students get all the extras. An example of a student that front loads is when they burn out the teacher, case manager, counselor, principal with the large amount of time spend dealing with them. He warn that professionals need to keep the focus on the student and not get frustrated with each other. Students and parents will transfere the problem into spinning the professionals. In addition, he warns against a teacher saying, If I could just get rid of that problem child I would have more time with the other students. He said, I will guarantee that a new problem child will always take the place, so do fret over the time spent on that child because others area gaining from it indirectly. His also stated that if a student says, Thats not fair, it is best to say that youre right life isnt always fair. It is not necessary to defend. I would encourage anyone who could benefit from hearing about someone who has made a career of dealing with discipline and behavior problems to give Dr. Hartwigs views a chance. If for no other reason to hear of others dealing and struggling with it.

-- Anonymous, December 08, 1998

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