Incredible Years Teacher Programme
This year long course has certainly been one of the best PD opportunities that I have had this year. Through seven sessions of videos, information, readings and group discussion with other teachers all in Junior level classrooms I have learned so much and had many aha moments. The IY programme is based on a pyramid and throughout the weeks we worked our way from the bottom to the top, from strategies that should be used first and most at the bottom, to the least used final steps at the top.
The six sections of the pyramid are broken down into:
- - Building Positive Relationships
- - Being a Proactive Teacher
- - Giving Attention – Encouragement and Praise
- - Motivating through incentives
- - Decreasing inappropriate behaviour
- - Negative consequences
It is hard to put into words all of the great things I learned this year so here are just some of them...
- Building strong relationships is the most important thing “a nurturing teacher-student relationship built on trust, understanding, and caring will foster students’ cooperation and motivation, and promote their learning, social and emotional development, and academic achievement at school” (Incredible Teachers, Carolyn Webster-Stratton, PH.D.) Building strong relationships doesn't take a lot of extra time. A simple 2 minute conversation every morning with a student can go a long way to strengthen a relationship. I found it very powerful with a few of my students to do some child-directed play during break times. They enjoyed being in charge and getting me to do whatever they wanted in their games.
- There are many skills that can be coached by a teacher: social, emotional, academic and persistence skills. Coaching academic skills can be done by simply naming the things that the students are doing while they work. Giving them the language (can be very beneficial for ESOL students) and is not demanding anything from the student, as questions would. Through social coaching you can label the skills they a showing and praise them at the same time e.g. I can see that (child) is sharing with (child), great job this way you both get a turn. Coaching persistence can give the child the encouragement they need to keep going e.g. I can see you are really focusing so well, even though it's getting tricking you are still working on those maths questions and now you're halfway!
- Social skills, emotions and solving problems are things that need to be explicitly taught so students can understand and learn how to self-regulate, learning how to calm themselves down, how to make friends and deal with others.
- Incentives can be a really powerful tool for a class (like fish tickets), for a group, or an individual. Working with a student and their family to come up with an individual incentive system and goals when necessary is so much more powerful than me just thinking about what they need to work on and what I could give. This gave more ownership to my students, who had already come up with the positive things they needed to do instead of the undesirable behaviour.
- "Ignoring muscles" are really important things for both you and your students to develop. They need to know why we are ignoring and be praised for it when they're doing a good job. Once a child has stopped the behaviour they then need to be re-engaged into the class/group. It was also really powerful for me to learn that it is important when a child is having a negative consequence (something taken off them etc.) to always focus on the first thing they did that caused it all and not act on any secondary behaviours. Ignoring the secondary behaviours that arise is a very important thing, because when you are ignoring it always gets worse before it gets better.
- Always focus on the positive! I was amazed with the way we saw teachers in the videos responding to so many different things in a positive way. Something that will stick with me was a video we saw of a teacher dealing with a tantrum. Just the way she could deal with something so frustrating, in such a positive manner amazed me.
- Natural vs. logical consequences - some consequences happen naturally without any intervention, e.g getting wet clothes when they go down the slide after being told not to. Whereas the logical consequences are those that are made by an adult to fit with what the student did.
Throughout the year we also chose one student that we would learn to build a behaviour plan for. I chose a child that was having difficulty regulating his emotions, who often became quite angry without knowing how to direct or control this. The behaviour plans had nine different steps, which we filled in as we learned about the pertinent strategies.
- Step 1: Identify the negative behaviour
- Step 2: Functional assessment (identify some reasons why you think the behaviour may be occurring)
- Step 3: Positive Opposite behaviour
- Step 4a: Relationship Building Strategies
- Step 4b: Proactive strategies
- Step 5: Teacher Attention Coaching and Praise
- Step 6: Motivating children through incentives
- Step 7: Decreasing inappropriate behaviours… ignoring and redirecting and reengagement
- Step 8 Decreasing inappropriate behaviour…following through with consequences
- Step 9: emotional regulation, social skills and problem solving.
I started with building a stronger relationship with him at the beginning of the year and then we worked together to address the negative behaviours. He now has his own incentives chart, which he is responsible for, with goals we decided on together (phrased as the positive opposite that he is learning to be able to do e.g. I can choose a good learning spot)and a reward he has chosen (stickers of cars, motorbikes and superheroes :) He also uses a calm down thermometer to take some time out to calm down when he becomes angry. He has worked incredibly hard this year and his behaviour now certainly shows this.
I am now proud to be an Incredible Years trained teacher, and I can definitely say that I have the confidence, skills and knowledge to build a great classroom culture and to know what steps I can take when any issues arise.