I came across an article in the Washington Post, that talks about how 4-5 years are being suspended from preschool in D.C. and the percentages are getting higher. “Among the students that are being suspended was African American Boys, and English Language Learners. According to the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights, children with disabilities made up nearly 20 percent of all preschool suspensions.”
I really believe that part of this problem, especially when it comes to the special needs students, is a lack of training on the part of the teachers. When children with special needs enter a center and the teacher is not sure what to do with them, it can upset the entire classroom. These students might need an aide or teacher that can work with them on an individual basis, which isn’t always available in preschool. And often times these students have not been diagnosed with any kind of special need, so they are labeled as difficult students when they really are not.
It also sounds like there is a gap in communication with the children that are learning English. When children feel like they are not being heard or their words don’t matter, they will act out. As far as, the African American Boys, boys tend to be more active than girls. I think that it is important for teachers to figure out what they are dealing with, when it comes to boy’s behaviors. Sometimes boys are simply being boys which can be interpreted as behavioral problems, when it really isn’t. When I have overzealous boys in my classroom. I try to find something that will keep them engaged, so that they won’t resort to play fighting. Let’s be honest though, sometimes African American boys are singled out because they are African American and for no other reason than that.
I’m not sure what kind of behavioral problems that the teachers were experiencing, the article didn’t address that. However, I don’t believe that a student should ever be allowed to stay in a preschool program if they are hitting teachers, or a danger to themselves or others; this becomes a safety issue. I have observed students that have done this. These students were allowed to stay in the program, until their behavior escalated to a point where the teacher was frustrated and the other students were being affected by the constant outbursts.
I think it is important to educate yourself about every child in your class. Find out about their life and the challenges that they have already experience or have not experienced as children. Knowing their background will help you better relate to them. Don’t take this information as a way to feel sorry for them, that’s not what they need. Feeling sorry for a person, doesn’t allow them to grow as individuals. Provide understanding on your part, this will open them up to trusting you with their feelings; creating a better teacher student relationship.
Sometimes this might be difficult in certain situations, and the teacher and the student might need time away from each other to re-group and start fresh another day.
How do you handle students with challenging behaviors in your classroom?