Fieldwork: Thursday, Feb 27th, 2014 — “Don’t pick up the rope”

Today, the opportunity arose to ask the first teacher we assist some questions.


First I should explain why we had time, because there is a lesson in that as well:


You see this class time is typically their study hall.  This teacher had been struggling to keep order and productivity high during this unstructured time.  So she tried, something she does often with varying success, a new idea.  She proposed to the students that Monday – Thursday she would set a timer for different times throughout the class time and if during the four days every student was either reading or doing homework whenever the timer went off they would earn free time on Friday! And so they did!  There was one other condition – they had to be caught up on all missing/late assignments for all classes to participate. There was the opportunity to finish it, show her and then participate in free time.


Lesson:  Try, Try, Try! Never stop trying ideas out!



With the story share that occurred during our class time, unusual procedures and behavior were still fresh in our minds. So given the chance we asked her to share some knowledge/advice on emergency procedures.


In regards to alarms, she explained that there is typically 1 fire drill per month (per State Regs), two tornado drills a year, and that there would be an announcement on the overhead of an intruder drill.


She advised us to look up A.L.I.C.E.    It stands for:







It is NOT a list to follow, more a summary of options to continually review in the event of an intruder.


There is a letter of recommendation from the Wisconsin School Safety Coordinators Association (WSSCA)

that you can read here: that I found very informative.


When asked how she would react in a situation of two students fighting she gave us the following advise:

1.  Very similar to the ALICE program – there is no one right way.

2.  Assess the following:

– connection(s)

– placement

– cameras

– safety of students and yourself

– very much like a parent cannot take care of their child without first taking care of themselves, you are no use to anyone if you get hurt.


Then she shared perhaps the most fascinating approach to problem students in the classroom, by chance.


A student who we’ll call Bob, tried to argue that he didn’t have missing or late work so he was going to enjoy free time, but a teacher had listed some late work for him.  So our teacher called the other teacher to verify.  The work was not done.


Very ‘matter-of-fact’ our teacher told him he did have missing work to complete and once he was finished with it he could enjoy free time.


He kicked the leg of an empty desk, muttered and went back to his free time activity grumbling.


She continued her conversation with us.


After about 10 minutes Bob came back up with a piece of paper for her to see.  She thanked him and he resumed his play.


After finishing our discussion on emergency procedures, she pointed out Bob’s behavior and explained to us that the best piece of advice she could give us was “not to pick up the rope”.  It is a power struggle that the student wants to begin.  Ignore it.  It is not about who has power.  It is about School. It is about Procedure.  It is about making good choices (not dictating them).   Give the student time to think about the situation.  Give them time to make a decision about how they want to handle something.  Give them time to chose good… and most often… they will.


Bonus Lesson:  Don’t pick up the rope! 



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