Friday, 29 July 2011

Seven Deadly & Seven Caring Habits

The two students mentioned in my last post arrived unannounced in our room earlier this week. We had been provided no details of the problem they had experienced and no intended outcome for their placement with us.

We didn't have time to speak with them straight away - they arrived during our daily administration time, so I set them to work on a task that I dreamed up on the spot.

They had to work together to create two PowerPoint presentations. One will be called "The Seven Deadly Habits" and one will be called "The Seven Caring Habits." You must find out what all of these habits are. Google them, but when you do your search, include the word "Glasser."

Each presentation must have a title page and one page relating to each habit. You can use pictures, sound files, animations or links to related web pages. When you are finished. I will come across and run you through your presentations, describing why they are important to us.

About forty five minutes later, a little voice said "We're finished."

I went across and did as I promised, playing their presentations for them and guiding a discussion of the deadly and caring habits. I'm going to put their presentations onto the computer in our school foyer, which plays student work samples and school promotional pieces all day long.

W - What did I want?
To give the new arrivals a time filling but relevant task to complete until we finished our daily administrivia.

D - What did you do?
Outlined above.

E - Did it work?
Yes. We received two quality presentations that we will be able to use within the school.

P - What learning will I take away from this?
Setting a simple task with few limits can provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate their creativity and technological skill. I will use tasks like this in future either before starting a unit of work, or at the end of one.

Shadows & Deeper Shadows

Yesterday, we were working with two young men who had been suspended from school for fighting over questions that one of them had been asking the other privately on facebook. Apparently, on the recent school holidays, one young man asked the other if he liked such and such a girl. His reply was, "no." The other young man continued to ask him this question and related questions through his facebook inbox.

To cut a long story short, on returning to school, the question answerer felt threatened by the question asker and a fight ensued.

I decided to use the Shadows & Deeper Shadows cards (which were used during my Intensive Advanced Week training) during one of our sessions and I wanted to focus on giving ourselves better advice.

I removed all of the cards which did not contain pictures of people and used only those with people in them. I asked the young men to each select a card. Any card at all which they found interesting. Our Learning Support Officer and I did the same. We then had three minutes of thinking time to develop a history of one of the people in the card (kind of like developing a character in Drama lessons). We each took a turn in telling the history of our person and what has led the person to be where we see them today. We also asked each other questions about the people in their cards.

We introduced the concept of Total Behaviour (without calling it that) by describing the feelings, thoughts, physiology and actions of the people we had created.

Then, we asked the young men to pretend that they were the very best friend of the person in the card. They were given the brief "Give your very best friend the best advice possible to help with this situation". This was great. It opened up a great deal of discussion and the empathy that the students displayed was quite surprising (lucky that these cards focus on the darker emotions).

After that, we talked about how the person we spend most of the time communicating with each day is ourselves. We gave examples of positive and negative self-talk and what it means to give ourselves good advice.

We placed our cards back into the main deck (with the non-person cards), shuffled them up and asked the students to pick a card that represented a time when they were feeling dark and not in control. After some thinking time, we had turns describing the situation and total behaviour components that went along with it. We then became our own best friends and gave ourselves the very best advice possible. We also discussed what we could have told ourselves at the time to be more accepting of the choices we had made.

These cards can be found here. I have to remember that I'm not developing an ebay shop here but the cards were brilliant to use in this situation. Teenagers often spend a great deal of time in dark places and can relate to these cards quite well.

W - What did I want?
I wanted a way of engaging the students in a discussion and activity about some of the darker emotions we experience.

D - What did I do?
I think I pretty much answered this above.

E - Did it work?

P - What learning can I take with me into the future?
Young people today are able to empathise with others, especially the elderly, and are able to discuss Total Behaviour when placed into the context of a situation. They are quite creative when they are allowed to explore their own imaginations and deeper feelings.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Cars 'R' Us

Okay, so last week I was working with a young man in year 8 who had been suspended from school for fighting. He has been diagnosed with ADHD by a paediatrician and takes medication. He believes he is a problem child.

I decided to use the Cars 'R' Us Kit, created by Ivan Honey, Russell Deal and Matt Jones.

I began by asking him to select a picture that represents the car he was driving on the day of the fight. He selected a fairly appropriate picture, showing two cars colliding. We had a discussion about how that car was feeling, what it was thinking, what it's body was doing and what its actions were. This discussion went on for about 10 minutes or so.

Then, I asked him to pick another picture, representing the car he'd like to be driving. He selected a flash, fancy and sporty looking car. We then discussed how it would feel to be driving this vehicle. What he'd be telling himself if he was driving this car, what his body would be doing and what his actions would be like. This discussion went on again for probably another 10 minutes.

I found that the cars enabled him to make a shift toward accepting responsibility for his own behaviour. It also enabled him to focus on his own total behaviour, not that of others, and what he would prefer it to be.

He made a plan of things he could do that didn't rely on anyone but himself so that he would be able to remain behind the wheel of the fancy car. We made a colour photocopy of the car he'd like to be driving and pasted it into his student diary, along with his plan.

I found the cards to be outstanding. In education, we are always reminded to separate "the behaviour from the person". The cards enabled us to do this quite easily, without allocating blame or value judgements. He could clearly identify that his total behaviour was chosen and that he would like to have been in more effective control. I'll keep posting my experience in working with young people and these cards as I try them out in a range of situations.

You can find the cards here, on Ivan's website or here, at Innovative Resources.

W: What did I want?
I wanted to see if we could use the Cars 'R' Us set to look at planning to take more effective control in the future.
D: What did I do?
Talked about total behaviours using images of the cars within a D. Barnes Boffey "Reinventing Yourself" framework.
E: Did it work?
Yes, very well. The cards made conversation smooth. It seemed less like a counselling session and more like a guided discussion.
P: What learning can I take away from this for the future?
The cards are easy to use and provide good visual cues for the people I'm working with, especially teenagers.

Friday, 22 July 2011


After completing an Advanced Intensive Week of training in Choice Theory, Reality Therapy and Lead Management last week, I've decided to keep a journal on how I use the concepts that I'm trying to internalise in my everyday life.

I work in a Suspension Centre in the state of New South Wales, Australia. These centres are designed to be short term educational placements for students who have been suspended from school for unacceptable behaviour. I believe that, in addition to providing an academic educational program for these students, it is necessary to provide a social support program to assist them in gaining more effective control of their lives.

If you find yourself here, feel free to have a read or make contact. I'm not sure what my thoughts or experiences will be worth but, hopefully, they'll contribute to my own learning.