* Stop and count?

stop-565609_640Stop and count to 10.  I remember an era of social skills instruction that focused on counting to help kids control their temper and modulate their responses to conflict.  I ditched that strategy because it never worked.  No one ever counted, and if they had, would they have been better off?  After reading Crucial Conversations (through chapter six), I’ve been thinking about the best ways to help kids step outside a crucial conversation and adjust their responses.

The first steps described in Crucial Conversations are already a part of my social skills instruction.  Identifying potential conflicts and working towards a mutually satisfactory outcome are not too difficult for most kids.  In fact, those skills form the basis for most of my role-playing and social skills narratives.  But the “Learn to Look” aspect (chapter 4) is exponentially more challenging.  Can kids learn to step back and analyze their feelings when they feel unsafe?  Can they do that for others as well?  And having noticed that other kids feel unsafe, will they avoid responding in kind?  I think so.  In fact, many kids already have some of these skills because their parents and teachers model them effectively.

What if teachers routinely modeled these skills?  Imagine I am teaching a small reading group.  I ask a student to share their personal connection to the text.  They respond by saying, “This was so boring!  Why did we have to read it?”  I can use think-aloud as a strategy for modeling the Crucial Conversations-type response.  My key word for potentially difficult conversations has been safety.  I nod and say, “I need to step back a moment and think about whether this discussion is safe for all of us.  What do I really want to happen here?  Should I get grumpy or can I find out more about what you mean?  I believe that you really want to do your best in reading, so I need to find out what your strong feelings are all about.  I’ve already told everyone that I want discussions to be safe for all of us.”  I would then ask my student, “Can you tell us more about what you mean?  I want to keep this discussion safe for all of us.”  This can’t be the kids’ first exposure to this strategy, but it will reinforce previous structured instruction on keeping discussions and interactions safe.

I like it.  What about you?

6 thoughts on “* Stop and count?

  1. For the average child or one that doesn’t have a severe deficit with social skills this is an excellent way of modeling the thought process. However for a large growing population this would potentially put people in harms way. When working with the most challenged children its not as much as what you say its more about your body language and immediate actions after statements. For example lets use the scenario you mentioned where a child is bored. My first response would be to take a slight step back and wait for the students response if there would be a second one. The next steps would depend on any further comments from the student. To work with these extremely needy kids one must be highly trained in many areas. These areas are not only educational strategies for struggling students but de-escalation tactics, voice intonation training, counseling, and supportive coaching just to name a few.



    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I agree with you about the best response for this situation. I was trying to come up with an example of think-aloud modeling without too many caveats. My new goal for posting is to keep them shorter. I think some of my 1000+ word posts can be a challenge to read! Thanks for your insightful comments. I appreciate them!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Not to worry, Stacey. That was simply a contrived situation. I wanted it to include me and a student, not two students, and I wanted it to be some low-intensity statement. I appreciate that you are reading this carefully, because that student “comment” could represent a wide range of possibilities and my modeling could have been a ridiculous or inflammatory reaction!

      Liked by 1 person

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