April 16, 2016

Small Group-Second Grade Boys-AnGeR

We have quite a few firecrackers who are quick to set off sparks in our second grade. 
The intervention specialist approached me with an idea. She said, “Maybe a few could benefit from a group to help deal with anger?”

From there this plan began.

We brainstormed a few boys we thought would benefit from a group like this. She saved me so much time and spoke to the teachers to make sure there were no conflicts and all could meet up at the same time. She truly made sure our group was complete.

We were ambitious; we agreed to take on eight adorable handfuls.
What were we thinking?

She coordinated with the teachers and managed to make the timing of the group fit like a glove with my schedule. She was such a lifesaver and instrumental in getting this group started. I am currently dealing with a ratio of 1:1200 of counselors to students. That's a whole lot of them compared to very little of me. I'll take all the help I can get. 

She convinced the Assistant Principal to print a colored workbook for each student. All I had to do was sort the copies and make sure the pages were in order,  

(I would print one copy at a time because it will print the pages in order and you can skip this step. They would come out like they are in this picture and you wouldn’t have to sort the individual pages, you’d just pick it up and fold it in half avoiding any chance of getting pages out of orderJ)

Fold the pages in half and staple down the side. 
Our small group was ready to go! She’s a lifesaver.

Week One
Session 1
Tuesday, 35 minutes  

My Intervention Specialist is the bomb. She was outside waiting for the boys, counting down to the minute recess ended. She was excited and ready to go. I walked up right as recess was ending and when it was time, she called the boys and they excitedly bounced her way. Within 30 seconds of recess finishing, she had the boys picked up from recess and lined up ready to go. I instantly realized she was way better at managing a group than I am. I could never have gotten them to be that compliant that quickly.

I am thinking I am going to learn a lot from her.

We started walking, they started off calm and innocent, until we walked about ten feet. Then, one was in the bushes, two were pushing each other and one was spinning in circles. I’ve never done an all-boys group. We’re in for an adventure.

We wrangled them and got to the conference room. It was the only space big enough to accommodate the six (if all were present eight) boys and two adults. It worked out pretty well, they felt so special in there. We replaced the spinney chairs with their regular plastic chairs but they still felt awesome sitting at the big conference table.

For our first meeting together, we introduced ourselves, went over the purpose of our group, and we came up with group norms/rules. One of the rules that was said was, “Don’t flip off your teacher because they try to help you.”

I didn’t quite realize what I was signing myself up for.

The boys called out left and right and weren’t great at raising their hands and waiting to be called on. They were very respectful though. I was surprised at how quickly they said, “Yes ma’am” redirected themselves and got quiet. They seemed very sweet, but I could see how they could cause some commotion in a classroom.

At first, it was like herding stray kittens trying to get these six to focus. It was quite a hilarious scene. She got those boys under control quickly and really modeled how you can be firm yet loving. These boys are much different than the girls I am used to. I’ve never had an all-boys group before; I am excited for the challenge.

Once everyone had their turn to talk, here’s the rules they came up with:

After we came up with our final rule we all signed and circled our names. I thought that the signature would make them feel personally accountable for upholding the rules. I liked their crooked smiles and the way they strutted away from the board after they signed their names. 

They were really proud.

After the norms/rules were established, we took an anger pretest. I wanted to see what specific areas they were struggling with to better serve their needs and to be able to cater the examples used to help them make necessary connections during our lessons.

They were pretty spread out sitting at our large conference table. A side benefit I hadn’t realized that came with using this room is really honest answers from the boys. They were too far apart to copy off each other or try to align their answers with those around them. They all seemed to feel confident enough to answer honestly and we gathered some eye opening data.

It was a little heart breaking to see how many answers they said yes to. It’s tough being so little with such big emotions.

As a group, we read each question out loud and the boys marked yes or no depending on if the statement applied to them. Once we read and answered the final question, they were done for the day. They said their final ideas, we lined up and headed out.

We walked them back to their classes and high fived when the last one left us.

That went very well.

Session 2
Thursday, 35 minutes

The two students absent on Tuesday were here today. A different two students were absent leaving us with six for the day. I think six will be the max from here out. I know that there are two trained adults leading this group and we could accommodate more boys, but I like the amount of one-on-one attention we are able to provide in this setting. I think having a smaller ratio of teachers to students allows the boys to explore their feelings deeper by bouncing ideas off of us, and each other, in a more intimate setting.

Once again, she had rounded them all up from recess and had them ready to get started. Two boys were at a different playground so I went to grab them. They were the two boys that were absent on Tuesday. “This is going to be so boring. This better not be sooooo booorrringggggg.”

Thanks buddy.

Once we got everyone rounded up and situated in the conference room, we started the second session by introducing ourselves to the new members of the group. We went around the room and everyone said their name, their teacher and their favorite animal (they chose that activity).

Then we broke into the good stuff. We passed out the workbooks and they excitedly started talking about the character and the colors. The other teacher and I met eyes and I gave her a silent well done. She really did step the awesomeness of this group up by convincing admin to print colored copies for us.

The boys proudly wrote their names on the cover.

The boys took turns reading the information and the questions out loud. It got to the point where they were super excited to share and read. For our next meeting together, instead of sharing as a whole group, I am going to have them work cooperatively in groups of two taking turns sharing a story back and forth. I want them to feel heard and have a safe forum to express themselves, but due to time constraints it isn’t possible to give each of them that level of one on one interaction for every step of the workbook. But, I am stoked that they had such a good time and were so completely engaged while working through the first few pages.
While I was circulating the table checking on everyone’s progress on the question we were working on, a boy started talking to me out to turn, I realized I listened and responded.

She didn’t. She called them out for calling out.

She held them accountable. She was teaching them respect.

I realized in that moment that by not correcting the boys, which allows them time to reflect on their actions, I was giving them instant satisfaction and further instilling their idea that calling out gets you attention quicker. I was not helping them to master impulse control. In this scenario and setting, I was hindering their ability to control their impulses.

That was about to change.

After I had this realization, the next time someone started blurting, I walked over to them and quietly and respectful told the student, “That was an example of a callout. I will not respond to a callout. If you would like to raise your hand and wait, I would be happy to answer you.” He raised his hand. He patiently waited, by patiently waited I mean frantically shook his hand at me to the point I thought it might fall off.

I counted to three in my head. Once I hit three, I put him out of his misery and called on him. 
He waited the whole time and spoke once I said his name.

She just taught me how to help extinguish call outs from this little boy.

Impulse control just became a side component to this group.
We worked through the first four pages of the workbook today. The boys were introduced to the idea that anger can be controlled and explored how they look and what their body does when they are angry. My favorite part was the self-portrait.
Aligning with our on-the-fly, new impulse control goals, we let them each choose three, and only three crayons to create their pictures. If you wanted to work together to share crayons you could, but the rule is you could only have three crayons at a time. If you needed a new color, you had to work as a team and work out some trades. Me forgetting the box of crayons and having limited crayons in the conference room turned into quite the learning opportunity for following rules, working cooperatively and sharing. If anyone asks, I left the box on purpose :P

We were starting to run out of time so I told them for next week to think about what gets them angry and what they usually do to handle their anger. I can’t wait to hear the stories they bring next week.

I asked the boy who said that our group was going to be boring how he liked it. He gave me a gap toothed grin and a big hug. Yeah, I left with some pep in my step thinking I was pretty cool. “That kid” learned something from me today and just rewarded me with a hug.

Man I like my job.

Click to find out more information about the Anger Workbook!

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