There is neither a single cause, nor a simple solution to the problem of disproportionate discipline rates for African American, Latino, Native American and Special Education students. The most effective solutions address the issue on multiple levels, and do so without blame or shame for either students or teachers.
Ripple Effects training software can be a powerful supplement to RTI, PBIS and other existing efforts that address this issue.
For the part of the problem that can be attributed to student actions, we can help with reading-independent, behavioral training targeted to a particular offense (vandalism bullying, fighting, defiance etc.) AND to the underlying risk factors that prompt that behavior
For the part connected with teacher behavior and expectations, we can help with teacher training and embedded coaching. This includes coaching on how to deconstruct race-based attitudes and expectations, how to communicate empathy and assertiveness, and how to constructively respond to aggressive or disrespectful behavior as it arises
For the part that may be related to structural issues (i.e., discipline code, institutionalized racism), we can provide tools to assess what’s happening, and training for teachers, students and administrators to support justice making as a daily part of school culture.
For the small part of behavior problems that are due to chemical imbalance or deep characterological disturbances, our programs are NOT likely to have a significant impact; we recommend professional evaluation and support.
How it works – an example
Defiant behavior (insubordination) accounts for a very large number of discipline referrals. Although defiant behavior may be the same for many students, reasons for this behavior can vary widely:
Students may be:
- transferring anger from abuse at home to a safer authority figure
- diverting attention from learning difficulties
- seeking peer acceptance by acting out
- responding to a personality conflict with a teacher
- rebelling against (perceived) racial discrimination
- acting out of ignorance of more appropriate behavior
Teachers may be:
- Making a reasonable requirement for respectful behavior
- Making unreasonable requirements for submissive behavior
- Unconsciously disrespecting a student or students
- Unassertive (passive or aggressive) about expectations
- Acting on race-based expectations
- Uninformed about learning differences and special needs
In all of these instances, a 4-step intervention with Ripple Effects training software can be effective in changing behavior:
- Start with a strength – Learning Style or “Strengths” tutorials
- Complete the tutorial for the discipline worthy offense (defiance, disruptive etc.)
- Direct student to privately explore the underlying reason for that behavior in any domain (individual, peer, school, family, community)
- Have student choose a tutorial to build a strength (i.e. impuse control, anger management, appreciation for diversity) and learn alternative behaviors that will work for positive change
- Start with a strength – Learning Style or “Strengths” tutorial
- Complete the tutorial on getting respect
- Complete the tutorial on managing diverse learners
- End with a strength building tutorial in assertiveness, empathy, or connecting with students.
- Use the staff training software to respond to behavior problems when and where they happen, and to get on going coaching to be a more effective leader.
- Use Ripple Effects’ Respect for Persons Profiler to assess perceptions of systemic unfairness
- Customize a scope and sequence of specific tutorials to promote safe, respectful behavior, school wide.
Ripple Effects’ interactive learning system offers a private, safe way to explore sensitive issues, without fear of blame or shame. Diverse voices, stories, and behavior modeling from peers make the material feel relevant to users. Built-in, printable learner profiles and progress tracking make it easy to measure the intervention, monitor results, and share them with parents, teachers, and counselors.
For more information contact Lew Brentano
415.227.1669 (8:30am-5pm PST)