I’m reading through Setting Limits in the Classroom: 3rd Edition, and even though it was written more toward elementary and middle schoolers, I find myself thinking about how some high schoolers are mentally and behaviorally similar, which often leads to referrals and suspensions.
Reflecting on what ISS is like now, it’s been a way for students to receive busy work from teachers (if any work at all) and be in a room all day without talking or listening to music. For some students, it doesn’t bother them that much, although they’d rather be doing something else or be at home. For others, it’s torture.
In the past, I hate to say that I didn’t do much when I was told a student would be in ISS for the day. I might have sent them some work to complete or review, but because most of my work is digital, they can’t really interact until they come back.
While reading this book, I had a small epiphany.
I am blessed with 1st block planning this year, so I have a great opportunity to meet with these students and spend time with them.
If one of my students receives an ISS because of an incident with a different faculty member, I can request they meet with me during 1st block (after checking in at ISS of course). I’d have to coordinate this with the ISS supervisor, but the student would come to me (or I would come to them, depending on their cooperation level), and we could sit down and discuss what happened and strategies to prevent it from happening again. If they didn’t feel like talking about it, we could talk about other things like their interests, goals for the day, what they did yesterday, etc. Either way, I have an opportunity to develop a rapport with the student.
If they have ISS from me, then I can have a more productive conversation about the triggers that caused the behavior and even hold time to model and practice successful and constructive behaviors. This way, I can teach them the skill they are lacking and address an unsolved problem (thanks, Dr. Ross Greene for Lost at School).
I also like that I can use this time for tutoring. Students with ISS can meet with me for first block (or a part of first block) to review missing work, get extra practice/help, and ask questions without the audience. To students, ISS often feels like a way for teachers to get kids out of their rooms because they don’t want them there, but if I can show them that I want to see them that day, even if it means giving up some of my planning period, then maybe they will see a different perspective.
Using resources like The Drilling Cheat Sheet and Plan B Cheat Sheet from Dr. Greene should help these conferences stay focused on helping students identify and come up with solutions to lacking skills/unsolved problems. I’ve also created my own Student Self-Assessment guide based on Dr. Greene’s ALSUP. View the full version here.
The other idea I liked from the section I was reading is making up for lost time. Students (not diagnosed with ADD/ADHD or learning challenges) who dawdle or procrastinate on assignments in class should be held accountable for that lost time. Lunch and before/after school are good times to complete work and get one-on-one help and address lacking skills/unsolved problems. The time lost from overly frequent or long bathroom breaks or “office/nurse” visits can also be made up during these times. Letting students know that these are a part of my classroom in the first few days will be key to making sure I stick to them.