Monday, January 16, 2012

SEPAC 1-10-12 Meeting Minutes

Georgetown Special Education Parent Advisory Council (SEPAC) Meeting
Meeting Minutes, January 10, 2012 – 7:00pm, Penn Brook Library

January 10, 2012 – Georgetown SEPAC Meeting, 7-9pm, Penn Brook Library, 68 Elm St.: Bullying Prevention & Special Education
Did you know that while bullying is a problem for all students, special needs students suffer disproportionately? MA General Law 71 defines bullying as… defines bullying as “the repeated use by one or more students of a written, verbal or electronic expression or a physical act or gesture or any combination thereof, directed at a victim…” Richard Lavoie’s film, “Last One Picked…First One Picked On,” will help us better understand how students with special needs fare socially. “For most children, playing with friends is a daily ritual. But kids with learning disabilities are often isolated and rejected, lacking the social skills to make and keep friends. This 62 minute film will show how to help these kids succeed in everyday situations LAST ONE PICKED…FIRST ONE PICKED ON give parents and teachers greater understanding of social skills deficits and specific strategies for developing and fostering social competence.”
Before we show the film, Ms. Julie DeRoche, Director of Curriculum for the Georgetown School District, will speak for about 30 minutes on our district’s bullying prevention plan, professional development for teachers on bullying prevention, and how we as parents can support our children.

The Georgetown SEPAC thanks Georgetown District Curriculum Director Julie DeRoche very much for sharing with us her summary of the current Bully Prevention Curriculum our district has place. Ms. DeRoche noted that extensive teacher training in anti-bullying curriculum and classroom management techniques take place at regular faculty meetings as well as professional development programs. One focus has been on identifying “gateway behaviors,” such as eye-rolling, kids left to themselves, excessive giggling, and learning how best to respond to those in order to prevent bullying situations. Another concern of faculty has been how to teach children to advocate for themselves or others, how to speak up in dangerous situations to an adult for help. One parent questioned, “If we think our child is being bullied, who should we go to?” “That is a question many parents wonder about. I would advise first contacting your child’s teacher. If the problem continues, you should contact the school adjustment or guidance counselor, and then the school principal.” The handout Ms. DeRoche brought included the following information:

Georgetown Public Schools
2011-2012 Bullying Prevention Curricula
Perley & Penn Brook
• Bullying prevention curricula: Bully-proofing Your School – Thematic lessons include
o Friendship
o Making and Keeping Good Friends
o Caring Acts
o Kindness
o Concept of Bullying
o Rules of Bully-Proofing the Classroom
o Teaching Strategies for Victims
o Teaching Strategies for Helpers/Bystanders
o Creating and Maintaining the Caring Majority
o Collaboration with Parents, Family, and the Community
• Integrated lessons are taught in Physical Education classes (carry over to sports)
• Responsive Classroom Program, which teachers cooperation, assertion, responsibility, empathy, and self-control.
Georgetown Middle and High School
• Bullying prevention curricula: Bully-proofing Your School, taught in Wellness Classes, which are required at every grade level. Thematic lessons for the Middle School include:
o Adolescent Development
o Bullies, Victims, and Bystanders
o Teasing and Sexual Harrassment
o Avoiding Victimization
o Creating Caring Communities
Thematic lessons at the High School include:
o Legal and personal consequences of bullying
o Bystanders
o Emotional Impact of Bullying
o Bystanders: How to be part of the solution and not the problem
• 6 additional bullying prevention lessons for the high school were created and added to Bully-proofing Your School during district Professional Developments through collaboration between Guidance and Health teachers.
• Monthly staff meetings are held to assess and improve on the implementation of these lessons.
Resources and Training: - MARC: Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center-Bullying and Cyberbullying Prevention - MARC: Parent Resources - What To Do If Your Child Is Being Bullied, and more….

Everyone was fascinated by Rick Lavoie’s movie! Here are a few notes from it:

“Last One Picked…First One Picked On”
The greatest pain parents have does not spring from their children’s academic deficits, it comes from their social deficits.

Academic deficits affect your child in certain situations. A math or reading problem is not an issue at soccer. But social deficits affect the child in every situation, so there is no getting away from them.

People with particularly good social skills often make the worst teachers of social skills, because they cannot break down the skills for kids in order to teach them. The skills come too automatically to people who are socially comfortable. We assume a child will understand something that we teach them, but unless we have the vocabulary to break the behavior down step-by-step for them, they don’t. We have a hard time teaching what we don’t have to think about doing.

Learning disabled (LD) kids must be taught everything step-by-step.

The way most adults get interactions and conversations going is by asking questions of each other, through interrogation. That is extremely difficult for LD kids. Conversations for LD kids usually consist of a few declarative sentences, no questions. This causes huge social problems for them.

One big misconception that people have about kids with ADHD is that they have short attention spans. Many ADHD kids will hyper-focus on some things, often highly visual stimuli. In fact, high distractibility much more often characterizes ADHD kids than a short attention span. A child with a short attention span pays attention to almost nothing, and often functions at a lower cognitive level. A child with high distractibility pays attention to everything, often at a high cognitive level. Everything interests the highly distractible child, which leads them to view the world with a wide-angle lens. This lens can produce great creativity and energy. But when the world is requiring the child to focus on one thing in particular for a long time, that creates a challenge. For instance, instead of hearing a whole lecture, the child’s mind will start out on the lecture, then move to someone’s watch, their clothes, the curtains, the clock, etc.

Many children with learning differences often have disinhibition, which means that their inhibitory responses are low. Whatever is on their mind, comes out their mouth. There is no “edit” button on their speech. This is a huge social deficit that creates problems.

The impulsivity that ADHD kids experience produces an attitude in school, “If I can’t do it right, I’ll do it fast.” Ready, fire, aim. Thoughts of consequences are minimal. This also causes social problems.

In order to help our children learn from social situations, we help them conduct a “social skills autopsy.” What is an autopsy? A postmortem examination to discover the cause of death or the extent of disease. What is a “social skills autopsy”? A post social situation examination to discover the cause of a social situation gone awry. What was the action that caused the problem? What social choices could have been made that might have resulted in a better situation?

Two researchers, Fox and Weaver, broke students down socially into four groups:
- the rejected
- the ignored
- the controversial
- the popular (a person who others say they like even if they don’t know him)
Then they studied the popular group to find out what do these kids are doing right. What positive behaviors do they exhibit that make others like them? The Seven Positive Behaviors were:
- smiling and laughing
- greeting others
- extending invitations
- conversing
- sharing
- giving compliments
- maintaining a good appearance
Teach these to your kids, and their social standing will improve.

In another study, they found teacher pleasing behaviors, which included:
- being punctual
- establishing eye contact
- participating in class
- using the teacher’s name
- submitting work on time
- using the required format
- not crossing a lot out
- requesting explanations
- thanking the teacher
Teachers see all of the above as common courtesy. Teach these behaviors to your child to help him get along better with his teachers.

General teachers at a certain school told special education teachers that the most important skills they wanted special education students to have in class were 1) listening, 2) following directions, 3) staying on task, and 4) knowing how/when to get help.

What is the “hidden curriculum of the school”? It is the unwritten, unspoken rules of the school which make up the culture of the school. Embarrassment is what adolescents fear most, and understanding the school’s hidden agenda is critical to avoiding that.

The key to raising adolescents is to realize that 1) you cannot win, and 2) adolescents are not to be embarrassed. Every day, your adolescent starts off their day with some form of the plea, “Please God, do not let me be humiliated today.”

Kids reject other kids that teachers reject. Teachers need to set the example in accepting special needs kids. It helps if a teacher rewards the whole class for one student’s accomplishments, for example, if a teacher might say, “Wow, John, you turned your homework in on time, in the right place. Terrific job. Now we’re all doing well at that, so let’s celebrate with a movie (or a game, or group work, etc).” Then the other kids feel that John helped them get a reward.

Kids think, “Wow, Mr. Jones likes John, he likes me, so maybe there is something to like about John.” A teacher’s acceptance of a child fosters mutual respect.

Parents need to prepare the child for the situation and the situation for the child. To do that, we need to see things from the child’s perspective.

Some relevant websites include: - article, Batteries NOT Included, “I can’t,” versus “He won’t.” - Jonathan Cohen on School Climate: Engaging the Whole Village, Teaching the Whole Child.

Recommended Books:
Motivation Breakthrough: 6 Secrets to Turning on the Tuned-Out Child, by Richard Lavoie, 2008, 416pp
It’s So Much Work to Be Your Friend: Helping the Child with Learning Disabilities Find Social Success, by Richard Lavoie, 2006, 448 pp
The 6 Success Factors for Children with Learning Disabilities, by the Frostig Center, Foreward by Richard Lavoie, 2009, 232pp
Educating Minds and Hearts: Social Emotional Learning and the Passage into Adolescence, by Jonathan Cohen

Bullying, Prevention & the Law - The Georgetown School District’s Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan - MA State Laws - Wrightslaw: Bullying & Harrassment - Bullying and the Child with Special Needs

Let’s Get Along – Use kind words. Be quick to forgive. Listen. Share. Encourage others. Take turns. Think before acting. Talk it over. ☺

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