Skip directly to content

Engaging the Outlier

Have you ever had a student in your ICT classroom who seemed to need more support than most of your other students? Did you find yourself lying in bed at night wondering what else you could do to help this student succeed? In my inquiry, you’ll hear my story of this very challenge. You will hear about my decision-making process, how I interacted with the student’s family, school, administrators, and of course the student himself. Most importantly, you will get new ideas for resources you will be able to use to support kids in your classroom and schools.  
I am Ashley Abelson, a third grade special education teacher at PS 183 on the Upper East Side. I have been teaching for five years, and always have worked under my special education license. I work in an Integrated Co-Teaching (ICT) classroom with 28 children, 12 children with IEPS,  with a lot of behavioral support needs as well as academic learning needs. A general education teacher, 3 paraprofessionals, a student teacher, at times an occupational therapist, and a speech-language pathologist all work in my classroom at once. There could be anywhere from five to nine adults in our classroom at one time. With so many people in one space at once, I needed to implement a simple and direct approach to provide positive approaches to help with behavior needs, one that everyone could get on board with. 
As a fifth year special education teacher, this was my most challenging year yet.  I worked with 28 children, and 12 children had IEPS. Many of my students were not on grade level and their frustration was palpable and led to many negative behavioral moments. Since there were so many behavior concerns in my classroom, many children were not able to be successful in the classroom. I worked closely with TCICP in order to find research and intervention techniques that would positively support the behavioral growth of my students.
My inspiration began with Dr. Ross Greene, whose words you can read below:
The journey starts with a close look at your beliefs about why a child is exhibiting challenging behavior. If some of the common cliches--attention-seeking, manipulative, coercive, unmotivated, limit-testing--have been coloring your view, you're going to need some different lenses. And if you've been thinking that passive, permissive, inconsistent, non-contingent parenting is to blame, you'll need to do some rethinking there too. Thanks to an enormous amount of research that's been conducted over the past 50 years, we've learned a lot about behaviorally challenging kids. We've learned that what we've been saying about them (and doing to them) has often been counterproductive and ineffective.