Do You Ever Assume?

When was the last time you sat back and simply watched your child/student as he was working or playing? Did you ask yourself why he did a step in his action the way he did? Or did you simply assume he did it for “X” reason because he was trying to make it harder, or make more of a mess?

As a society, we have spent a great deal of time “assuming” intentions which were not even on a child’s radar. Therapists have dealt with adults still suffering from those past “assumptions.”

Be the adult your child/student needs. Learn to Never Assume with my book,

never assume 2013 small pixx

Never Assume: Getting To Know Children Before Labeling Them.

Mindfulness Mini-Summit

There has been a great deal of buzz in the last few years about mindset and schools.  Of course it is also important in the business world but by helping our children it sets the stage for better working relationships in adulthood.
I recently had the opportunity to work with Mariam Herrmann, Achievement Coach, who has been an assistant principal, educational therapist, and learning strategist and coach over her career. She interviewed me for her Mindsets: Meet The Challenge mini summit which is now available online. You have the option of registering to view the content during the free access period of October 13th and 14th, 2016, or to purchase a pre-order packet that includes annotated videosvideo indexaudio recording, and transcripts. These are great for PD or future use with clients.
As Mariam says herself  “The way we think and the perspectives that we take can limit our success or drive us toward it. Mindsets: Meet the Challenge is an on-line mini-summit for education leaders, designed to broaden perspectives about mindset that support growth and learning. Speakers from a variety of professions share insights that support both individuals and groups. Throughout the interviews, we discuss specifics of the topic and practical uses for a school environment.”
Take advantage of Mariam’s expertise as well as the expertise of her special guests. I can assure you, you will not be disappointed.
Patricia McGuire MD FAAP
The Pediatric Profiler

Seclusion rooms: yes or no?

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Where do you stand on the use of seclusion rooms?  What level of noncompliance should result in the use of seclusion rooms?  What are the federal and your state regulations on the use and when they should not be used?

These are questions being asked around the country, especially as we learn more about the ACE on future adults and the use without understanding the “whys” of the student’s behaviors.

I was recently interviewed by the Cedar Rapids (IA) Gazette about this topic after there were reports of seclusion rooms being misused in Iowa City.  Here is my LinkedIn article on it and the link to the original article in the Gazette.

Let me know your viewpoint after reading both of them.

Skills Deficits or Areas for Growth?

Training And Development

Why, when looking at helping children, do we focus on calling areas that they have yet to master as deficits and disorders, rather than areas for further growth with directed instruction?  Why do we take a deficits-based approach rather than a strengths-based approach?

Whether a child would benefit from more reading instruction using a multisensory, structured, language-based approach to master reading and spelling, more instruction and support in the development of social emotional skills, or instruction to expand his vocabulary and language skills through verbal and nonverbal means, we need to frame these are areas for further growth to add to his list of strengths. We would increase the child’s self-image and confidence by focusing with the child on where his current strengths are and where are areas of future strengths, which can be developed through individual, focused instruction.

This would require us to  not talk about having the student stop doing activities that showcase his strengths, such as art, music, or sports, which is a problem that many students have to live with. Instead, we need to focus on using the times already set in  the curriculum for the skills training needed for future endeavors by providing smaller group and individual skill-building instruction.  I know, we call this special education. But special  education focuses on deficits. Special education has also lost its focus on remediation as policies have changed to look at most-inclusive classrooms, which for students in need of skill building, become more restrictive environments.

In the world of sports, and in many  businesses, as this point, the emphasis has changed to coaching to focus on areas where strength building and skill development are the targets for advancement. A good coach doesn’t talk about where failures are. The focus is on what is the goal of the player or student.  Then the objectives and resources are looked at to help the student reach his goal. Some goals are many years away, such as a 3rd grader who wants to be a firefighter some day. But the objectives can be very similar academically for many long-term goals. The resources may include one-on-one assistance/instruction to build a firm foundation for further growth. It may entail providing technology for accessing knowledge beyond where his current academic skill-set it. It may require providing more instruction on the hows and whys of social emotional interactions, along with support and feedback as he practices these skills.

Let’s develop a growth mindset when looking at providing support to children. Let’s stop focusing on defeats but on future endeavors with the supports for success.

Why are we burning out all the professionals who help our kids?

pediatric profiler pictureBelow is the link to an article written by a relatively new teacher (about 5 years in the classroom) who lists all the things that she has done for her students and all the struggles they have experienced during her tenure.  She is strongly considering quitting the profession but wants the policy makers to understand why.

This burnout is not just occurring in the schools.  If you ask any of the professionals whose passion is helping children and adolescents, you will year the same issues, the same frustrations, and the same hopelessness about how we, as a society, are letting down our youth.

Love, Teach: What I Wish I Could Tell Them About Teaching in a Title I School

Please start a conversation here or among your colleagues about what she has said and what we can do, both at the grassroots level and at the policy level to turn this around. One thing is certain, we need our “in the trenches” professionals to be part of the conversation and solution, not just the ones who have to live with the “wisdom” of others.

How to decide whom to help

pediatric profiler pictureHave you ever come upon someone who needed help that you didn’t know?  Or even someone you knew but felt was somehow different? Did you stop to help?  Or did you avert your eyes as you veered away?
This video shows what happened as a social experiment using two individuals: What would you do? One looked like a businessman who fell while trying to use his crutches along a busy street.  The other was a homeless man who also fell while trying to use his crutches on a busy street.  How did it make you feel to see the difference?
Did you know that this same type of scenario occurs in schools every day with students who are seen as lazy, unmotivated, disrespectful, etc.  Having talked with over 3000 of these students in the last 30 years, I have heard their frustration of feeling like they are not being listened to.  That they are discounted by teachers and sometimes parents because they are judged on appearances.  They feel that no one actually tries to understand how they are struggling, how they are trying but not succeeding academically, socially, or in everything they try to do. 
Next time you see a child, adolescent, or student not achieving, will you take a minute to just stop and ask how you can  help.  Assume that they don’t want to fail, but rather need support to succeed.
Can you do it for them?  Please?

Smart is Dumb

I always enjoying reading Robert Whipple’s blogs because our views on how to lead are so similar. And those that know me know that I refer to Detective Columbo frequently as a model of how to work with children and adolescents, rather than the way today’s TV cops interrogate suspects. So much more information is gained by softly leading others to insights, than by trying to ram it down their throats. And believe it or not, sometimes others, including our children and adolescents do have good reasons and ideas.

Dud ManagerIn his famous program, “Effective Negotiating,” Chester A. Karrass, makes the observation that, in negotiations, often appearing dumb is a great strategy.

The idea is that acting naïve causes the other party to fill in some blanks with information that may ultimately be helpful to you in the negotiation.

Conversely, acting as if you know everything is usually a bad strategy, because you end up supplying too much information too early in the conversation. This habit gives your opponent in the negotiation a significant advantage.

As I work with leaders in organizations of all sizes, a similar observation could be made about leadership. Being dumb is sometimes smart, and being too smart is often dumb. Let’s examine some examples of why this dichotomy is a helpful concept.

To make enlightened decisions, leaders need good information. It sounds simple, but in the chaos of every day organizational issues, it is sometimes…

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