Physical Activity, Fitness, Academic Achievement, Academic Performance

Dr. Aaron Beighle hit me up on Voxer to discuss my blog titled The True Argument for Physical Education. He gave me some pushback on my loose verbiage. He went on to post his thoughts here on his vlog (video blog).

I have dictated his vlog for your viewing pleasure:

I want to provide a few very brief definitions. I want to talk about the physical activity as a behavior. It’s just any physical activity or any movement we do. I think we often confuse this with fitness.  Fitness is an outcome. Fitness is how well you do on a battery of tests or an individual test but it’s not the same thing as physical activity. Physical activity if it’s done as exercise can improve fitness, but fitness and physical activity are not the same thing.

Academic achievement is just basically standardized test performance. Academic performances are behavior, attendance, attention span, there are all kinds of things that influence academic performance.

I think where we get in trouble is we start focusing on fitness and academic achievement. As a rationale for physical education existing. Which I think physical education exists because we offer something unique that no one else does. But, fitness is something that’s controlled primarily by genetics and maturation. Frankly, some people will never decide to be fit; but, they can be healthy because the health comes from being physically active. We have to keep going back to that. We want kids to be active because the data is pretty clear the data on fitness and academic achievement is correlation and not overly strong.

What is strong are the data on physical activity and academic performance.  we know attention span goes up when they are active and behavior problems go down when they are active.  Those are two often cited barriers. As physical educators, we can improve and help foster physical activity. It’s really hard to foster and promote fitness, I think we have to be very careful on that. Fitness has its place. I’m not saying that fitness doesn’t have a part of this. I think some will choose to be fit some won’t. We have to focus on physical activity because that’s where the health comes from.

You should check out the book No Sweat by Michele Segar. It’s a fabulous book that shows we have some issues with how we do fitness. We probably aren’t doing it the right way. We are not using the right motivation or helping people find meaning in physical activity.

We need to focus on physical education. It stands on its own for the potential that we have for impacting the health and physical literacy journey for students. It also has physical activity benefits so promotoing physical activity (first) and then… there is also these cognitive benefits as well that are academic benefits as well. We need to be careful about tying in fitness and saying if they do better on fitness tests they will do better academciall. Its a slippery slope and I dont know if we have all the data in yet.

Dr. Aaron Beighle

That is a brilliant bit of work right there! The argument isn’t about fitness at all. It’s about movement. This ties in brilliantly to Dr. Oconnor’s latest post titled Teaching Movement for Understanding. We have to go back to the idea of movement as fun and enjoyable. Everything stems from there. Physical Education teaches and encourages physical activity first and foremost. Are there additional benefits in academic behaviors? Absolutely! That is not something we should hang our hat on though.

With that being said, it is a bargaining chip to be used in a system that undervalues us. If we were building a boat the academic benefits would be a decorative bow on the side somewhere. We make the case that students health is more important than test scores. If we focus on that and don’t let the test score pendulum scare us we will be pointed in the right direction as a profession.

P.S. Don’t allow standardized testing in our profession either!

What can you add to this conversation? Tweet @AaronBeighle @Schleiderjustin @JustenO’connor



EdCamp After Hours

Today I went to EdCamp After Hours at Harrison High School in Nj. Bibiana Prada and Maria Fernandez were the lead organizers of the event. What separates this EdCamp from most others is that Bibiana is bringing EdCamps to urban school districts. The major change is that the EdCamp is held right after school. This allows teachers from urban districts to go right from work to the professional development. The second part of this initiative is that the hosting school provides dinner for the participants. As the great Jarrod Robinson says, “limit or remove the barriers to entry”.

The event was intimate with a little over 50 people attending. What was cool about the attendees is that it ran the gamut from administrators to social workers to teachers. Every facet of the Harrison Township School District was represented. This shows clearly that the staff is working together and supporting each other.

Over 90% of the employees had never been to an EdCamp before. Knowing this some sessions were chosen and placed on the board before the attendees arrived. This took the pressure off of the event and the newbies by having veteran facilitators take on some of the burdens.

I facilitated two of my favorite subjects social justice and movement in the classroom. The social justice session was amazing. It was a true facilitation. In attendance, there were administrators, a college professor, an ESL teacher, an affirmative action officer, and a school counselor. We discussed intersectionality, the difference between sex and gender, and the idea of taking care of the child’s basic needs before being able to teach them content. The session gave me life. The conversation was flowing and the engagement in the room was through the roof. I took away more from the session than anyone else! What a fantastic group of people to converse with.

The second session I facilitated was movement in the classroom. Coming from the #PhysEd and #Healthed world this is near and dear to my heart. I learned about karate math. This looks super cool. If anyone knows more about it hit me up! I pulled out the usual bag of kinesthetic tricks including rock, paper, scissors, least common multiple, the game jump, and four corners. As always I gave a shot out to Mike Kuczala and his Kinesthetic Classroom book.

A cool part of the night was the app smack down. We demonstrated Nearpod, NoRedInk, Seesaw, Plickers, podcasts, Twitter, and more. The attendees were all about it. We gave out swag at the end but unlike other EdCamps, it wasn’t all about the swag.

I have to say that this was one fantastic event. I had a really great conversation with a vice principal, guidance counselor, and principal about the walkout that occurred that day. We went into the pros and cons, what to do with the students that stayed in, and how the police and fire were on patrol to ensure the student safety. The people truly made the evening shine. I have been to bigger events that had no energy and even less engagement. That was not the case tonight. From the little I know about the Harrison School District it seems like a place I would love to send my children to.

Huge shoutout to Shivan and Adriana who made the night so much fun. When the organizers are enjoying themselves it sets up the whole event for success.

If there are any EdCamps near you go to one!


The Metamorphosis of a Teacher

This week’s guest post is penned by none other than THE Jorge Rodriguez. 1.jpgJorge is the captain and creator of the Voxcast, a part of the Physedagogy Team, and a Spark superhero. More importantly, I consider Jorge to be a friend and mentor. He pushes my thinking and is constantly challenging my thought process. I read this and was amazed at how clearly there is a parallel between philosophy and our teaching journeys. I hope this encourages you to reflect as it did me. Enjoy.

Friedrich Nietzsche famously said, “that which does not kill us makes us stronger.” To me, the implication of this statement is we should embrace challenge in our life in order to become better.  We should seek to make ourselves uncomfortable in order to find truth. If the chaos of challenge doesn’t kill us, it will make us stronger individuals; mentally, physically and spiritually. This is a profound idea.  More than what I bargained for when I started learning more about his work. However, as I reflect on my 13 years as a physical education teacher, I think about my journey and it reminds me of the “metamorphosis of man” that Nietzsche talks about in his book, Thus Spoke Zarathustra.

Nietzsche suggests that evolution does not happen by accident, we must aspire to be more than what we are. This metamorphosis has three stages, the spirit to the camel, the camel to the lion and the lion to the child.  I believe that many teachers go through a similar change.

The spirit is the individual whose purpose is simply to get by. This could be the new teacher who struggles to deal with the complexities of the profession and seeks out a comfort zone.  This could also be the seasoned teacher that has found that comfort zone and has lived in it for years. The spirit represents the passive individual that takes little risk and generally tries to stay out of the spotlight. This teacher might do just enough to get by, reluctant to ruffle any feathers because of the fear of discomfort.  If we are to grow out of this stage as teachers, we must have the courage to rise to the challenges of our profession. We must equip ourselves with the power of knowledge by understanding the system we work in and embracing the challenges it offers.

The first transformation is from the spirit to the camel. The camel is a beast of burden. This teacher is happy to take on the weight of responsibility placed upon them by the system.  This teacher embraces the challenge and is willing to work within the confines of the school system. This teacher has a strong sense of duty and is eager to show his/her worth by working hard.  I see this teacher as someone that is married to the standards and grade level outcomes. In a traditional school system, this teacher can be a highly effective teacher. He/she works hard, teaches the content and does not challenge the system.  In many ways, this is highly desirable in a traditional setting.

The second transformation is from a camel to a lion.  This transformation requires self-reflection and questioning of the status quo.  Where the camel is comfortable working within the system, the lion seeks freedom above all things.  This teacher knows the standards well but rejects the idea of being limited by them. This teacher seeks liberation from external influences that are designed to bring value or worth.  This teacher seeks intrinsic motivation for themselves and their students. Teacher appraisal systems and student grades are not enough. Although the lion seeks liberation, the system is all this teacher knows and will tend to revert back to what is known. The challenge for the lion is creating from emptiness.  

The last transformation is from the lion to the child.  The child enters into a new beginning absent of the past.  A traditional school system may not allow for this type of transformation.  The child approaches the world uninterested in external answers or approval.  This teacher would primarily focus on play and the joy of learning for the sake of learning.  Although the child may not be easily attained, it can be something to aspire to.

In contrast, Zarathustra warns us of the last man.  The last man is seeking safety above all and lives to consume rather than create.  Zarathustra says, “One must still have chaos in oneself in order to give birth to a dancing star.”  The last man believes that order is the only way and therefore seeks standardization. In education, this is the unbalanced relationship with standardized testing.  This is the insistence in measuring all students in the same way and measuring success with compliance. This is hierarchical control under the guise of safety, where teachers and students learn not to take risks. This potential lives in all of us.  To counter this, we should live in a way that promotes self transformation through challenge.

Nietzsche suggests that evolution is not guided by accident or time, it is guided by aspiration and a will to become better.  We will not evolve as individuals if we do not aspire to be better. Time alone does not make us wise. Instead, we should aspire to be more.  We should aspire to see the world as a child, new and full of hope.

Response to this blog:

The stage of the spirit reminds me a lot of when I first started teaching and when my children were very young. ‘The spirit is the individual whose purpose is simply to get by.” Sometimes getting by is all we can muster. We battle family concerns, personal issues, economic forces, political winds and a variety of other influential occurrences.

For me, the change from the Spirit to the Camel is learning how the system works.” This teacher is happy to take on the weight of responsibility placed upon them by the system.”  I volunteered for various committees, starting holding pd, and ventured outside of Physical Education.

I turned from the Camel to the Lion once I realized the system was broken. “This transformation requires self-reflection and questioning of the status quo.” Our students were only valued as test scores and school was not enjoyable for them. My classes were run top down. My students were not finding the joy in movement because I was the only one creating the scenarios for them to move.

My last metamorphosis is the one that is occurring for me right now. I am currently moving from the Lion to the Child. “The child approaches the world uninterested in external answers or approval.” I am not looking for approval from anyone outside of my students. My evaluations carry little weight other than job security. The real feedback comes from my students. They are enjoying class more. This has created much better learning situations where everyone’s voice is valued.

I personally feel that SHAPE America is the Last Man in this philosophical identification. “The last man believes that order is the only way and therefore seeks standardization.” Our national organization is moving towards more standards, more testing, and a more nationalistic approach to teaching. It is our job to remind our state and national organizations that you work for us. We need more individual resources that will impact our lessons not more standardization of content. Create units for us that are outside of the traditional North American Eurocentric sports garbage we have been doing for years. Incorporate biking standards, skiiing standards, and swimming standards. No one is under the illusion that our students will master all of the standards that are out there. Create a boatload so we can a la carte them and create a personalized Quality Physical Education program.

The end.

Questions via Jorge Rodriguez:

  1. Nietzsche suggest that we should aspire to become more.  What should education aspire to do?
  2. What role does a HPE teacher have this evolution?
  3. Where do you see yourself as a teacher in the stages of metamorphosis?
  4. What is needed to help you evolve to the next stage?
  5. What would have to change in order to teach full of hope and joy, as a child?

I Know Nothing

I was born into this world unable to do anything on my own. I needed every single act of life beyond my basic bodily functions to be taken care of. I could not feed myself nor protect myself from this world. I knew nothing.

I grew, I played, I went to elementary school then middle school. Still, I knew nothing.

I received bar mitzvah at 13 in the Jewish religion. I then went on to confirmation when I was 15 yet even then I knew nothing.

I graduated high school then college. Nonetheless, I knew nothing.

I got a job, got married, had a child, got a masters degree, had two more children, got another masters degree. Regardless, I knew nothing.

I read books, listen to podcasts, hold professional development for hundreds of people, however, I know nothing.

Change is constant. We are here to visit this world for the briefest of times. I need to make a mark, leave a reminder of who I was and what I stood for, increase my sphere of influence before it is too late. I am not guaranteed another day, hour, minute or second on this planet.

I know something.



NJ AHPERD Convention 2018

This was a whirlwind of a few days. My wife’s uncle died rather suddenly at the age of 76. Death is never far from my thoughts or life as I clearly remind you the reader of this incessantly. The viewing was Friday and the funeral was on Saturday. I then packed up and drove to the convention Sunday just in time to set up the powerpoint and A/V for the NJ AHPERD awards banquet. I was woefully underdressed not throwing any of my “good clothes” (not wrinkled) clothes in the bag.

The awards ceremony was nice. I had the utmost honor in watching Erik Meyer receive his Elementary Teacher of the Year Award as well as Chris Bacarella receiving the Distinguished Leadership Award. I value both of these people because they are genuinely nice people as well as extremely competent in what they do. It always makes my day go better when I engage with either of these fine individuals. Congratulations to you both!

The best part of every conference is meeting the people you have invested time and energy with in person. Sunday night Nick Endlich drove three hours in order to join along for the journey. We had fun catching up with legends like Jo Bailey and Nick Kline. The list of people I follow and engage with on Twitter in attendance is too extensive to list. I saw Judy Lobianco and hugged her with the enthusiasm that only Judy Lobianco can elicit. I had a lively conversation with SHAPE President Fran Cleland about the test pilot of a new national program. Here is the description of their new program:

“The test will measure the attainment of the National Standards for Physical Education which are critical to the healthy development of children and youth, including the knowledge, skills, and confidence to enjoy a lifetime of healthful physical activity. The new assessment will be known as the National Assessment for Health & Physical Education, and will be powered by AIR Assessment’s online testing and reporting platform.” Link

What other state conference has the National SHAPE President and President-Elect and Jo Bailey?! Not so humble brag my conference brings it!

The first session I attended was Lynn Hefele’s session on How to Use Your Noodle. Lynn’s session was wonderful! She had some cool ideas that were so simple you thought to yourself why haven’t I been doing this all along? My favorite games were trying to hit a soccer ball with a pool noodle that was being dribbled or passed. Another game I enjoyed was attempting to disrupt a bean bag from being successfully tossed to a partner by swatting it with a noodle out of the air. I am always amazed by teachers who can show me things that are simple and fantastic. Lynn’s style was engaging and quite humorous. Lynn also writes children’s stories that she incorporates into her class. That is next level.

I split my next sessions going between Jo Bailey and Liz Burkhart. Liz’s ideas on how to teach self-growth and empowerment were cool. The idea of enjoying the journey and not the destination jibes well with both our philosophies. If we do not target the Social and Emotional parts of our students we are missing the boat.

Jo Bailey is a legend. She saved my life. Her presentation was typical Jo Bailey. I came, I learned, I was conquered. There is nothing like seeing a master at her craft. I do not use those words lightly. Her ability to delivery quality activities time after time is second to none. We went on scavenger hunts, put together puzzles, assessed how we felt about our skill level using various equipment, and put in participant choice and voice. Jo keeps you engaged by her enthusiasm and smile. She is one of the best in the profession and kudos to NJ AHPERD for bringing her back again this year.

I was bummed to have missed Doug Hallberg’s session. Nick Endlich has raved about it but we ended up having a PS AHPERD and NJ AHPERD meeting that I was unaware of.

I came back in time to watch Karen Petermann run her session. She had a boatload of activities and uttered a phrase that made me shine with delight. Her phrase was, “A personal IEP with Mrs. P.” That was perhaps the most brilliant thing said in any session I heard all day.

I finished up my day presenting Iterations of Game Play with Nicholas Endlich. I was a little nervous about it because of how many people could possibly be in our session. It turned out I had 18 participants. Have you ever heard the saying it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog? We had only one person who sat the whole session. The participants had a blast! I knew it was gonna be fun when they asked if we could continue to play Nick’s game instead of moving on to the next slide. This was the perfect opportunity to show them what shared power looks like. We could have ignored the comment and gone on instead I recognized that they were here to learn and enjoy themselves. They continued to play and have fun.

Our session showed three different activities and how to use the idea of builds or scaffold our instruction that allowed the students to end up driving the instruction. Hopefully, we impressed upon them the ideas of TGFU, builds, and the importance of creating that positive association with the movement.

I will close with my Grows and Glows of the day:

Glow: Registration and t-shirt booth ran smoothly and efficiently.

Grow: We should not limit access for people to enter the NJ AHPERD Conference. We should never be our own barrier to entry.

Glow: The presenters. Kudos for the QPE champions you bring in.

Glow: My participants. You rocked. If you were a wet blankets my session was doomed. You made my time as a presenter thoroughly enjoyable.

Glow: Ross Chakrian. It was a pleasure to meet you and I appreciate you coming to my session.

Glow: The five dollar food voucher offered!! What a great idea!

Glow: Jacks

Glow: Balloons at the keynote. Guess who was hitting them during the announcements?

Glow: Getting to know my Executive Board better.

Glow: Dillon. Philosophy and all.


Time is Money

Time is always pressing on my mind. The ever-present knowledge that death is right around the corner never quite leaves me. My time, our time, your time, is limited. Time means different things to different people. We want to get paid for our time. How much we demand varies. I work at a liquor store and get paid close to minimum wage. I am the assistant director of a summer camp and I get double that. I organize games and activities for birthday parties at my summer camp and get triple that. I teach and get about five times that. Yet I go to EdCamps, Coffe Edu, and create or participate in multiple online professional developments and get zero times that. This blog you are reading costs me time yet I get monetarily compensated nothing for it. You can hire me to run professional development at your school anywhere in the world and that costs a separate amount of money.

Money in relation to time is arbitrary. I had a conversation with a gentleman who told me he presents for free yet he has a teacher pays teacher account where he charges teachers for his creations. He chooses which time he spends should be compensated for. Make no mistake though, he gets paid for his time. Another friend of mine charges for his presentations yet creates Ebooks, a blog, and runs a program that benefits other teachers professional development without being compensated for his time. He also chooses where his time is worth money. Is either of them wrong? I would argue they are both right. WE get to determine how much our time is worth. If the time is not worth the money we stop doing whatever is sucking up our time.

Time as money varies based on the circumstances. I had a company ask me to present at a conference during a school day. I quoted them a price. The company said it was too high. A woman who had no business being in the conversation made a comment about how much I had quoted to that company. After making sure she understood that this was none of her business I explained how taking off a day to deliver professional development is one less day that I can take off to spend with my son at donuts with dad. It is one less day that I can go to meet the artist with my daughter. Being out negatively effects my students as well. I declined to give them my time because that school time holds a higher value to me. Another aspect of this time-money circumstance is that if the conference was on a weekend I may have presented for free.

How we perceive time varies. I live and die for old man basketball. I have turned down many pleasurable alternatives in order to experience the fun and joy of basketball. I have played for hours without realizing three hours had zipped by. I have also sat through an hour of professional development that felt like days. Remember when we were kids? Five minutes felt like an hour! Time is fluid. Now five minutes feels like 30 seconds!! My grandfather jokingly says everytime he picks up the newspaper it is the Sunday edition.

Our perceptions of time varies. I don’t have the time to value your feelings as much as you do. That is a harsh truth of mine. I need to do what I feel is right. This may be saying something that goes against what you are about. It may hurt you. Then again it may not. I don’t waste large amounts of my time worrying about what others will think or say of my words and actions. With this being said I don’t attempt to harm others. I do not attack people personally nor do I engage in actions that purposefully harm others. I have to operate within my moral framework as well as my limited time framework. They sometimes but heads. This may also be the reason that I don’t have a boatload of friends. (I am somewhat self-aware)

We don’t value time. I am a busy person and I still waste some of my time. This bothers me. Coach Feis and Mr. Beigel were teachers in Parkland Florida. They both gave up their lives protecting children. They had no idea their time was so limited. How would they have valued their time if they knew how limited it was? What would they have changed? We only value time once we realize we have a finite time left. This happens with a cancer diagnosis, a colleague or a close family member dies, or something catastrophic like a school shooting happens. Suddenly time becomes more valuable. We realize how petty our lives were and how we ignored what is really important to us.

What is bizarre is that my school is currently in negotiations. We have been without a new contract for a while. This happens everywhere. The strange part is that if a gunman (aka white male with mental issues) came in we would be expected to put ourselves in their way in order to protect the children. This would severely limit my time on the planet. Suddenly my time becomes very valuable, doesn’t it? How does that factor into negotiations?

This blog is meant to create more questions than answers. I am not attacking anyone who charges for anything. I charge people for my time and feel zero guilt for it. What I do want to happen is for you to question where do you spend your time. How much are you being compensated for it? Compensation is not always money. I understand that and don’t feel that is our motivation for most things. I also believe that money can buy us time in some cases. This is where I value money. Also paying my bills is cool. Spend a little time thinking about where you spend your time and how are you being compensated for it?

Finally, value you your time. While it may be worth nothing to someone else your time is invaluable to you, your family, and your friends. Make use of the time you have. As the great Jarrod Robinson once told me, “I don’t think people really put enough time and attention into harnessing their time as effectively as they could. It is just an afterthought instead of prioritizing what is the most important to them.” I personally don’t want to look back and think I wasted my time. It’s time to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Psychological First Aid 4 Schools (PFA-S)

This blog is based on a real conversation I had with a high school physical education teacher. The details I am recounting may not be exact but the overall story is similar enough for the purpose of this blog. I will be telling the story in the first person as if I was the teacher in this scenario. Let me be clear. This is a real story that happened to a real teacher. We need to learn more about what to do if we are in this position ourselves.

During this blog I am going to give some general advice as to what to do if you are in this situation. This advice is secondary to whatever protocol your school has set up. Some schools have mental health plans and a very detailed system of what to do in these cases. That procedure needs to be followed. I would also like to state that unless you are trained you should not be counseling or giving the student advice if they have experienced trauma. That is best left up to those with professional training.

I hear the all call paging Julia (not her real name). I taught her last year and know she has some hiding spots near the gym where she goes when she needs some time for herself. I start walking to one of them when I find her. She is jittery and in an excited state. I tell her we have to go to the office when she blurts out, “I was molested by my sister’s roomate this weekend and everyone is talking about it.”

I froze. What do I do? What do I say? Luckily for me she just started babbling and everything just came out. I didn’t have time to say anything which is good because I didn’t know what to say or do. I was able to walk Julia to the office after she was initially reluctant to go. I sent a text to my principal that Julia was with me and we were making our way to the office. On the way she told me she had broken a clock in one classroom, slammed a door in another classroom, and did something else destructive in a third classroom. Eventually she had curled up in a ball under a table in the art room.

Julia also showed me her hand that was black and blue from punching the individual who sexually assaulted her. When we got to the office, both the administrator and school police officer were waiting for us to arrive. Julia told me everyone was talking about it and knew about it so I assumed that word traveled quickly and administration was looking for her to get her help.

Immediately, the destruction was brought up before we even had two steps into the room. I quickly realized my administration had absolutely no clue as to what occurred to Julia. Realizing this, I motioned for my principal to step out for a second. Thankfully, the direction of my administrators approach immediately changed as my principal said ‘I need to place a call to Childline’ once I informed her of what Julia had told me. However, I was not a part of the meeting as Julia assured me she was okay being alone when I asked her if she wanted me to stay with her prior to entering the office.

After informing my principal, a counselor was called and an investigation was opened by the police. The next thing I felt was that I was dismissed with no further actions to take, left out of the loop and not there for a student that confided in me. I felt like I had failed my former student in not being there through every step of the way when they were comfortable enough to confide in me.

Most of us have not been trained for a situation like this. I asked a school social worker and she told me about this idea of Psychological First Aid for Schools (PFA-S). Some of you may be thinking that you are teachers and not social workers or psychologists. This is true. PFA-S is NOT psychotherapy, counseling, or debriefing.

PFA-S is most effective immediately following the incident (e.g., from one hour to a couple of weeks after an event). In some circumstances, assuming the safety of students and staff has been ensured, PFA-S can be initiated while an incident is still occurring, such as in sheltered-in-place or lockdown situations. Because it is not psychotherapy, an extended “treatment,” or a stand-alone mental health intervention, any staff member, regardless of whether he/she has had mental health training, can deliver aspects of PFA-S and can contribute to the school recovery by functioning within the PFA framework. link

Here is a chart of the basics of PFA-S:



Let’s refer back to the story about the teacher and Julia. The teacher met most of these objectives naturally. They remained calm in the situation and connected the student to a counselor that could assist them. During the interview of the social worker the idea that we must remain calm during these situations was stressed over and over again. People feed off of the energy of others. If the teacher had become agitated and nervous Julia would have fed off of that. She would not have been calm enough to go to the office.

I have been trained in deescalation. Remaining calm is the biggest pillars of deescalation. The adult needs to be the rock. They must remain calm no matter what is going on around them. This is a difficult thing to do. How many teachers push in harder when students get agitated in the classroom? It becomes a battle of wills and power. Each side escalating the situation until either the student is sent out or they leave in a rage. When teachers lose their zen they lose control of the situation.

One question the teacher had was what were they supposed to do once they escorted the student to the office. The social worker I interviewed gave the advice that they should ask the administrator in charge if they could stay with the student. If they were given permission they could then go ask the student if they wanted the teacher to remain with them while the counselor or police took over the situation. If the administrator denied the request the teacher has no alternative but to leave.

One important step to remember is that everything that happened should be documented! Every school should have incident reports that need to be filled out. This protects the teacher, makes sure the right protocol, and allows the student to get the help they needed. The teacher should make a copy of the report for themselves in case they need to refer back to it in the future.

The hardest part of this scenario is what should the teacher do after they get the student help especially if that student is not in their class. The teacher in this situation has a prep and a lunch that doesn’t match with the students lunch period or study hall and they take the bus to and from school. There is no chance for the teacher to personally follow up with student. The advice I was given by the social worker was for the teacher to contact the parent/guardian if they wanted to see how the child was advancing. I personally would attempt to cross paths with the student and let them know that I appreciated them opening up to me and that I hoped they were getting the help they needed. I would not cross any boundaries and would make sure that any contact was documented to protect everyone.

I would like to state again that I am not a mental health expert. Like anything else I write do the work on your own. Research what your school has in place for situations like this. Ask your school counselors what they recommend. What I do know is that being prepared for a situation like this can only benefit you and your students.