Friday, October 21, 2011

A Few Steps Backwards

With Barbara still out, things have been a bit hectic.  We just started our classrooms “push ins” where we work with an entire class to help students master socialization skills, so currently I’m running three small groups AND facilitating three classroom push in programs.  I wish I could say everything was going well with both Ryan and Mary in group, but we’re experiencing a few setbacks.

Ryan has been acting out in group lately.  He tends to gravitates towards strong willed, outspoken male figures, probably due to the lack of a strong male figure in his household.  In this case, Ryan has started to follow the negative behavior of another group member who is older and much bigger than he is.  Specifically he inappropriately mocks other students within the group and does not follow direction.

I’m trying to make Ryan aware of his behavior through a role model technique. Two people will act out a skit in which one person influences the other to do something which has negative consequences. The goal is for Ryan to notice the poor behavior in the skit and recognize it in his own actions.  Ryan and I also speak after each group session about his behavior. I try to verbally encourage Ryan and praise him for his strengths.  By reinforcing his positive actions he will slowly decrease his negative actions.

As for Mary, after observing her behavior through the group process it seems she may need individual counseling as well.  When she speaks her thoughts are often unclear and off topic.  I have tried calling on her more often and encouraging participation so I can gain a better understanding of her social skills.  The other day, she got up to speak to the entire group but just stood there silently with her hands wrapped around her body and looking defensive.  When I questioned her, she expressed that she wanted to leave and felt discomfort due to the ethnic composition of the group.  To address her concerns, I refocused the group to discuss multiculturalism.  We openly discussed similarities and differences between races and ethnicities.  I wanted Mary to feel more comfortable in her surroundings, but also wanted to address the topic as a group, in case other students had similar feelings.  I’m scheduled to speak with Mary’s mother to discuss Mary’s reaction and behavior to better understand the source of her feelings.

The nature of our work is not linear; there are days of great success and sometimes some bumps in the road.  Ryan was doing so well at the end of last year, but seems to have gone back to some of his poor behaviors.  After working closer with Mary it seems that her social issues are much deeper than I originally anticipated. What’s important is that we’re able to see these behaviors and understand the source and figure out how to help.

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