To quote legendary 90’s hip hop singer Monica…
“It’s just one of them days, when I wanna be all alone
It’s just one of them days, when I gotta be all alone
It’s just one of them days, don’t take it personal.”
We have them, and our students have them. So what do we do?
Here at OA we are extremely lucky to have a staffed Recovery Room. We take great pains to explain to the kids the purpose of Recovery, and how it is different from ISS.
- Recovery can be assigned by the teacher or requested by the student. This occurs when tempers are flaring, stress levels are escalating, and/or learning is disrupted. Basically, when redirection, explanations, and consequences are not going to do any good. When we are in what we refer to as “brain stem mode” we are in fight or flight mode. Nothing is going to be accomplished.
- Once in Recovery, a student is allowed the time he/she needs to get out of “brain stem mode”. To do this, the student must be left alone with his or her thoughts. A major difference between this and ISS is that no work should be sent with the student. Also, there should be little to no engagement with the adult in the room.
- When the student feels confident that he or she is ready to rejoin the class, a request is made to the teacher via walkie-talkie. If the teacher feels that it is not a good time to rejoin, the student may be asked to stay in Recovery until the appropriate time is reached.
- When the student does rejoin the class, it is without comment or reprimand. The teacher will later engage the student in a quick “repair”, which consists of discussing the circumstances that led to Recovery, and what led to the student successfully completing the Recovery process.
Here is an example of how Mr. Hopkins and I use Recovery in our room.
I could see the look in Jillie Sue’s eyes as she stepped off of the bus. She was ready to roll. As she entered the cafeteria she proceeded to trip Bobby Joe, steal a biscuit off of Bernie’s tray, and tell me that Hillary Clinton was a “lesbo”.
Me: “You seem a little out of sorts today, Jillie Sue. What’s up?” (seeking first to understand.)
Jillie Sue: “Yup, I sure am!
Me: “Well, what’s going on?”
Jillie Sue: “Nothing. I just don’t feel like being here.”
Me. “I understand.” (empathy first) “However, you are here. You know that only students who are ready to learn can come to my class. Perhaps you’d be more comfortable in Recovery for a little bit?”
Jillie Sue: “Maybe…”
Me: “Well, you be sure to come back just as soon as you’re ready. I’ve got some special stuff planned for the day, and I don’t want you to miss it!” (Make sure you tell them to come back soon.)
Now, in this instance, Jillie Sue decided she’d rather see what was happening in class that day than spending time in Recovery, but about once a week, we do have students that utilize it. The trick is to make sure they know they are welcome back and that it won’t be thrown back in their faces when they return.
So what if Recovery doesn’t do the trick? Well, our students know that Recovery could eventually turn into ISS if it is not used properly and doesn’t seem to be effective. That’s a whole other bridge to cross, and another post to come!
If your school doesn’t have room for a designated Recovery space, you can make one in your classroom by blocking off a corner with a rolling screen or any other type of barrier. You can also use another teacher’s room for the space. Ask your colleagues for suggestions on how to create this space for your hall – it is worth it!