Assisting Pinaymootang’s Assistants

On December 5, Gertrude Sanderson, MFNERC Special Education Specialist conducted a workshop with Educational Assistants from Pinaymootang School of the Pinaymootang First Nation. The workshop focused on the Behavioral Intervention Plan.

Gertrude (standing) answering questions from the Educational Assistants.
The Plan is designed to prevent problem behavior in students, while teaching them alternate, acceptable behaviors. Gertrude introduced the workshop by giving an overview of the Plan in plain language. She then went on to dialogue with the participants as to why their students may be experiencing behavior problems. Some of the answers brought forward were anger issues stemming from low self-confidence, difficult home life situations, abuse, or being bullied at school, as well as problems with alcohol and drugs.

Gertrude shared her own insights as well as personal and professional experiences. She set the tone for the workshop so that participants had the opportunity to speak openly and comfortably. One of the educational assistants shared a story about a student who was in an angry state. It turned out that the student had had his recess taken away, and that just compounded and layered the anger the child was dealing with. Gertrude stressed that taking recess away was not a good solution, “In this case the child needed recess. He needed that change of environment and physical outlet.”

The rest of the workshop focused on proactive intervention and strategies that can be put in place to stop a crisis before it happens; as well as reactive intervention and strategies that can be used if and when a child’s behavior needs correcting. “Sometimes it can be as simple as giving the child a short walk outside,” explained Gertrude. “Have a list of low stress alternatives and activities…punishment doesn’t work, especially since sometimes there may be a mental health issue such as FASD involved.”

Gertrude also stressed some coping tips such as stay calm, pick your battles, don’t take it personally and involve you school support team. And “always, always give positive reinforcement to a child when he/she corrects his/her own behavior.” Her belief in the importance of educational assistants was obvious from start to finish, and it was a very engaging and informative time for all participants.

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