My work with teachers began as an outgrowth of my work with children and families around problems that youngsters were experiencing in the classroom. As a member of a team of experts employed in a public school setting whose jobs is were to evaluate children with learning disabilities, my role evolved from evaluating the family situation as it may have contributed to the problems to becoming the liaison professional who worked with teachers and administrative officials to help them set up programs that could implement our recommendations. The other members of the team were a psychologist, speech and reading therapists and a nurse teacher and pediatrician. The recommendations could vary from working with the teacher’s understanding of the child’s emotional and/or academic problems to their understanding of how to deal with the family issues, which in many cases was found to be the primary source of the problem.
As I moved into private practice, I continued to work with children and their families although on a solo-basis. My evaluation of the problems that were brought into sessions often resulted in several obstacles that prevented the child from learning satisfactorily as well teachers from performing their role functions. I would then make arrangements for me, the child, the family and the whole group of teachers and administrative staff that had responsibility for the child’s education to meet in order to discuss and bring remedies to bear in order to rectify and remedy the problem-situation. There might be as many as fifteen people involved in the conference with each having their own interpretation of the problem based on their experience.
My role consisted of the role of a facilitator that would bring all of the comments and suggestions … both of the problem as well as the recommendations … into focus resulting in a ‘game plan’ that would resolve the problems and bring about solutions. The students had the same rights as all of the adults to give his/her version of the problem during the conference and, in the end, a promise was elicited from them to live up to their part of the solution as was expected of all of the adults in the room. I would say that this approach of bringing everyone together was successful at least 90% of the time. The most exemplary outcome was that the youngster, who usually had been showing a great resistance to change and conformance to the expectations of the school, became quite inspired to perform once they could see that the adults in their lives must make their concessions as well.
Once I entered private practice, my role continued to expand upon the requests of both teachers and administrators requesting workshops and seminars to learn to deal with the problems that they were having in their classrooms. Interestingly, these requests did not just come from the school district in which I had been employed but from several others who had heard of my work and who chose to involve me with their staffs as well.
The programs are designed to help the students directly but are also aimed at helping the teacher to better cope with and manage their classroom situations. Only teachers and administrative staff members take part in the programs. They could use many of the recommendations for their own betterment as well as teach them to their students in order for them to function more effectively as well.
Some of the topics and purposes of the seminars/workshops are as follows:
- Anger Management teaches both teacher and students techniques of understanding anger and how to re-direct it to a positive end result;
- Dealing with Belligerent Behavior helps teachers and administrators to effectively manage this type of behavior in the classroom as well as on school grounds as well as how to deal with bullying situations;
- Case Study Workshopsentails the participants bringing case studies of their experiences with problem situations to the group for discussion and resolution by their colleagues while I facilitate the process.
- Developing Effective Parent-Teacher Relationships helps teachers form more of an involvement vs. an authoritative approach to helping families cooperate in the educational process since it has been found that over 75% of the problems experienced by children have a strong basis within the family situation;
- Developing Reasonable Expectations deals with helping teachers and students learn a preventive approach of having reasonable expectations so that that many issues involving undue expectations can be prevented;
- Reducing Anxiety to Facilitate Learning is aimed at teaching techniques that help alleviate anxiety which was found to be a major obstacle in the learning process;
- Problem-Solving Techniques are included helping teachers and administrative staff learn step-by-step methods of resolving issues instead of using haphazard approaches which usually made situations worse;
- Learning About Stress Management Techniques helps teachers to look for the warning signs of stress in order to prevent any kind of breakdown in the learning process. These techniques are valuable for both teacher and student who can then be instructed within the classroom situation;
- Examining the Components of Healthy, Happy Relationships is vital to the understanding of students, 95% of whom would be entering into relationships which were prone to failure in their adult lives because of the high incidence of divorce, etc.;
- Dealing with Fears is a very real factor in many of students’ inability to learn because fear of making mistakes or being ‘proven wrong’ prevents them from getting the most from their educational experience;
- The Role of Perfection is a very important facet of learning since when students and teachers adopt a perfectionistic attitude, the disappointments and failures amount their giving up in their efforts;
- Building Self-Confidence is based on performance which, if it is positive in nature, will automatically result in the incentive to take reasonable risks with future learning;
- The Art of Effective Communication teaches the major elements necessary in order to communicate with accuracy so that there is little left for interpretation;
- The Value of Using Relaxation Techniques to enhance the learning process is taught to Staff members in a manner so that they can teach and use them in actual classroom situations.
(27 August 2014)
Both as a consultant and author, Charles Bonasera’s story-telling have motivated people to change patterns and resolve problems in their lives. All of his books contain valuable, practical lessons that people can easily apply to bettering and managing their lifestyles. He has also written a myriad of articles which can be found on his website at www.charlesmbonasera.com.