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The topic of the week is Brandon Krueger on Behaviour in the US.
This week we welcomed Brandon Krueger onto the podcast. Brandon is based in Colorado and is Pivotal Education’s Principal Trainer in the US.
Brandon has been a teacher, a vice-principal, a principal and then he worked in the central office, supporting school leaders. He also worked at University level in initial teacher education programmes and educational leadership programmes.
How is behaviour management approached in US schools?
States in the US have educations codes or laws which apply to student discipline. These are often applied as a ‘progressive discipline policy’ in a particular school district.
A low-level incident such as a student shouting at another in the hallway, would not necessarily result in anything more than a conversation with a near-by adult. The student might be sent for some conflict resolution work to the school office from a school administrator or counsellor. Parents would usually get a phone call to inform them of the incident, the fact that it is being resolved by the school and asking them to talk to the child. If the incident is part of an emerging pattern, they might be asked to check into the office every morning or a contract set up for a specific period of time.
BrandonAt the other end of the scale – e.g. act of violence or possession of an illegal substance or a weapon – the incident would be immediately referred to school administration for investigation, processing and action. Parents are always contacted, to pick up the student and meet with the administrator. The codes require that this kind of incident is met with an initial suspension of 5 days which can then be extended and, if necessary, lead to an expulsion. There would be a disciplinary panel who rule on the outcome which could be the transfer of the pupil to an independent school or to a school in another area.
The site principal has a certain amount of flexibility in making the initial determination, however, when this is reviewed by a central office or department of student services, it can be overruled.
Every school that Brandon has spoken to has the goal of reducing exclusions as far as possible by promoting community inclusion.
What is the role of security staff or police in US schools?
In secondary education, most schools will have ‘campus supervisors’ or ‘school safety officers’ who are trained mediators and make sure children get to classes on time. Where there are more intensive needs, agreements are made by schools with local police departments who provide a ‘school resource officer’ who is stationed on or near the school campus or assigned to a small region. They are there to be more pro-active where intervention is needed. The situation varies a lot but law enforcement is available in some circumstances where legal aspects are needing to be addressed. School resource officers are armed.
Is behaviour management part of initial teacher training course in the US?
Brandon has seen a lot of the teacher training programmes in the US and as far as he is aware there is no specific behaviour management training course in any of them. Each subject might have content about how to engage learners in that subject but nothing specific is offered to teacher trainees other than learning ‘on the job’ from a ‘master teacher’ in the classroom while on placement.
How is special education organised in the US?
There is a Federal act which governs special education. There is an assessment system in order to qualify for support. Learners with ‘mild to moderate’ needs would normally be in a standard class setting with support, whereas ‘moderate to severe’ needs are catered for generally in smaller classes with more adult support. There is a formal ‘Individual Education Plan’ for all who have been assessed as having special needs.
Those with specific, severe behaviour needs have a behaviour support plan to go along with the IEP. There is also an ’emotional disturbance’ criteria which would require teachers to receive specific, additional training.
In a general setting, teachers would receive advice from a specialist team as well as counselling from the administration team and in-service training.
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