A clinical child psychologist who served on the faculty at Harvard Medical School for over 20 years is coming to talk to Sooke School District staff about supporting children with challenging behaviours.
Ross Greene, the author of The Explosive Child and Lost at School, will speak to roughly 1,600 SD62 employees on Sept. 23 at the The Q Centre in Colwood.
Greene will speak to all staff, from bus drivers to custodians to teachers and human resource managers, at a morning session. Some staff will also continue to an afternoon session with Greene at Belmont Secondary School.
“Everyone, whether it’s a parent or someone who works at the school district, comes across kids with challenging behaviours sometimes,” said superintendent Scott Stinson. “It’s an issue that’s coming up across the country. It’s not specific to our school district.”
At the same time, Stinson said schools are noticing that traditional methods of discipline are proving ineffective.
“They’re only moderately effective at stopping the issue at a particular point in time,” he said.
Rather than disciplining perceived acts of wilful defiance, he said Greene believes behaviour challenges are about lack of skill.
“In order to support students we have to give them more skills to manage the demands that schools place on them,” Stinson said. “Greene says that when demands exceed students’ ability to adapt, that’s when behaviours come out.
“I know when the demands that are placed on me are significant, that’s when I begin to get a little frustrated … but I have skills to manage it, so it doesn’t come out as an explosion.”
At The Q Centre, he said Greene will give staff strategies for how to work collaboratively with children to build up their skill sets rather than making assumptions or blaming them.
The Monday sessions will not be the first time Stinson has worked with Greene.
When he was assistant superintendent for the Saanich School District, Stinson had Greene speak to the elementary school teachers and work with them over a period of two years via Skype on case studies.
For the case studies, the school staff, after notifying parents, worked collaboratively with particular students to build up their skill sets and improve challenging behaviours.
“We saw some significant gains for those students who were identified as having some real challenges operating within that social environment,” Stinson said.