Albemarle Co. Teachers Addressing How to Better Help Students
ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - As school budgets shrink, teachers are taking on even more responsibilities in the classroom.
Years ago, students who showed defiance or refused to do work in class were often kicked out of the classroom, said Kristen Roorbach, an educational psychologist. Now, Roorbach says teachers and other educators are re-thinking why a kid misbehaves, and looking at what they can do to help.
Hundreds of educators took part in a workshop at Monticello High School Friday, November 1. The event gave them a chance to learn more about a student's social and emotional needs, and how it may affect their performance.
Roorbach said certain student behaviors such as defiance, refusing to do work, or acting out in class can be a result of dealing with trauma.
“If kids have experienced trauma or have some mental-health needs that are not being addressed in the classroom, it comes out in the classroom,” Roorbach. “The teachers are being asked to deal with that, really in ways that go above and beyond in their capacity or capabilities.”
Reduced funding to programs including Therapeutic Day Treatment services is leaving teachers responsible for handling these behaviors, Roorbach says, which can sometimes cross over into mental health services. Many times, she says, these instructors have little, to no training on dealing with these issues.
“I think we've seen in our class a lot of times they don't know why they're feeling the way they do, so it's helping them kind of cope together,” said Kadlin Leake, Woodbrook Elementary School.
Some teachers say they have seen schools as a whole shift to focus on student's social and emotional needs. They say before they can even do the job of teaching, they first have to make sure those basic needs are met.
“When kids don't understand and we just look at the behavior, we often miss a chance a good teaching moment. We could help them grow and not really shut down,” Monticello High School teacher Marcel Burrough.
During Friday's workshop, Roorbach talked with teachers about how they can build relationships with these students, which she says may help problems they're facing and creates an opportunity to learn.
“There's a level of access to kids that you have in the classroom level that is a daily and minute-by-minute interaction, which can actually build an incredible sense of worth. That's where I see the role of the teacher as,” Roorbach said.