Students at a Twin Cities middle school with Emotional Behavioral Disabilities (EBD) working to improve their community through work of Public Achievement.
They are radically changing the idea of special education and what students with labels are truly capable of...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Student Reflections on how Public Achievement has helped them...

"I had trouble in school and I am in Public Achievement.  Just because kids are in trouble at school doesn’t mean they are bad.  Public Achievement can help kids use their brains without somebody judging them all the time." - T, 5th grade student
"Public Achievement has taught me it is important to be nice to people.   Words hurt people and PA showed me how to help people being bullied. Kids in special programs should do PA because they will realize that they can make a change.  That way we can reduce bullying." -Faith, 8th grade student

Bully Bosses... The work continues..

The first poster the students created to address bully bystander education at their school.

The Bully Bosses have decided to focus on the role of the bystander in bullying. They have researched interventions and learned that this has been the most effective intervention when it comes to decreasing bullying. They have also created their first PSA for the school broadcast to introduce their group to the rest of the school. Outside of the classroom, they have created a billboard and have a place for suggestions from their other peers at the middle school.
Billboard outside the classroom

Friday, December 16, 2011

Mini Celebration Day

As a way to help continue to build relationships within the PA teams and with the coaches- we are holding a mini celebration today on the groups progress so far! Above is a picture of 2 students working together to finish a poster that is a part of their presentation... More updates after they present!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The work continues...

The students working on a powerpoint presentation of their progress.

On Friday, December 16, the students will be presenting to fellow classmates about their topics, goals and what they have learned so far this year.  We have had a new student join the group this week, another 8th grader and the only girl in the group. She excelled at organizing and leading the group and so far the group has been very accepting of her.
Today the students were discussing what they want to share about their work so far.  They talked about obvious things such as their team name: The Bully Bosses, their slogan: just stoppin' it and their goal: to help reduce bullying at their school. 
They also decided they wanted to share what they are learning about how to work together and give respect to each other.  As our newest member pointed out, "it's important to show that we are learning to be nice and work together so people don't think we are hypocrites. Also, if we can do, anybody can do it!"

They continue to amaze me in these moments.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A word FROM one of our students...

Introducing Anthony to the blog...

Since we started doing public achievement this year we have had our ups and downs such as some of us, including me, disagree but we eventually come to an agreement. Since we started PA we have gone a long way. Last year we worked on homelessness but now we are working on bullying and we think bullying important because of the suicides and the shootings at schools. This year we haven’t done much but we will do some things we are planning to do. Some of our plans are going to try to talk to other school principals and we are going to try putting anti-bullying posters in our school and videos. We might start a facebook group also anti-bullying and a hotline for kids to ask questions.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The perspective of the paraprofessional...

As a part of the special education program we are blessed to have 2 paraprofessionals, or educational assistants, who work with our students.  Below is a note from one of the paras: Ms. Steph

As a para working with my PA class, I have noticed a lot of change already.  This is my 2nd year our class is doing PA.  This year the group I’m working with picked the issue of Bullying.
Being the 2nd year for most of the students they jumped right in and had a crazy amount of ideas and ambition to tackle the topic of bullying.  Some have already faced road blocks.  How do you advocate to STOP BULLYING if they are the bully themselves?
But in every group they have their strengths and weaknesses.  This group of students has passion, amazing ideas, and creativity.  They are good listeners and public speakers.  Sometimes they don’t reach their goals and they can have difficulty settling down and getting on the same page. There are many interruptions as they try to agree on topics and ideas.
But when it comes down to it, they work as a group and it becomes like a family and they each have their group.
Each day can be different, but it’s amazing to watch these students come together with a common goal to stop bullying.  They have brainstormed tons of idea to help stop bullying in their school- posters, PSA’s, after school program, a hotline number, district-wide anti-bullying campaign and the list goes on…
Now they need to figure out the steps to accomplish their goal.  Stay tuned to see their progress this year.

A word ABOUT our students....

I mentioned in my original post that I would include some further information about the students working in our PA teams. Our students qualify for special education services in the state of Minnesota under the disability category of Emotional Behavioral Disabilities (EBD).  The definition of the educational disability of EBD in the state of MN reads as follows:

"Emotional or behavioral disorders" means an established pattern of one or more of the following emotional or behavioral responses:
A. withdrawal or anxiety, depression, problems with mood, or feelings of self-worth;
B. disordered thought processes with unusual behavior patterns and atypical communication styles; or
C. aggression, hyperactivity, or impulsivity.
Our program is a federal setting III which means that out students are with us, and away from the general educational setting, for at least 60% of their day. Many of them are with us for their entire school day because they have not been successful in other, more traditional, school settings.  School has not been a place of success for our students.  Students in programs similar to these are traditionally left out of opportunities such as PA and are tucked away as much as possible in school buildings.  There has been an “out of sight, out of mind” approach for many years.  This may partially explain the high burn-out rate for special education teachers… but that is for another post!
We have begun to see student’s perspectives and the perspective of another adults change in regards to our students through PA.  One student told me last year, “people think we can’t do anything because we are in this special program… but we can, we can do more.”