The first day of the program was moderately hectic because were only just beginning to set up our daily routine and kids were getting used to the point reinforcement/punishment system. We were also getting a feel for what each child actually functioned like throughout the day and how they interacted with the structure of our activities. As we learned about each student individually and in the context of the group, we also had to keep in mind that this was only the first day and the way they may present initially could be completely different from what to expect from their behavior throughout the course of the program.
The most difficult thing to get used to was giving CALM expectations for every period. CALM is an acronym that stands for communication, assigned task, location, and movement. The CALM expectations that we give are standards within each category formed to clearly lay out what students need to do to succeed for the period. They are meant to ease the positive reinforcement we give because there are clear expectations outlined through which they can be praised on, and they are entirely aware of what they need to do to succeed. It is also easier to give differential attention to those following the CALM expectations to get everyone back on track when there are clear expectations outlined; for example, if a student was rolling around on the rug, I could praise other students for sitting with still bodies and accounting for each other’s personal space on the rug. CALM expectations were supposed to be given at every transition within each period (for example, transitions to set up the lesson, beginning the skill drill, or working independently). Initially, these remembering to give these CALM expectations felt both robotic and overwhelming.
Naturally, the second day felt more routine. I found myself remembering to conduct point checks at the end of every period, but I still felt weird making assessments about what the kids needs were and how to best support their ADHD/anxiety/behavioral disorders throughout the day. It felt like I was troubleshooting how to interact with specific students, and I was hyper aware of things that would potentially trigger a response. This hesitation hindered my practice because it was like I was tiptoeing around my own students.
By the middle of the week and throughout the end of the week, though, I felt much more comfortable both calling out negative behavior and instructing with positive opposites to help correct this behavior sans negative/punitive language. During our daily staff meetings that recap the day, crisis situations, logistics with how smoothly the day ran, our strengths and weaknesses throughout the day, and any behavioral modifications for specific students, I found myself being able to pinpoint how situations with students could have improved and what I could have done better as an instructor accounting for all of their behavioral disorders.