Jarrod Green is a preschool teacher in Philadelphia who posts on a blog called “If I Ran the Circus“. Yesterday he linked to the story I wrote about Lincoln High School in Walla Walla, WA, and noted that changing its policy from merely punishing bad behavior to determining what the behavior means, helping a teen understand the connection, working with the teen to find healthier ways to cope with stress and build resilience, and still adding consequences for the behavior “sounds remarkably like standard practice in high-quality preschools.”
His whole post is definitely worth reading. Here’s a vignette he provided that will melt your heart.
I remember a hitting incident in my 3′s classroom once where the hitter seemed more upset about it than the hit-ee. Instead of saying “You may not hit” or “Why did you do that,” I did some quick thinking about what I knew about the child. I knelt down and said quietly, “Are you thinking about your mom because she’s out of town?” The child nodded and fell into my arms. “I know,” I said, “It’s hard when she goes away. Let’s make sure your friend is okay, and then we’ll sit together and write your mom a letter.” (Note that, for a teacher to be successful at this strategy, it helps to know what’s going on at home.)
The important thing to note is that, under some circumstances and on some days (and for some severely traumatized people, under most circumstances on most days), teenagers are just very large versions of three-year-olds. So are adults.