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Step Six: Demonstrate that YOU can do it.

9 December, 2015 - 14:53
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All of the previous steps will prove to be mostly futile talk unless this step is required. As with any new learning, demonstration of the new learning is essential both in assessing the new learning and for retention of the new learning. The student must show to the principal and/or teacher and to him/herself that they have the ability to demonstrate the new choice of action. As with any new skill, it requires practice. To become a habit or choice in the future, it must be accompanied with a new and positive result. This can only come from demonstration and experience with the new behavior.

Choosing when and how to demonstrate the new choice of behavior varies according to circumstances, severity of the problem, and the student's ability. This step requires the expertise and experience of the principal and/or teacher knowledgeable of the student's ability and situation. In cases of assault, for example, the principal would most likely choose a role-playing scenario where no one would be put in a harmful situation. In cases of not paying attention or not bringing needed materials to class, the principal and/or teacher would most likely want to see the new behavior demonstrated in the actual classroom over a certain period of time.

Although the ways for students to demonstrate new behaviors might be endless, the principal and/or teacher would be wise to allow the student to practice prior to demonstration in front of peers in the class. We educators can either set them up or set them up for success. Small successful steps are usually the best way. It is one thing to say you will behave differently in the future and another thing to actually do it. Many principals and teachers are surprised at the number of students that do not have the ability to demonstrate a new choice in behavior. Students see others able to do things and can describe the action, but that does not mean they possess the ability to do it. Like every step so far, teaching is needed.

In some cases, it is wise to let the student observe others. An example is to ask the student to look for other students talking, laughing, and having a good time just like they were trying to. After observing that they were having a good time and did not get into trouble, the lesson is that most other students knew when to quit. This skill comes from observing the mood, tone, or habits of teachers or other students. Obviously, this is an essential social skill and one that requires teaching and learning. Following observation and discussion, the student can then role-play to see if they can judge when to quit. Typically, follow up with the student is needed to ensure they master this knowledge and skill in the classroom (and hopefully outside of the school).

In this step, the student does the majority of the work. The principal or teacher must be cognizant that this step is not easy for the student. Learning is not always easy or immediate. As mentioned earlier, this step was added to the basic problem solving steps because we found that many students did not possess the knowledge or skill to display new appropriate behaviors.

The demonstration of new learning is crucial to changing the beliefs and attitudes of students in need. It requires teaching, not the hope that a punishment is all that is needed. The time and effort shown in teaching a new social skill is why principals and teachers are thanked a week or so later for their part in helping the student.