The back-to-school season is ramping up in earnest this week with the publication of bus schedules and the advent of tax-free week in Maryland. For teachers, it’s one of the last weeks to take vacation.
Still, nearly 200 Carroll County Public Schools counselors, educators, psychologists and administrators were gathered at the Best Western in Westminster for a professional development day focused on students with some of the toughest challenges, said Supervisor of School Counseling Judy Klinger.
“The teachers that came today, they’re here on their own time,” she said.
Mike Paget, a consultant for students with severe emotional and behavioral problems, led the day-long seminar. Titled “Wired Differently,” it focused on students who act out in the classroom. Paget talked about how schools can help students with a variety of diagnoses stop disrupting others in the classroom and get what they need out of their education.
Many people may start a career in education without realizing how much behavioral issues are a part of the classroom, he noted.
She said Paget’s approach was important because it helps schools teach students good behavior early rather than becoming an atmosphere of constant punishment later.
“Kids will produce [good work] for a teacher they believe cares about them and likes them,” she said.
Part of Paget’s discipline approach is “dignity even for the worst kids,” he said. This not only helps students struggling with behavior, but models for all kids in a classroom that they can expect respect from their teachers.
The concept, unveiled at the last Board of Education work session by new Superintendent Steven Lockard, would be used both internally and externally. Internally, it will help CCPS track and monitor data, and help tie that information the strategic plan.
Melissa Leahy, school psychiatrist and Carroll County PBIS coordinator, said the concept is about school-wide expectations for behavior. When students make missteps, they need to be taught what they’re doing wrong, just as they would be with an academic concept.
“It works best when we all work together,” she said.