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Planned Ignoring - I Hate Mrs. Smith

Updated: Sep 24, 2023

Planned ignoring is an amazing strategy that works well with many students. "Kayla" had difficulty regulating when she would be given unpreferred tasks, like school work. At times, she would disrupt the classroom to the point of removal to cool down. We would come to my office and Kayla would yell, "I hate Mrs. Smith. I hate her. I hate her." I would calmly sit in my chair and tell Kayla that I wanted to hear what she had to say, but that she wasn't ready to tell me. I then went on to show her what ready looked like. I would say, "Kayla, when you're ready, you will be sitting in this chair with your hands on your lap. I will see that your breathing is controlled and you are able to speak without yelling. I really want to hear what you have to say, so let me know when you are ready."

I would then turn around and check email and I would hear in a teary voice, "Mrs. LaFleur I hate her and I want to tell you about it." I would turn around and kindly share, "Kayla I want to hear what you have to say when you're ready. Do you understand what ready looks like?" If she did she would tell me yes and if not, we would review and model what ready looked like. I would hear her start to take some deep breaths (that was a coping tool she used a lot) and I knew she was getting close. She would finally get to the point of calmly saying, "Mrs. LaFleur, I'm ready." I would tell her that I could she she was ready and share how proud I was for her to calm her breathing and body so we could problem solve. She would tell me that she hated Mrs. Smith (although she loved her just that morning!) because the work was too hard or too much. We would walk through her strategies when things felt overwhelming, go back to her classroom and try it out. Sometimes it was me who sat with her and other times our social worker or sped provider.

Sometimes this process would take five minutes and sometimes 20 minutes, but the routine of understanding that I want to hear her, listen to her and have a problem-solving discussion is an excellent way to build that trusting relationship.

Lessons Learned:

  • All behavior is communication.

  • When people aren't regulated, what they say can't be taken personally.

  • Our AWE either helps them soar, or adds weight to their shackles.

  • When a student feels heard, trust comes next. With trust, anything is possible.

  • Plan to Ignore.

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