Tips For Working With Students
(Part 2 of 6)

Here's the next set of tips and suggestions for working with students who come in with some specific issues and patterns. Again, please use your own judgment and follow your school and district policies and the relevant laws.

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How do I work with a student who uses humor and clowning to seek attention?


~ Acknowledge and enjoy the student’s sense of humor in your 1:1 conversation.

~ Ask low risk questions, 0-10, stress level, etc.

~ Teach the concept of defenses and how humor can be used as a defense.

~ Talk about appropriate times and places for humor, and when it’s a problem.

~ Get a sense of the student’s level of self-awareness and social skills. Sometimes they don’t know how they come across.

~ Teach the student how to identify and express a range of feelings, and let him/her know you are always willing to listen and be present.

~ Invite the student to join a support group, and in that context, set gentle boundaries and help redirect him/her toward less disruptive and more on-task behaviors.

~ Invite the student to come back and check in with you as needed, and initiate your own periodic check-ins with the student if you feel it's warranted.


How do I work with a student who says he/she doesn’t care about anything?


~ Ask low risk 0-10 questions about the student’s stress level, and what contributes to that stress.

~ Ask how long the student has been feeling that way. Look for an answer that starts with “Ever since...” to find out if there’s a specific loss, change, turning point, etc.

~ Work through grief and loss issues if that’s relevant.

~ Ask questions to get a sense of whether there’s something the student is afraid of or overwhelmed by. Sometimes students will do their best to shut down all feelings when they’re afraid or overwhelmed.

~ Although you cannot diagnose depression, ask the student about disturbed sleep patterns, undereating or overeating, difficulty focusing, lack of emotion or too much emotion. All of these are symptoms of depression that may prompt a phone call home and a referral to an outside source.

~ Don’t be afraid to ask if a student is or has been considering suicide or self-harm. Get a 0-10 for urge to die or for self-harm, and a 0-10 for likelihood. Call home if you have any suicide or self-harm concerns.

~ Ask if there’s anything the student can think of that you could do to help.

~ Invite the student to check in with you on a regular basis, and/or to join a support group. If either seems unlikely, let the student know you’ll be checking in on him/her from time to time.

Go to the next page, "Tips For Working With Students -- Part 3."

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