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Case Study: Matthew B.

Alexandra Kingston University of New England Motivational Theory and Classroom Management EDU 615 March 5th, 2011

Case Study: Matthew B. Introduction: I would like to introduce you to Matt B. I am not teaching Matthew this year, but I have been working closely with him, his teacher and his parents. The reason I have chosen Matthew to be my case study, is because of some of the advances we have made from the beginning of the year. I also know, we are not where we should be and theres a lot of work to do. Matthew has charisma and his potential is apparent. Matthew has severe behaviour issues. He is not diagnosed with any learning disability or coded for behavior, as of yet. Matthews problems seem to be a carry over from his life at home. He is living with his biological mom and step-father. They are Eastern European and their first language is Romanian. Our case worker for Matt has been able to give us more insight on this relationship, and I will go further in detail in the Effective Strategies section. Academically, Matthew is an A student in his core subject areas. Where he struggles is in Music, Art and Physical Education. This is due to his behavior impeding his learning. Its interesting to look at his report card this term, as the effort for those subjects are all NI (Needs Improvement). Matthew began and continues to be coded ESL. With this English as a Second Language code, resources are available to Matthew, however, he is fluent and high functioning academically. Our concerns are strictly behavioural. He has a difficult time interacting with his peers, he can be aggressive, rude and disrespectful. He acts out in class

and has spent much of his free time in the office. Matthew has missed field trips, guest speakers and class celebrations as consequences. This isnt the answer. Observations: When observing Matthews behavior, we look first to the anecdotal records of his teacher. She keeps a very detailed account of the days events in order to share and report the happenings in class. The first account came my way with a snowball fight on the playground, leading to an intense argument. Matthew told the girl I am going to kill you which lead to him being sent to the office. This brought in him mom for the first time and when I began to be involved in his life at school. After looking into this incident I met with his classroom teacher and went over some of the repeated behaviours in the classroom. Here are 2 anecdotal records straight from his teacher: 1) At morning recess, after the bell rang and the students were lined up to come in, Matt could hear a gr. 2 student in another line up making a funny sound. He asked him twice to stop making the noise and when the boy didnt stop, he grabbed the straps coming off his hat and pulled on him. Matthew was sent to the office, missing the Great Pumpkin play. He remained in the office until 12:50pm. When he returned, we spoke for 5 minutes about his behavior. 2) Matthew said his parents wont sign his agenda if I write things bad in it. He said his stepdad often hides the notes from his mother and waits until she leaves for work in the morning. Then he calls him really bad names and blasts him. He said that he leaves many bruises on his legs. When I asked to see the bruises, he pulled up his pant leg, there were none to be seen. Matt said there was a big bruise on one leg but it was gone now.

Another incident happened when Matthew attended his first field trip of the year in December. He needed constant supervision of the teacher, as no parent could control him in their smaller groups. He is in a large class of students which really impacted the teacher being able to work with any other student. Matthew is now required to have his mother accompany him on all field trips, or he cant attend. Effective Strategies: In order to discuss effective strategies being used, I need to first mention the value of our entire team being involved. The classroom teacher, the parents, administration and District people are all part of the process. We, as a team, have been using several strategies with Matthew, to assist him in his development and help him be successful this school year. I will highlight 4 strategies: The use of a behaviour plan in the classroom; building the home-school connection; allowing Matthew time for developing relationships; and getting District and community agencies involved. The classroom behaviour plan: This has made considerable impact on Matthews behaviour. He has a many things he likes to do in and around the school. Matthew thrives when he is appreciated and praised. The plan is organized so that Matthew receives check marks when he has been behaving in a positive way for intervals of time throughout the day. The day is currently broken into 5 blocks. Two blocks before recess, one after, and two in the afternoon. When Matthew has a full day of check marks, he is able to do something in the school he loves to do. Working closely with our caretaker gives him such a great deal of pride. He follows him around the school, helps him with the

recycling, works alongside him at recess time and is praised for his work.

This allows

Matthew to feel he is contributing and part of the community. He is not always being talked to for something negative. We are looking to make sure we celebrate the positive aspects of his behaviour, giving him the intrinsic reward of feeling good about himself to continue the behaviour. It is a work in progress. I am involved by meeting with Matthew for the last 10 minutes of the day to write a comment as well. These goals will allow him to see the task at hand, for short increments of time, and hopefully he will go for mastery of the task. Building the home-school connection: We have been working closely with the family as a school team. The classroom teacher emails Matts mom on a daily basis, giving her a debrief of the day. The behavior plan mentioned above is shared with the parents each day. We have had several meetings with Matts mother and keep open lines of communication on the phone and through email. After meeting with Matthews mom, we were able to shine some light on some of the reasons behind his behavior, as the meetings with our Districts experts will expand on. When we told his mom some of the things he has said to his classmates, she said that it was like listening to his father. In order for Matthew to attend out of school field trips, his mother must accompany him. We find that her presence helps the classroom teacher more than anything. Matt is in the group with him mom and if need be, she is there to take him home if his behavior gets out of hand. Also, its important for us to have Matt included in all activities. Developing Relationships with Peers: Our counselor has been working with Matthew at certain times in the day to help him build relationships. Matthew is able to connect with a couple classmates at a time to play games with them along with our

counselor. She monitors the interaction and models appropriate behavior of taking turns, using manners and being a good winner/loser. This has been very valuable as others in the class are able to see Matthew in a different way. District Case Worker: We called our District experts to come to our school, work with Matthew, his teacher and his parents. We (Matts teacher and myself) first met with the District case worker and told him about things that have occurred from the beginning of the year until now. He then met with Matthew, observed him in the classroom and shared some of his observations with us. The case worker felt it necessary to work with Matts family and so an appointment was made. His findings were extremely valuable. After meeting the parents, he was able to get a closer look as to why Matt was behaving the way he was. At home, Matthew is ruled with an iron fist. He has very strict rules to follow, including chores, homework and table manners. His father says it builds independence and character. As far as punishment, he is often spanked and his father has a heavy hand. We also found out that social services was involved previously and spent time in the home to investigate over use of this punishment. His mother said the step-father has gotten better, but is still very angry and can get violent at times. The case worker was able to truly connect with the mother and filled me in on the situation. His mother sees Matthew under a considerable amount of stress at home. He behaves well when she or her husband is around, but only under close supervision. He seeks perfection, as it is expected at home from step-dad. His professional opinion is that Matthew doesnt have any control at home, so he seeks it at school. Punishment isnt working, it just suppresses him.

The good news is, help has been provided and is being used. Matthews mom has been attending Self-Esteem seminars on the recommendation of our case worker. This is offered through Calgary Family Services, a government agency. This is a way to help empower Matts mom. Another huge step is that both parents have agreed to attend a FAST program (Family and Schools Together) involving the whole family for 10 consecutive weeks. Each evening starts out with the kids cooking a meal for the parents and then they break out into sessions to help teach the participants how to better communicate with each other. This experience alone is a huge step forward for his family. The program starts mid-March and we are looking forward to hearing about their experience. The theory I think that best fits my case study is the Social Cognitive Theory. We can use these concepts to work with Matt. The concept of self-efficacy is what is so important in Matts case. He needs to believe he is capable of something in order to be successful at it. In this case, he needs to feel safe and in control. Matthew also has a need for competence and strives for excellence. First and foremost, is Matts need for a sense of relatedness and feeling like he belongs. The main focus of creating a school environment is making sure all members of the community feel like they belong. We are working on this with Matthew. That is why the work with our counselor is so valuable. She is giving him time to build relationships with other students in his class and making those connections and giving him that sense of belonging. Matthew also has no control at home, so this can be one of the major ways we can help him. The need for autonomy is Matts need to feel a sense of control or autonomy over their environment. His teacher is beginning to give him more choice with the groups

he works with by organization autonomy support. With using procedural autonomy support, she will allow him to choose materials to use in class. Cognitive autonomy will allow Matthew the ownership of finding solutions to his own problems. He will be able to feel a sense of control in his own learning. This theory fits so nicely to all of the issues we are faced with concerning Matt. With this said, in order to meet Matthews needs, a differentiated classroom is of the essence. In this kind of classroom, students are given choice and allowed to use their own gifts and talents to excel and shine in their unique ways. Matthew needs that opportunity. His teacher is working on meeting the needs of the varied students in her class. I do not think the goal-orientation theory strategies would make an impact on Matt, as much as the others. Academically, he is very bright and he doesnt tend to compare himself with his classmates.

Conclusions: Matthew is a boy with potential. His behavior has made significant improvements, however he is still denying his involvement at times. His behavior is learned and he has made adaptations to work in his environment. Looking into his situation has allowed me to look at the Social Cognitive Theory more closely. Since I began this case study, I have been open to all of the professional development around me regarding Cognitive research. By coincidence, I was fortunate enough to attend a full day workshop on Adaptive schools, where Albert Banduras research was referenced. It is amazing how everything seems to connect at the right time and place. This research has truly set me on a new path of

learning and inquiry. Matt is one student, unique and individual. His life experience is different to everyone elses in the class. I am seeing positive changes in his classroom behavior, his lunchroom behavior and his entire school assembly time. We are making progress, together as a team. Teachers, administrators, parents and District all working together for the common goal of making sure we do what we can to support Matthew. With guidance, support and some genuine care, he will succeed now and in his future educational career.