Friday, October 13, 2017

Levels of Anger

Since I've begun this year as our behavior interventionist, I have seen many of the students on my case load struggle to self regulate. This can then lead to them shutting down, becoming verbally and/or physically aggressive, threatening others, and engaging in power struggles. As a classroom teacher it can be incredibly hard when having to deal with these behaviors in the moment. Research shows that when kids are stressed, their amygdala is activated causing a flight, fight, or freeze response. Once this happens, it can take 30-90 minutes for them to calm back down for higher order thinking.

Yep. 30-90 minutes.  For some teachers, that can be an ENTIRE subject... or ENTIRE class period! (Interested in more brain research?? Google Eric Jensen. Seriously. Do it.)

As a preventative this year, I began reading up on the Incredible 5 Point Scale. This is something that can be used on a wide range of situations, but I chose to look at it through the lens of anger. I explained that different things can 'trigger' our anger. As this happens, we can move through different levels before we completely lose control of ourselves. Noticing these different levels can help regulate ourselves so that we calm down and not get in trouble. As we went through the different levels, we built the anchor chart below together.

Before the lesson I made sure to have emotions written on sentence strips, pictures drawn for visuals, colored papers written with the five levels, and a large thermometer drawn to give a concrete example of how anger can build up like temperature. This way we could piece together our chart and I didn't have to use time writing everything.

To apply the levels, I used Inside Out and the scene from the dinner table. I had students focus on the daughter, and had then identify as they saw her escalating through different levels of anger. We paid attention to how she LOOKED, what/how she SAID things, and inferred how she might FEEL. Here's the LINK to the video.

Students also have their own personal graphic organizer.

I did also have them circle triggers of their own, and checkmark ones that REALLY got them angry. I left room in the trigger box to add more that they may come up with on their own.

I found that during the mini lesson I focused more on an overview of the levels rather than students filling out their graphic organizer. That came on an individualized basis as situations arose where the student and teacher could analyze what was going on, what level the student was on, and how looked or felt. 

Let's say the situation was that the student began to kick chairs and yell loudly that he was going to throw one. After the student was out of the classroom and in a place to talk, the teacher would ask what happened. They would then ask what level they were on? In this case, that most likely is a 4 or 5. The teacher and student discuss how that LOOKS, SOUNDS, and FEELS. The teacher should also ask what else happened that led to the point of them throwing chairs. What were the triggers? What level was the student on at that point? Again the teacher asks how that LOOKS, SOUNDS, and FEELS. At first, some levels may be skipped until they are experienced. The second column that says count to 10 has ways the student can calm down at each level. I highly encourage students who are at a level 4 or 5 to take a break. A level 5 I explain how that can mean moving to a different room with an adult to be out of the situation. Here's an example of one filled out for a student. 

As students this year have begun to experience anger, this has been SUCH a helpful resource. Already this year I have been able to figure out what is causing students to escalate to a level 5, and how to help them BEFORE they get that far. Just recently I had a student tell me that another student was bothering them, which caused them to be at a level 3. This then caused them to poke at the teachers board, which led to a teacher redirect, which then led to them escalating to level 5. I was able to discuss with them how as SOON as they are bothered, they could STOP, count to 10, and then go sit away in safe zone BEFORE they got to a level 5.

I love being able to bring students in to look at the bulletin board and use it as a springboard for problem solving conversations. It's also been so helpful having students have their own individualized ones as well to continuously go back to and to identify strategies to help them calm down. Students are beginning to recognize their levels and verbalize what they need to do to calm themselves. While it is still a long process, this has been a great visual for self assessment and self regulation.

UPDATE: I'm adding in this as well.
This I created for students to carry. It takes the anger process a step further and helps students to know that once they've calmed down, they can solve the problem (the trigger) and/or receive consequences for it. Just another twist and a way to organize things!