How to Implement a Student At-Risk Program
As a teacher one must be able to cater to the needs of all the students in the classroom; one must also take into consideration the problems that students may face. Not all students are the same, and some students are considered at-risk because of their behavior and the situations in which they live. These at risk students do not always receive the attention they need in order to learn and become mature responsible adults. In order to meet the needs of at-risk students, alternative programs must be designed and implemented that can identify students that need help, fulfill the needs of these students, optimize the resources of the community, and take into consideration the impact on the community, district, and students.
This program will serve students of the ages of 10 through 19 who are "high risk" case, and have violent or suicidal problems (Chinn & Gollnick, 2006, p. 320). Violence in schools is a very serious issue that needs to be handled in order for the learning environment to be fully optimized. The media is constantly covering issues of student violence, and this should make this problem blatantly obvious to everyone as an issue of much concern. In the United States every year an estimated "2 million adolescents in the United States attempt suicide", and "2000 young people commit suicide"; this is a very alarming statistic that proves that a need for attention to this situation is in order (Chinn & Gollnick, 2006, p. 324). It is important that this program encompass the ages 10 through 19 because this age group has the highest tendencies for suicide and violence. Violent and suicidal students are a risk to them selves and others, and they need to be given the help they need in order to improve themselves and their situations.
In order to identify violent and suicidal students many things must be taken into consideration, but the behavior of the student is a very important factor. In order to determine if a student is violent there are some "early warning signs" that can be acknowledged; a candidate for this program may exhibit "uncontrolled anger", "expression of violence in writings and drawings", "social withdrawal", and "excessive feelings of isolation and being alone" (Nash, 2001, p.7). Violent students may also show a lack of interest in school and poor grades, but it is important to note that a student who shows only one of these signs is not necessarily violent. Other signals that may help determine which students are violent are "serious threats of violence", "patterns of impulsive and chronic hitting, intimidating, and bullying behavior", "history of discipline problems", "past history of violent and aggressive behavior", "intolerance for differences and prejudicial attitudes", and affiliation with gangs" (Nash, 2001, p.8). There are many signs that may help determine students that are suicidal, and these signs are "suddenly deteriorating academic performance", "self-mutilation", "unhealthy peer relationships", "volatile mood swings", "dangerous or uncharacteristic risk-taking", and "depression" (Teaher's guide to recognizing suicide, 2006, pp. 3). It is very important to be aware of these signs in order to determine what students are in need of this program.
This program will address the needs of the students in many ways that will help lead these students on a productive path of education. This program will not only focus on academics, but it will also focus on helping to improve the self-esteem of students. This program will include community service options and the ability to earn college credits through work study programs. It will also offer hands on art and science programs where students can exhibit their natural talents. Counseling services and discussion classes can also be offered so that students can learn that they are not the only one feeling the way they feel, and they can learn to get past their problems. With these programs students will have something positive to focus their energy on, and they will learn how rewarding their efforts can be. Violence and suicide occur because of the lack of self-esteem that a student has, and this program will make sure to help the students realize their full potential.
Many additional resources of the community can be utilized for this program. Students can do volunteer work in local parks and recreational areas where they can earn community service. Local libraries can also be a helpful resource to this program by providing students with a place to help research and explore the different art and science programs they choose to become involved in, students can also do volunteer work at the library, and hold discussion groups. Students can also hold fundraisers to help proved funds for their activities, and the local community can help support these activities. The community can also provide the praise these students need when they hold art exhibits or plays that they have constructed. The community is a very important part of the program because the community must realize that these students need help, and the community can be a positive influence in the lives of these students as well as this program.
This program holds many potential positive impacts on the district, students, and community. The district can use this program as a starting point for implementing other programs in the area, and it can learn from the positive affects of this program. All of the students will benefit from this program; the non-violent students will not have to worry about violence in their schools, and violent and suicidal students will be given opportunities that will help them become less violent and suicidal. The community will benefit as a whole because the students who are being treated will grow up to be better people. The community violence will decrease, and students who are in need of help in these areas will have a place to go. The community will also be given the opportunity to applaud the students who have improved because of this program through the art and science projects the students put on and the community services they provide. This program is beneficial to everyone in many ways.
In order to implement this program there are many steps that must be taken. A location must be chosen, and an estimated number of students in attendance must be determined. Classes can be chosen to be provided at a private location or during after school hours at a local school. Teachers participating in this program should trained "to use active listening skills and provide empathy, to utilize assertive and non-judgmental communication techniques that allow clear limits to be set, to acquire the skills to be able to intervene safely with violent acting out students", and "be able to debrief and problem-solve in the aftermath of a violent episode" (Sova, 2003, pp.2). Art and science program specifications should be determined as well as means of funding these programs. A network of community service programs should be established in order to implement this program, and parents should be spoken to in consideration of these projects. There are multiple tasks that must be completed in order to realize this program, but the positive impact it can have on the students, the community, and all people completely outweigh the efforts needed to bring these ideas to fruition.
Violence and suicide is a huge problem in schools, and programs need to be created that help serve these students and solve these problems. Students must be properly identified by behavior patterns, and their needs must be identified and met through self-esteem building practices and positive reinforcement. The district, students, and community will all benefit from this programs, and they can all work together to make this programs work. If this program is implemented the future generations will be better people as a whole, and their children will have also learned from this program from the student's own positive experience.
Chinn, P. & Gollnick, D. (2006). Multicultural education in a pluralistic society
(N/A, 2006, May). Teacher's guide to recognizing suicide. Retrieved February 13, 2008, from Recognizing and Responding to the Warning Signs of Suicide: http://www.promoteprevent.org/Publications/center-briefs/Teacher_Guide_recognizing_suicide.pdf
Sova, G. (2003). New directions in discipline: violent students. Retrieved February 17, 2008, from New Directions: http://www.newdirectionsindiscipline.com/violent.htm
Nash, J. (2001, August). Warning signs of potentially violent students. Retrieved February 17, 2008, from Potentially Violent Students: http://www.madison.k12.al.us/pupilservices/PotentiallyViolentStudents.PDF