Day 173 (of 188) Flight Fight Freeze & Data
So….today we had a little dilemma – a student took ‘a step backwards’ and reverted to a mix of his previous toolkit: Flight (running away) with a willingness to Fight (usually scratching) and blending in some Freezing (not talking or even making eye contact).
and the student wasn’t even in trouble….but Fight Flight Freeze never makes sense…
It started with a gymnastics challenge where the student was doing a modified handstand (feet on wall, group challenge to see who could do the task the longest) but stopped so that they could take off a necklace. But by stopping – they were disqualified. In frustration, the first F was: Flight. Left the gym, headed to the ‘home classroom’ and then right out the door.
When we finally stopped the flight strategy, the Fight was on – some clawing to try to get past the adults and to try to deflect from the main reason that “we” wanted to chat about: that it was just a game – and again, that they weren’t in trouble….
But the third F took control – and we were Frozen out. No eye contact. No verbal communication. Just trying to wait us out and hope that we would eventually forget about it or give up on coming to a conclusion – a strategy we suspect has worked in the past…
The “reset” time ended up being a couple of hours (and even after we thought we had things worked out, we had another relapse). And then we enter our data dilemma – I have been asked about our “data” based on the number of self-regulation/mental wellness we have vs the number of suspensions (et al) that we issue….my issue is that with our school goal on Self Regulation and Anxiety….I can’t…don’t send students home when the issue that would traditionally lead to a suspension from school is the exact issue that we have identified to be our key school goal….
Now, I’m good with a ‘suspension from activities’ – such as a flight risk not going on a field trip; or bus behaviour meaning that a class trip on a bus needs an alternative transportation plan. I prefer to connect the consequence to link with the behaviour. The student who rips up a mess of papers and freezes when asked to make things right, gets to clean it up – even if they are ‘absent’ for a couple of days. Fights…well, that restitution is a bit longer to get right – especially if the participants are still mad….time helps.
I struggle with disconnections of punishments: kids who weren’t allowed to come to football practice because of an issue with classwork – with the temptation of course being that perhaps kids who ‘slack off’ during sports activities could do extra cardio work during academic times….. So even though the ‘data’ might not show a lot of traditional consequences, the school goal on self regulation needs to work – and that means ‘being away from school’ is not a common option.
Flight Fight and Freeze continues to be a work-in-progress for (too) many of our learners. But we are getting there….the work continues knowing that often we take two steps forward, and sometimes one back.