Lost At School

Ross W Greene

Why are our kids with behavioural challenges are falling through the cracks and how we can help them. So many students and teachers are being lost due to the way we view challenging students and how we handle them. It is time to change both our thinking and how we work with students.

This book outlines a different approach to supporting students in being successful in school. As it is quite different to what we have experienced in the past, to read the book we require an open mind and a heart to both understand the issues students are coming to school with and a willingness to step out of our comfort zone to try something different. This new approach is non-adversarial, non-punitive, proactive, collaborative and relationship-enhancing. As we start to use this new approach, we find that all students thrive when they are heard and are engaged in solving the problems that affect their lives. As educators, we have an important role in helping students to be successful in life and learn to solve their own problems.

In schools where students have social, emotional, and behavioural challenges, there is often incredible frustration as teachers do not understand and/or are not taught or supported in dealing with students with behavioural challenges in their care. Many schools have systems in place that treat students in a way that leads to greater stress and problems and often do not address the real issues. School policies not only fail in making schools safe or more effective in handling the behaviour of students, but they also actually increase student drop-out and the number of behaviour problems experienced. We see too many students who have lost faith in the adults in their lives and do not believe that they will listen to them and address the real issues they face. The focus on 'education' has caused schools to overlook how to best help students who are needing support to develop the behaviours needed to be able to learn.

The author admits that working with students with social, emotional, and behavioural challenges is messy, time-consuming and often difficult. It requires teamwork, patience, and tenacity as often what needs to be done causes us to question conventional wisdom and practices. The book has three main parts: -


1. Information and examples to understand challenging students.

2. How to implement the CPS model

3. How to work collaboratively towards the common goal of helping struggling students more effectively

To begin with we need to be clear about how kids come to be challenging. When understanding this, we need to ask whether what we do to discipline these students address the issues they are facing both emotionally, socially, behaviorally, and academically. The first thing we need to do is to understand what we think about challenging students. Are they manipulative, attention-seeking, coercive, unmotivated and limit testing? Have these behaviours been caused by passive permissive inconsistent, noncontingent parenting? If we believe this then this will lead to a behaviour plan that is rigid, firm, consistent and contingent on adult-imposed consequences which include rewards and punishment.

In most schools, there are ten to twenty students who require repeated support for their behaviour. If this is the case, what is being done is not working. This is because goal-imposed consequences only help us teach students the right ways to behave and give them the incentive to do the right thing. As we focus on these two areas research has shown that:-


1. Most challenging students already know how to behave.

2. Most challenging students want to behave the right way. They are already motivated to do the right thing. They do not need stickers or consequences; they need something else.

The key premise of the book is that kids with behavioural challenges lack important skills. These skills include regulating emotions, considering outcomes of behaviour and the effect of their behaviour on others, being able to express in words what the matter is etc. (The list is in the book) The struggles the students face is a developmental delay that requires specific support and training so the students can be successful both in school and in life. Is it fair students are punished for not having the skills to handle life's social, emotional, and behavioural challenges? Can we have a different approach to supporting students with behavioural issues? As a school, we need three major shifts: -