There are a lot of students that come from privileged families that place in an inordinate amount of pressure on them to be “something”. This means expecting straight A’s even if another grade really reflects what they understand. It means feeling as though they aren’t ever capable of being good enough. It means anxiety.
Sometimes students carry around passes that give them a 5-minute break when their anxiety gets out of control. As teachers, we can sometimes help. We can work with them over a course of a year and help them so they rarely use them. However, that is usually more because of the number of students in the class than anything we could really do. There are always new tools that are created with the goal to help students that have ADD, ADHD, Anxiety or any other situation manage classroom learning and expectations. Recently, it’s been the spinner or the fidget cube.
When I see such a tool, the only conversation I have with them is a quiet one that asks them to use it as the tool was designed to be used. However, if I see it being passed around or thrown (yes I have students that will do those thing), I will have to ask that it be put away.
I have some have this be the result of such behavior. They were asked to put it away until they could use it responsibly. Usually, they just need to realize they needed the tool more than they needed to play.
As a teacher, I could ask that students have parent permission to use such a tool. Yes, there are teachers out there saying that’s in order for the tool to be used, parents must come in and explain to the teacher why it needs to be there. However, I really feel that as teachers we don’t always need a form or file or parent input to do what’s best for our students. If a teacher finds the kids aren’t using any tool correctly, there should be a conversation with that student first. Students are smarter than we give them credit for (at any age).
I also think that as teachers, we sometimes forget that it really isn’t OUR ROOM. We go to school and say that we agree with our professors when we learn about setting up our classroom as a place of refuge for our students. We even talk as teachers, in meetings, that we recognize our students often have lives at home such that our room is the only place they will feel positive reinforcement in their lives. So, if it’s supposed to be a place of safety and learning for those kids, when it’s OUR ROOM, can we really say that is always the case. I say, if its really that big of an issue in your classroom, “Let the kids take ownership of the room. Let them decide what should be done when someone takes something intended to be used for good and changes it’s use jeopardizing someone else’s ability to learn effectively.