Mt. Blue board discusses student behavior problems

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FARMINGTON — Mt. Blue Regional School District directors heard behavioral specialist Meaghan Swan explain Tuesday night some of the difficulties in working with students who exhibit “challenging behaviors.”

Some of those students may have learning disabilities, but others may have behavioral problems that can keep a classroom on edge. Swan works with children one-on-one and with a student’s teacher and family to show how behaviors can change. She attended a conference recently and heard documentation that nationally, disruptive student behavior is increasing and teachers have few coping tools at their disposal.

“We work to decrease bullying behaviors and improve academic performance, and I hope to do more staff development in the future,” she said. “Behaviors have meaning, and we’re challenged to understand and deal with them.”

Superintendent Michael Cormier said he has seen many responses to student conflicts, and there is no one simple answer to the problem.

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“People go too far one way, so they go too far the other way, and then maybe they’ll settle in the middle,” Cormier said. “Think about current economic times. The schools are a picture of what’s happening in our communities.”

Curriculum coordinator Leanne Condon gave an overview of response-to-intervention assistance and other overlapping behavior modification techniques.

Students classified as tier 1 receive customized learning curriculum and are screened on a regularly to identify those still-struggling learners who need more support.

Tier 2 students who are not making adequate progress in the core curriculum are provided with increasingly intensive instruction.

Tier 3 students receive individualized, intensive interventions that target the students’ skill deficits, which are meant to prevent more severe problems.

Directors agreed that technology offers students alternative methods of learning and proving academic progress, but older age groups may have problems because they have not been raised with computers as basic tools.

“Our kids are miles ahead of us,” Farmington director Claire Andrews said. “My daughter can put presentations together without even thinking about it.”

Andrews said her concern was that each student should have equal access to technology and support.

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