Quality Time In The RTC Classroom
By Vicki Creekmore, RTP Trainer and RTC Teacher
I have just finished my 7th year as an RTC teacher. I am currently at the Lincoln Academy for Boys in the Toledo Public School system. Ed Ford has always stressed how important quality time is for all students, but especially those who are constantly in trouble, whom we call our "frequent fliers*." These students come to school with a total lack of confidence in their own ability to succeed. Unfortunately, most schools look at punishment as a way of "getting" them to behave. Through using RTP, I've learned that the way to helping these students build this badly needed confidence is through teaching them to think and not through punishment. This demands someone like a reading teacher, but in this case it is teaching social skills or how to get along with their peers and teachers. But there is more to this process.
These are the students who believe there is no one in life that really cares or has confidence in their ability to succeed. I decided to incorporate quality time into the process by using quality time. I began to look for volunteers to spend quality time with some of the school's frequent fliers within the RTC. I am very fortunate to have found ten great people to come to Lincoln Academy on a weekly basis to work with these students.
They provide quality time for the students by establishing relationships, which are essential to building their self worth and their belief in their ability to succeed, so that when there are problems or something goes wrong, they can learn of ways to think of how to turn things around. Often after three or four weeks of this quality time, I've seen students begin to change, I've seen smiles appear, they become happy and well-adjusted students, and all from this simple process of finding them a friend. What a great way to help these young students succeed.
Students are scheduled to meet with the RTC volunteers on a regular basis in coordination with their regular classroom teachers. Whether they happen to be in RTC or in their regular classrooms, the RTC volunteers meet with them at the assigned times and spend quality time with the students in RTC. Some might argue that the students will disrupt to get the quality time, but that is not the case. In fact they try harder to be successful in school because they are beginning to feel good about themselves. They become less disruptive and come to RTC fewer times. They do visit, but on their own time. This year I was very fortunate to have ten volunteers on a weekly basis.
One of the volunteers is Miss Roz. She comes to RTC two mornings a week. While there she plays chess with the students and helps them find their interests. They write poetry, practice handwriting skills, work on art skills, play math games or read together. This was her 7th year of volunteering in RTC.
Another volunteer is Beth, a retired teacher from the Toledo Public Schools. She comes to RTC two afternoons a week. She sits and talks with the boys who are in RTC at the time. She guides them with their plans, helps them with their school work, takes walks with them giving them time to talk to her and build a trusting relationship with her. All through the week the boys ask if she is coming on that particular day anxious to see her. She also mentored a first grader and makes sure she sees a former student of hers, who smiles every time he sees her. This was her 7th year of volunteering in RTC.
A third volunteer who came to school was a retired physician .He met with a fifth grader on a weekly basis. They would sit down together and work on Rob's schoolwork. The doctor even took him to the zoo and the local car show during the year.
My fourth volunteer was a gentleman who had retired from owning his own business. He started meeting with a third grader who had been making some really poor choices. After working with Ken, he asked to work with another student so I arranged for him to work with Tom who was also in the third grade and way behind in his necessary skills. He came weekly and stayed and worked with each boy giving each of them an hour. When our school went to a baseball game he was right there with them to enjoy it. This summer he is meeting with each boy to continue what he had begun in school.
Rich was lucky to have the fifth volunteer. He was a retired university professor. They spent a great deal of their time talking and working on math because that was Rich's favorite subject.
Davis was a fifth grader who had John come and share quality time with him. When the school held our monthly All Pro Dad's breakfast , John was right there with David sharing in that special time set aside each month.
Michael met with James, a second grader, beginning in the spring. James had anger issues. It was through their quality time that I began to see James learn to control his anger and not let his anger control him. They shared phone numbers so James could call him if he needed to talk before their next visit.
Mr. Wills came weekly to work with a 6th grader who was a Frequent Flier. Some days David was in RTC at the time of his visit. Mr. Wills would take him over to the library and discuss his current plan with him. Many times they spent talking about previous plans David had written. They also exchanged phone numbers. One day, David was having a successful day and he came into RTC wanting to call Mr. Wills to let him know that. David continued to choose RTC, but there began to be longer periods of time between his bad choices. I started seeing him get better control of his emotions and become less explosive. I feel this was a direct result of the relationship he had established with Mr. Wills.
I have seen so many wonderful things happen because of this individual quality time spent with students! For the first time these boys have experienced someone in their life that really took an interest. Knowing that someone cared about them helped each boy build the necessary confidence each needed to resolve their problems without disturbing, while respecting the rights of everyone, both teachers and other children.
The classroom teachers at the academy are wonderful! They understand the need for this quality time and were always willing to allow their student to leave the room share in this time.
Not only do the students see the RTC as a place where they go when they disrupt, but now they also see RTC as a place they spend time with someone else who cares and is willing to make the effort to help them be successful.
* The name "frequent flier" was given to these constantly in trouble students by Darleen Martin, the first RTC teacher and the one who helped me develop the process when it first began.