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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Validating: A Teacher Intervention for Students Whose Disruptive Behavior Is Related to the Negative Thoughts and Feelings that Dwell Within Them

When mentoring our pre-service and in-service teachers we need to describe and model both research-based and clinically tested best practices. Accordingly, our mentees should know how to validate a student when his or her disruptive behavior is related to the internal conflicts that reside within.

The teacher validates the student: The teacher lets the student know through his verbal and nonverbal language that he appreciates, supports, and understands the feeling, experience, or story that the student is sharing. Once again, the purpose of validating is to provide the student with the necessary support so that he or she can regain his/her composure in order to focus on learning. See the example of validating below.

Example of Validating a Student

Setting: Suppose a student of yours, Eric, a fifth grader, shares this message with you:

Student: "My parents just told me that we'll be moving to a new city in June. I don't know where I'll be living or going to school. My parents tell me it'll all work out, and not to worry. But I am worried."

Teacher validating the student: "Eric I really appreciate what you've just told me. I could see in your body language that something was bothering you. It sounds like you're really upset, and confused by what's happening in your family."

Student: "You're right, Ms._______________, I am upset and confused. Have you ever been through this? What did you do? What should I do?"

Teacher validating the student: "I haven't been through exactly what you're experiencing, but when I was about your age my parents decided to move to a new neighborhood, and that event had a profound effect upon me ..."

Examples of Invalidating or Discounting a Student

The teacher discounts the student: "Eric, I know exactly how you feel because I went through the same thing when I was your age. You see ..."

The teacher discounts the student: "Eric, listen to me. It'll all work out. Don't worry about it. Your parents know what they're doing. They know what is best for you. and for the whole family."

Note: We all interpret events differently; therefore, no one can know exactly how another person feels about a situation. One can listen. and offer support in a time of need. Validating provides a student with a listening and supporting ear when the need arises.

On the next post we will discuss the Anger Ladder lesson as a vehicle to empower students to control their negative thoughts and feelings.

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