A sanity kit for the teachers of Dare Devils
Motto: "No fear!"
- are high sensation-seekers,
- love a challenge, thrills, and excitement,
- are spontaneous, high-impact adrenaline junkies,
- often have limps, bandages, or plaster casts due to scrapes, cuts, and bruises, and
- are not usually gibed with the art of forward planning.
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Helping Dare Devils to change
Congratulations! You have a high-voltage, switched-on, determined, energy-to-burn type of kid in your class who will have a go at most things. You may also need to re-think your ideas about class excursions.
And welcome to the world of time trials! Whereas competitive kids can be engaged through challenges, Dare Devils need time trials. Dare Devils can really enjoy school: it can give them the challenges, the peer connections, and the physical activity they thrive on. The bigger issue is whether you will enjoy teaching them, as this can be either a recipe for exhaustion or a delight.
The most powerful behavior-management strategy I've ever seen for these kids is an audible timer. Say, "You've got five minutes to ask ten people about these fifteen different things ..." - and the Dare Devils will rocket out of their seats and into action.
If you can rid your classroom of clocks, it's even more powerful. Without a clock in a classroom, a five-minute time trial can last 20 minutes.
Dare Devils need structure and procedures, but be prepared for them to be tested, as this can become the challenge. Have just a few key rules, otherwise you'll end up in a morass of battle and confusion.
When Dare Devils get a rush of adrenaline, you have a choice: calm them down or navigate their energy. Calming down is not something Dare Devils are naturally skilled at. Nevertheless, it's a skill they can use over and over again. Have quiet areas in your classroom for this purpose.
Navigating the energy of Dare Devils is achieved through trial and error. Look for positive rewards and areas of responsibility. Use computer games for times when Dare Devils have an adrenaline rush. Use physical games on the playground, body math (i.e., using clapping or song or some other rhythm to remember tables and sums by touching various parts of the body), and theater sports with literacy.
The golden rule for teaching Dare Devils is: when they are disruptive, move them. Don't wait for them to calm themselves down; they won't.
Dare Devils can be slow to develop an internal world: they are not naturally inclined to reflect on the meaning of things. For this reason, they can become quite upset or unhappy and have no idea why. Or they can be astounded that adults see them as high risk-takers who they wouldn't consider taking on an excursion. Dare Devils may also have very little inkling of how friends or peers feel about things.
During calm moments, helping Dare Devils to consider events from others' perspectives or wondering with them what other people might feel is valuable. Asking them to describe and rate their own feelings also helps. Teaching Dare Devils planning and sequencing skills advantages them greatly. Take an area of their interest and develop a project that requires them to devise and implement a series of sequential steps: this will develop skills that will remain with them for life.
Dare Devils (as well as Competitors) particularly benefit when you include a resilience and emotional intelligence program in your class lessons. Try to teach Dare Devils the "Stop, Think, Do" method, which is based on traffic lights:
- Red: Stop what you are doing.
- Yellow: Think about some alternatives.
- Green: Select a behavior and do it.