Lost at School: Why Our Kids with Behavioral Challenges are Falling Through the Cracks and How We Can Help Them [NOOK Book]


From a distinguished clinician, pioneer in working with behaviorally challenging kids, and author of the acclaimed The Explosive Child comes a groundbreaking approach for understanding and helping these kids and transforming school discipline.

Frequent visits to the principal's office. Detentions. Suspensions. Expulsions. These are the established tools of school discipline for kids who don't abide by school rules, have a hard time getting ...
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Lost at School: Why Our Kids with Behavioral Challenges are Falling Through the Cracks and How We Can Help Them

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From a distinguished clinician, pioneer in working with behaviorally challenging kids, and author of the acclaimed The Explosive Child comes a groundbreaking approach for understanding and helping these kids and transforming school discipline.

Frequent visits to the principal's office. Detentions. Suspensions. Expulsions. These are the established tools of school discipline for kids who don't abide by school rules, have a hard time getting along with other kids, don't seem to respect authority, don't seem interested in learning, and are disrupting the learning of their classmates. But there's a big problem with these strategies: They are ineffective for most of the students to whom they are applied.

It's time for a change in course.

Here, Dr. Ross W. Greene presents an enlightened, clear-cut, and practical alternative. Relying on research from the neurosciences, Dr. Greene offers a new conceptual framework for understanding the difficulties of kids with behavioral challenges and explains why traditional discipline isn't effective at addressing these difficulties. Emphasizing the revolutionarily simple and positive notion that kids do well if they can, he persuasively argues that kids with behavioral challenges are not attention-seeking, manipulative, limit-testing, coercive, or unmotivated, but that they lack the skills to behave adaptively. And when adults recognize the true factors underlying difficult behavior and teach kids the skills in increments they can handle, the results are astounding: The kids overcome their obstacles; the frustration of teachers, parents, and classmates diminishes; and the well-being and learning of all students are enhanced.

In Lost at School, Dr. Greene describes how his road-tested, evidence-based approach -- called Collaborative Problem Solving -- can help challenging kids at school.

His lively, compelling narrative includes:

• tools to identify the triggers and lagging skills underlying challenging behavior.

• explicit guidance on how to radically improve interactions with challenging kids -- along with many examples showing how it's done.

• dialogues, Q&A's, and the story, which runs through the book, of one child and his teachers, parents, and school.

• practical guidance for successful planning and collaboration among teachers, parents, administrations, and kids.

Backed by years of experience and research, and written with a powerful sense of hope and achievable change, Lost at School gives teachers and parents the realistic strategies and information to impact the classroom experience of every challenging kid.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Psychiatrist and Harvard professor Greene follows up The Explosive Child with an in-depth approach to aid parents and teachers to work together with behaviorally challenging students. Greene's philosophy is driven by the recognition that "kids who haven't responded to natural consequences don't need more consequences, they need adults who are knowledgeable about how challenging kids come to be challenging." Greene's "Plan B" system, which is fully and clearly explained in the course of the book, emphasizes identifying challenging behaviors-acting out, hitting, swearing, poor performance in class-and then working with students to find actual, practical ways to avoid them. Helpfully, Greene uses a fictional school for examples, devoting several pages to illustrative anecdotes in each chapter, greatly increasing the material's accessibility. Greene's technique is not fail-proof, principally because it requires the good will and hard work of all participants; a section on implementing Plan B in the face of real disagreement or apathy would have been helpful. However, Plan B has all the qualities of accessibility, logic and compassion to make it a solid strategy for parents and educators.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
From the Publisher
"No one in America has thought more deeply about the problems of disruptive children in school than Ross Greene. In his brilliant new book, he goes inside the minds of children and school personnel to explain why old-fashioned school discipline and Zero Tolerance policies have failed. Then he offers original and tested new strategies for working with the most behaviorally challenging children. Every teacher and administrator who has ever felt that traditional discipline isn't working should read Lost in School." — Dr. Michael Thompson, school consultant, co-author, Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys and author, Best Friends/Worst Enemies: Understanding the Social World of Children

"We cannot ignore difficult student behaviors any longer. Dr. Greene's book is a timely contribution to the literature on how schools must support ALL students, and his approach fits well with Response to Intervention (RTI)." — Rachel Brown-Chidsey, Ph.D., NCSP Associate Professor, School Psychology Program, University of Southern Maine, coauthor, Response to Intervention: Principles and Strategies for Effective Practice

"In his new and dynamic book Dr. Ross Greene presents an innovative and field-tested approach to understanding and guiding troubled students. He encourages and challenges the reader to recognize that the child HAS a problem as opposed to the widely-held view that the child IS a problem. Dr. Greene gives a voice to a group of children who are often misunderstood and miseducated. He provides invaluable information and insights that will enable you to give challenging kids the care that they need and deserve. Those kids — and the adults who care for them — are in Dr. Greene's debt." — Richard D. Lavoie, M.A., M.Ed., author, It's So Much Work To Be Your Friend: Helping the Child with Learning Disabilities Find Social Success and The Motivation Breakthrough: 6 Secrets to Turning On the Tuned-out Kid

"Dr. Greene removes all doubt: Even with challenging kids, rewards and punitive 'consequences' can (and should) be replaced with collaborative problem-solving. Lost at School is a detailed and immensely practical guide whose approach makes much more sense than behavior management plans and other tactics of control. It's hard to imagine any educators, counselors, or parents who wouldn't benefit from reading this book. And their kids will benefit even more." — Alfie Kohn, author of Beyond Discipline and Punished by Rewards

"A positive and practical approach for teachers who want to work to redemptively with kids whose classroom behavior is an impediment to academic and social success." — Carol Ann Tomlinson, Ed.D., Curry School of Education, University of Virginia

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416583677
  • Publisher: Scribner
  • Publication date: 10/21/2008
  • Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 85,583
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Dr. Ross W. Greene is associate clinical professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and the author of both Lost at School and The Explosive Child. He is also the founder of a non-profit organization called Lives in the Balance (LivesintheBalance.org), through which he disseminates the model of care described in his books, Collaborative Problem Solving. Dr. Greene’s research has been funded by the US Department of Education, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the Stanley Medical Research Institute, and the Maine Juvenile Justice Advisory Group.
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Read an Excerpt

Lost at School
Why Our Kids with Behavioral Challenges are Falling Through the Cracks and How We Can Help Them

By Ross W Greene
Copyright © 2008

Ross W Greene
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9781416572268


The wasted human potential is tragic. In so many schools, kids with social, emotional, and behavioral challenges are still poorly understood and treated in a way that is completely at odds with what is now known about how they came to be challenging in the first place. The frustration and desperation felt by teachers and parents is palpable. Many teachers continue to experience enormous stress related to classroom behavior problems and from dealing with parents, and do not receive the support they need to help their challenging students. Half of teachers leave the profession within their first four years, and kids with behavioral challenges and their parents are cited as one of the major reasons. Parents know there's trouble at school, know they're being blamed, feel their kids are being misunderstood and mistreated, but feel powerless to make things better and are discouraged and put off by their interactions with school personnel.

School discipline is broken. Not surprisingly, tightening the vise grip hasn't worked. A task force of the American Psychological Association has recently concluded that zero-tolerance policies, which were intended to reduce violence and behavior problems in our schools, have instead achieved the opposite effect. A review of tenyears of research found that these policies have not only failed to make schools safe or more effective in handling student behavior, but have actually increased behavior problems and dropout rates. Yet public elementary and secondary schools in the United States continue to dole out a whopping 110,000 expulsions and 3 million suspensions each year, along with countless tens of millions of detentions.

Behind the statistics, behind each expulsion, suspension, and detention, are human beings -- kids, teachers, parents -- doing the best they can with the tools they have. Dramatic changes are needed to help them. And my experience suggests that these changes won't be as painful and difficult as many fear. We cannot keep doing things the way we always have and continue losing kids on a scale that is truly astounding. This book is about doing things a different way.

I interact with hundreds of challenging kids every year. These kids would like nothing better than to be able to handle the social, emotional, and behavioral challenges being placed on them at school and in life, but they can't seem to pull it off. Many have been getting into trouble for so long that they've lost faith that any adult will ever know how to help them.

I work with hundreds of teachers every year, too. The vast majority care deeply about kids and devote massive amounts of time and energy to the kids they teach. But most readily acknowledge that understanding and helping challenging kids wasn't a major part of their education, and that they could use some serious help with some of these students and their parents. And most are so caught up in the daily demands of teaching and all the new initiatives imposed on them that they simply don't have time to reflect on how to better help the challenging kids in their classrooms.

I also work with hundreds of parents of challenging kids every year. Most are eager to work with school personnel in addressing their kids' challenges in an effective and compassionate way, but they aren't exactly sure how to make it happen.

Ten years ago I published a book called The Explosive Child that was primarily geared toward parents. Since then, the model I described in The Explosive Child -- called Collaborative Problem Solving (CPS) -- has been implemented not only in thousands of households but also in dozens of inpatient psychiatric units, residential facilities, systems of juvenile detention, and general and special education schools. It's become clear that a book delineating how the CPS model is applied in schools is sorely needed.

Now you know why I wrote this book and for whom I wrote it. So let's talk a little about the how.

Helping kids with social, emotional, and behavioral challenges is not a mechanical exercise. Kids aren't robots, adults aren't robots, and helping them work together isn't robotic. The work is hard, messy, uncomfortable, and requires teamwork, patience, and tenacity, especially as the work also involves questioning conventional wisdom and practices. This book contains lots of material and examples to help you better understand challenging kids, how to implement the CPS model, and how to work collaboratively toward the common goal of helping these kids more effectively.

But there's also a running story about some challenging kids, their teachers, their parents, and the leaders of their school...and their messy, uncomfortable, collective attempts to make things better. The running story helps accomplish several goals. First, it moves the book rapidly from ideas to pragmatic reality. Second, it helps bring to life the challenges, pressures, stressors, doubts, obstacles, and anxieties of each constituency. Third, it provides readers with the actual words to use under various conditions. So often people say, "I understand the CPS model, but I need to know what it looks and sounds like in action!" or "I need to get a feel for the language of Collaborative Problem Solving." And they ask, "Is it truly realistic to think that an entire school could do this?" Toward this end, the story is abundant with real-life examples and dialogue.

All of the characters are based on educators, parents, and kids I've known and worked with, the actual challenges they tried to overcome, and how they did it. Some characters are composites, and names and details have been changed to protect identities. I could have presented the characters in the best possible light, but then they wouldn't have been very authentic. So the principal in the story isn't every principal, she's just the principal of the school in this story. Same deal for the kids, parents, teachers, and other characters. They aren't stereotypes, nor are they intended to be representative...they're just the characters I chose to help me demonstrate the difficulties and complexities inherent in transforming the disciplinary culture in a classroom and school.

I'm also not very specific about the type of school being depicted. It's clearly a public school, and a lot of the action takes place in the sixth grade, but I've been intentionally vague about its precise grade representation and the ethnicity and socioeconomic status of its population. While these details sometimes matter at the fringes, they don't have a dramatic impact on outcomes when people are using the CPS model. Although there are many females exhibiting challenging behavior at school, for ease of exposition I refer to challenging kids in this book primarily in the male gender. While the book is about kids with social, emotional, and behavioral challenges, I use the terms kids with behavioral challenges and (though I try to be sensitive to people-first phraseology) challenging kids to encompass all three domains. Also, the work of other authors is referred to at various points throughout the text; these references are contained in a separate section at the end of this book.

This book is not about academics. There are plenty of initiatives in the field of education to make sure kids get what they need academically. This book is about the kids those initiatives inexplicably left behind.

This book does not bash or blame educators. Nor, for that matter, does it bash or blame challenging kids or their parents. It's about the need to make dramatic changes in a system that isn't working for teachers, parents, or challenging kids, and how to go about making those changes. Three massive shifts are required: (1) a dramatic improvement in understanding the factors that set the stage for challenging behavior in kids; (2) creating mechanisms for helping these kids that are predominantly proactive instead of reactive; and (3) creating processes so people can work on problems collaboratively.

Different people will take different things from this book. For some, the fact that challenging behavior can be traced back to lagging cognitive skills will be quite novel. For others, the limitations of consequences could be an eye-opener. For still others, the specific ingredients of Collaborative Problem Solving, and how these ingredients differ from (and are often more productive than) other ways of talking with and caring about challenging kids, will be enlightening. And for still others -- perhaps those who have become a bit jaded or cynical -- this book may offer a fresh perspective and new hope.

As always, to get the most out of what you're about to read, the primary prerequisites are an open mind and imagination of the possibilities.

Ross W. Greene

Boston, Massachusetts

Copyright © 2008 by Ross W. Greene


Excerpted from Lost at School by Ross W Greene
Copyright © 2008 by Ross W Greene. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents


1. School of Hard Knocks

2. Kids Do Well If They Can

3. Lesson Plans

4. Let's Get It Started

5. Bumps in the Road

6. Filling in the Gaps

7. Meeting of the Minds

8. School of Thought

9. Lives in the Balance

Assessment of Lagging Skills and Unsolved Problems (ALSUP)

Collaborative Problem Solving (CPS) Plan


Books Cited and Other Recommended Reading



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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 19 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 19 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 26, 2008

    Lost at School. . . Wheather your an educator or a parent, this is a must read.

    Dr. Greene ideas are fresh and inviorating. In the education profession for 15 years, and parenting three special needs children, I was profoundly struck by this book. It addresses all types of challenging behaviors. Teachers learn to Collaboratively Problem Solve,(CPS), with students, parents, other teachers. I recommend this book for anyone who has difficulty knowing how to work with other people, regardless of their needs. Great book!! Thank you Dr. Greene

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 30, 2013

    Informative and Important

    Ross Greene hits the nail on the head with this book about how to interact with students who are not deliberately taught social skills and other academic skills that can lead to serious discipline problems. Dr. Greene understands children and teens and the issues they have with school and educators that just do not understand them.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2013

    A bit disappointing

    The ideas and techniques have been published before. The information and plan is good, but an entire school would have to read it, adhere to it, and work it with the families. Is this needed in the school? Absolutely! But would a school take the time to help children that fall through the cracks! Not that I have witnessed in over 20 years of working in schools. Parents need to step up and request this read!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2013


    I was really surprised by this book because it is engaging. A very interesting read.

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  • Posted August 28, 2012

    Reviewed by ONLY GOOD BOOKS: Every once in a while I come across

    Reviewed by ONLY GOOD BOOKS: Every once in a while I come across a book
    that I think every educator should read. LOST AT SCHOOL by Ross W.
    Greene is one of those books. The subtitle, Why Our Kids with
    Behavioral Challenges Are Falling Through the Cracks and How We Can Help
    Them, promises a lot, and Greene delivers. According to Greene,
    contrary to what some adults might believe, students who find themselves
    frequently in trouble do not necessarily WANT to be in trouble (You’ve
    probably heard this one: “They just want the attention—any attention”).
    In fact, much like adults, children would rather be praised than
    punished. So it is not that they lack the desire to behave well. Nor
    do they fail to understand the rules. It’s this: they lack the skill.
    Or, in some cases, multiple skills—cognitive, emotional, and/or social.
    This is why typical school discipline systems don’t work for them:
    because these students don’t know HOW to do what we want them to do.
    While someone might say, “How hard is it not to push your classmates
    while standing in line?” for these students, it’s not so simple. There
    is more to their story. Greene argues that instead of punishing
    students for repeated infractions (making the same mistakes over and
    over), we should teach them how to behave properly (how to avoid the
    mistakes in the first place). Note that “teaching” in this case
    definitely does not mean “telling.” It is more complicated than that,
    which is why lecturing and cajoling often fail to change behavior (and
    more often than not, build resentment). Greene notes that most schools
    for discipline utilize what he calls “Plan A,” which is characterized by
    consequences and punishment (and sometimes rewards). At the other end
    of the spectrum, simply caving in to students’ demands would be “Plan
    C.” Greene offers his own alternative: “Plan B.” He describes a set of
    steps to engage behaviorally-challenged children in collaborative
    problem-solving, and he illustrates the process with several compelling,
    quite believable, case studies. The results are eye-opening. If you
    have time to read this book before going back to school, it could change
    how you deal with your most challenging students. In a really positive way.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2012

    Highly Recommended

    For teacher's, parent's, DCF personal & law enforcement or anyone dealing with behavioraly challenged children. This book provides detailed practical guidence & other tactics to help our challanged children not only in school which is critical for the well being of these children & all who are envolved in their lives.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2009

    If you're looking for an alternative way to work with behavior problem students then this book is for you.

    Great book to use for staff development. Helps educators think of alternative solutions to assist with behavior problem students. Provides clear examples and a framework for anyone to use Plan B.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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