One of those days in school
- teachers complaining about too little time and a curriculum that takes every creativity out of their always busy days, testing and assessment left and right without even having enough time for instructions and to allow children to grow, yet more experts telling everybody what to teach, how to teach, and when to teach it because they know what is best even though they have no idea who your kids are, that you have kiddos who are struggling to sleep because they are living in a car, noisy tummies when they come in because they have not had breakfast, dad deployed, sister in jail, overmedicated so parents can get some rest- but hey, just an ordinary day!
On this day, my little fellow, who is in his own world, only has a conversation about family heritage and batman, came back from his ‘pullout time’ obviously very upset. His IEP goal is heavily focused on self-advocacy because we finally have a fantastic support team that understands that reading 120 words per minute on grade level might not be the highest priority on this kiddo’s list to function in society. Speaking up for his needs, and keeping himself in a good place is a goal we thrive to achieve with him.
When he came back, and I could see his distress, I walked up, looked passed him since he dislikes when someone stares at him and asked ‘Hey, what happened, you look not very happy?” He took about three minutes to respond. I just stood in close proximity to allow him a chance to speak when he was ready while I gave instruction to the class and managed their work. After a while, he quietly and clearly with a lot of distress answered, “I am really angry because I hit someone.” Of course, that is always a ‘red flag’ in the public school system, and I had to take a deep breath, said, “Oh, that is a reason to be upset, tell me more.” And he did- turned out, he was mad and hit a pencil box which flew across the room and it landed in somebody’s lab which he interpreted as ‘hitting someone.”
“You must have been really mad”, I said. He nodded, and continued, “...and now I cannot learn because I am so angry.” If I would have taken his word, angry is usually not good- however, I think he was more mad with himself and certainly not in a place to learn.
Some folks might say, he cannot be rewarded for behavior like that and should get to work- but let us pause: Remember the Movement Method Science: The Frontal Cortex is blocked. Logic reasoning and emotional regulation is impossible at this point and this kiddo could not function the way we would like him to even if he tried his very best.
So I redirected. “What would help you the most right now? I know I cannot learn if I am angry. Do you think holding Kiss (our classroom rat) would help?” He said yes.
Guys, THIS IS HUGE!!! He was totally self-advocating and analyzing to the point where we could even come up with a solution. He then accepted the ‘deal’ to take a timer for 5 min, place the rat back in the cage and get back to his work- he did this without any further guidance from me. Totally self-managed!
These are the times I cherish; the times I remember why being a teacher is the best job in the world, the power education can have and the pleasure and absolute love I feel working with learners. THIS IS WHAT REALLY MATTERS!