Thursday, June 24, 2021

Kindness

I write about this often because I don’t think there is enough kindness in the world. Being kind does not cost anything and it can mean a lot to someone in ways we don’t know about.

I can smile at someone and it might bring happiness to them.

I can compliment someone and it will brighten their day.

Holding a door open for someone is a nice thing to do.

Helping someone pick up something is a kind thing to do.

Picking up trash is kind to the world.

Giving up my seat for an older person is kindness.

Offering to throw away someone’s trash after eating is nice.

Helping an elderly person change lightbulbs in their house or taking their trash can to the street are welcomed kindnesses.

Offering to shovel snow off a driveway is very kind.

Raking leaves or doing weeding for someone is kind.

There are many other ways to show kindness and having students brainstorm other ideas may bring up things that you haven’t even thought of doing.

What other ideas would you suggest? Please share.

Photo by Mei-Ling Mirow on Unsplash

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Jealousy

A school environment is open to a lot of jealousy. I believe jealousy is human nature.

Students feel a lot of jealousy towards their peers. They feel that the other students have it easier or better than they have it. Some might feel the teacher is showing favoritism and not being fair. What students don’t realize is that being fair doesn’t always mean being equal. I try to explain that it is like people who are shopping in a grocery store. Each person has different and unique nutritional needs. If each person had the same amount of money, they would buy different things according to needs and preferences. Having a teacher is like money, but students have different educational needs. This analogy helps students realize that they may learn differently from their peers and that is okay if they do.

I’ve had parents who were jealous of other parents. They would contact me telling me that they heard that other parents got some help that they didn’t. The only way I could handle this was by refusing to talk about other students and their parents. I would be glad to talk about the student whose parents I was talking to but no other students. I would be happy to discuss their child’s particular needs but no other student’s needs. When parents saw I was adamant about this and was consistent every time they talked to me, this no longer became an issue.

I also see a lot of jealousy between teachers. Some teachers feel like the administration is showing favoritism to other teachers. Some departments feel like other departments get more things than they ask for. When I became a department chair and attending department chair meetings, I learned how the administration works hard to be fair when making decisions. What many teachers don’t realize is that some decisions have to be made that will benefit the most people. Even though giving a teacher something they want, it doesn’t mean that is the best use of taxpayer’s money and support. I learned that the best way to get something I want is to get other teachers on board and work together to show that this will benefit a large group of students. The more students it will benefit, the better. This request had a higher likelihood of getting approved.

I also worked hard on my own time to connect with my student’s parents or caregivers. I kept in regular contact with them by phone and email. As a result, they were very supportive of me in the classroom and when there was a behavior issue, we were able to work together to correct it. I wrote very few behavior referrals to administrators because of this and my students were successful in my class. Unfortunately, this did not always happen in other classes that my students took. When we had a parent conference, the parents would bring this up and request that other teachers improve their communication with the parents. Later, outside of the conference, I would have teachers upset with me. I was told that I made them look bad and I needed to stop what I was doing. My actions were a personal decision for me and they worked for my classroom management so I was not going to stop them just because another teacher was jealous that the parent praised our communication together.

How do you handle jealousy in the school environment? Please share.

Photo by Jametlene Reskp on Unsplash

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Inferiority

Many of my students with disabilities feel inferior to their peers in general education classes. They feel like damaged goods and that they aren’t good enough to succeed. This is the myth that I work hard at dispelling.

I want my students to know that they are as good as everyone else in the world and deserve to have good things happen to them. Even though they have a disability, they have other strengths that their peers might not have. For example, I had a broken radio in my car and two of my students knew how to work on cars so I let them replace the radio in my car. This was the first time that an adult let them do work on a car for them and I trusted them. I believed in them. Just because I didn’t know how to do that doesn’t mean that I’m inferior to them. When the radio was replaced and working well, they were learning to believe in themselves.

For many years, my students tried to hide the fact that they were in a self-contained special education class. When there was a class break and the bell rang for other students to change classes, my students would hide in the corners of my room so the other students couldn’t see them. Didn’t they realize that their friends already knew this? The only ones in denial were themselves. So, I made every student leave my class during a class break so they didn’t take up class time to use the bathroom because they wouldn’t go on break. I locked the door and wouldn’t let my students back in until right before the bell rang. I explained to them that if they acted like they had something to be ashamed of, then others would treat it this way.

My students had to learn that having a disability was not something they had control over. A learning/emotional disability was just like having diabetes or a prosthetic limb and was not anything they did on purpose. The important thing was learning how to live with this disability.

One way I worked hard to combat this mindset was by having a class motto. Every paper that they turned in to be graded had to have our class motto, “I am a Born Winner!” written on it. At first, they were embarrassed to write it. Then they just rolled their eyes and then slowly, they started to believe in it. They started holding their head up and accepting who they were. They stopped being embarrassed about themselves. What an amazing difference this made in moving forward in class. Suddenly success in school and life began to feel possible!

How do you handle this inferiority complex in your classroom? Please share.   

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Monday, June 21, 2021

Helplessness

Many of my students with disabilities feel helpless especially when they are overwhelmed. For so many years they have faced many failures and very few successes. They have been judged by others including family and friends as being lazy or stupid. Every time they try and make an effort, they feel like they are kicked down. They start believing that maybe they are lazy and stupid so why bother even trying. Life looks hopeless to them.

I believe this is a feeling is learned helplessness and I spend a lot of time fighting it. I want to try to break this cycle and turn their lives around.

My words won’t do it because they have had so many years of practice hearing the negative words. Why should they believe me who they have only known for a short time while all the others in their world tell them differently? I could talk until I’m blue in the face but they won’t believe me. I have to find a way to show them.

I start by doing a lot of pretesting so I can find out their instructional levels. This is important because I want to begin with something they know how to do that is right at the edge of what they don’t know how to do. I want to do a lot of activities during the first couple of weeks that I know they can be successful doing. I praise and encourage them a lot during this time including phone calls home letting their family know how well they are doing. My students aren’t fooled though and are a little suspicious but I keep plodding on.

After I feel they are comfortable with my process, I slip in a few harder tasks that I know they can do successfully with my help. Again, a lot of praise and encouragement goes a long way. Some of my students are surprised they are successful but they are afraid to hope. During this time, I have to be very patient and encouraging with my students because they are waiting for the shoe to fall and failure to occur again. Eventually, I will have them do the work while slowly taking away my help. It is like teaching a child to ride a bicycle and you hold the bike for a while until you have to let go so they can do it on their own. This may take another month or two but it is important to be patient.

I spend a lot of time the whole year talking to the students about taking a risk and trying harder things because I’m here to help them. I won’t let them fail. If I see them falling, I will be there to catch them. If they fall down, I will be there to help them get up. They are not alone.

I explain that everyone faces failures but what they do after them is what counts. President Lincoln ran for different political offices several times before he eventually became President. He didn’t give up and his failures made him more determined to succeed. Even Bill Gates had several failures before he found Microsoft. The ones that you never hear about are the ones that gave up after failing.

Before long, my students will start adding successes to their list of things they do and will have more courage to learn new things. My next step is to teach them what to do when I am not there and they leave my classroom. How do they go about finding help for what they want to learn? This is an important step to teaching independence.

Eventually, their helplessness begins to fade away, and hope for success takes its place.

How do you battle helplessness? Please share.

Photo by Roi Dimor on Unsplash

Friday, June 18, 2021

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 6/18/21

Here are some interesting sites that I’ve found this week, thanks to my PLN. As a teacher, I feel we have to keep up to date concerning research in our field and current issues in the education system. I hope some of these inspire you, inform you, and even have you asking questions. Thank you for coming by and visiting!

Note: Each resource is labeled with a level and subject area to make it easier to use.

Levels: E: Elementary; M: Middle; H: High; G: General, all levels; SN: Special Needs; T: Teachers

Subject Areas: LA: Language Arts, English, Reading, Writing; M: Math; S: Science; Health; SS: Social Studies, Current Events; FA: Fine Arts; Music, Art, Drama; FL: Foreign Language; PE: Physical Ed; C: Career; A: All

Be a Game Changer - “The Change The Game Design Challenge is Google Play’s initiative to build a more inclusive future through gaming and education. Gaming has the potential to inspire creativity, connect people, build communities, and serve as a gateway to new worlds, passions, and professions. We aim to inspire more teens as players and empower them as creators to drive meaningful change in the industry.”(L:M,H;SA:A)

If/Then Collection - We are pleased to offer the IF/THEN® Collection, a digital asset library of women STEM innovators, for educational and other noncommercial use. (L:G;SA:A)

Multiplication Games - free multiplication games (L:E;SA:M)

River Runner - “Click to drop a raindrop anywhere in the contiguous United States and watch where it ends up” (L:G;SA:S)

Simple Truths: 212 The Extra Degree - a video; “212º the extra degree is one Simple Truths book that is a must have in every personal and business library. A Simple Truths #1 bestseller, the concept is this: At 211º water is hot. At 212º, it boils. And with boiling water, comes steam. And steam can power a locomotive. The one extra degree makes the difference. This simple analogy reflects the ultimate definition of excellence. Because it’s the one extra degree of effort, in business and life, that can separate the good from the great. The 212º concept is vividly illustrated for every aspect of your life through powerful stories that will inspire and motivate yourself or your team to the next level of success. Join the people, businesses and schools that have taken action and adopted the 212º concept and attained their goals.” (L:G;SA:A)

Original photo by Pat Hensley