“What would be one (or two) items on your classroom wishlist? Why? How might you get this item?”
I wish that I could have one mentor for each student. I know that people probably expect me to wish for some technology or books or supplies but I think more than anything special ed students need a mentor. They already have trouble with socializing with their peers, they have trouble with academics, and many have no friends to even eat with at lunch. By the time they reach high school, their self-esteem is either extremely low or almost nonexistent. It is so hard for me to see my students depressed and lonely. There are no tools or supplies that boost a student like positive human interaction.
I wish there was someone who could spend at least an hour a day helping one particular student throughout the school year. This would almost be like a school big brother or big sister. This person can tutor the student in academic subjects that is a major struggle. As a teacher, I would still teach the skill but then the student could practice this skill with a mentor. It is like a child learning how to use a baseball glove and ball but needs someone to practice playing catch with them. This mentor could also listen as the student reads aloud or even take turns reading required lessons out loud. Teachers just aren’t able to spend the time they really want and need to with each individual child and this would really help.
Some of my students with autism have no one to eat lunch with and this would give them a friend to hang out with during this unstructured time. Also having a mentor would help the student feel safer from torment or bullying (which happens no matter how hard we try to stop it).
In order to start a program like this, a brochure naming and explaining the program would have to be created. Strict guidelines would have to be developed for the volunteers and students explaining what they could or could not do such as they must always being in direct supervision of a teacher. Then it would take administrative approval. Once approved, each student would probably have to get parental permission (just like they would in a Big Brother/Big Sister program). I would be able to approach the PTSA, Rotary clubs, Lion’s club, Kiwanis club, college education programs and clubs, and any other volunteer organization that would be interested.
What is one (or two) things on your wishlist? How would you get it? Please share.