Friday, May 11, 2012

Student Teacher

I had the extreme privilege of having a student teacher this semester.  He is an incredible addition to the special education field and I look forward to working together as peers in the future.  But what this experience gave me was a chance to reflect.  After all, in the beginning of the learning, a student teacher mimic, or reflects that which they observed you do until they begin to grow into their own professional personality.  This experience taught me many new things and confirmed others.  Here are the 4 that impacted me the most.

  • Teaching is a craft from the moment students arrive until they leave.  There are so many ways to approach a skill as just as many ways to teach it.
  • This is the most difficult job to teach while it is one of the easiest to enjoy.  
  • Students are resilient.  Forgive yourself on the day that you make a mistake, miss a teaching moment, or simply aren't your best.  They will still learn.
  • You can't teach compassion, risk taking, or creativity.  You can make it safe to feel compassion, take a risk, or think creatively.

And on a personal note:

  • I am way harder on myself than anyone else.
  • I love my job and am grateful that I get to do something I am passionate about every day.
  • Laughing and celebrating with my students is still my favorite part of the day.
I am going to miss team teaching with such a great professional but most of all, I am eternally grateful that he gave me the chance to learn more about me as a person, professional, and friend.  I hope I taught him as much as he taught me.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Kids Today...

We are bombarded with information about kids today.  Unfortunately it is usually not positive statements that follow the conversational starter: "Kids today..."

I came across a story that changes that,

in a BIG way.

This is real kids, doing really great things, for ALL members of their school community.  I followed up on this video by scanning the local newspapers and came across an article written by Tina Griego.  I love that the biggest concern his classmates had was that he would believe it was votes driven by pity rather than sincere votes of love that helped him win.

I tell you, kids today....

are amazing.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Proud to Be "Goof"

Twelve years ago I had the privilege of teaching a young man with Down Syndrome who taught me so many things about teaching.  This young man was only in kindergarten when I met him and he instantly stole my heart.  He was funny, active, athletic, and STUBBORN!!!  This young man could out-wait everyone in his life when given directions he wasn't fond of following.  We instantly connected as, I hate to admit it, am also incredibly stubborn.  We were kindred spirits and able to quickly move from behavior management to learning and having fun together.

As he became more comfortable, he started to say more than "ugh" and "no."  Everything he said was a repeat of what you said to him.  Even if I said things like, "I am a pretty girl," he would repeat with "I am a pretty girl."  He didn't even seem to realize what he was saying.  I just wanted him to keep talking.

Then, one day, it happened.  This young man was walking across the amphitheater making funny shadows as he walked and I said to him, "You are a goof."  He turned around, looked me straight in the eye (which was a victory in itself) and said, "No, you are the goof."

It was a real-time, honest, original sentence.  I was so excited that I wanted to hear it again and replied with the not-quite-mature-but-engaging "No, you sir, are the goof."  At which point he walked to me, said, "you are goof," and ran ahead with a giggle.

From that day on, this young man did two things:

Spoke conversationally with his own ideas, requests, and initiation 


Called me "Goof" as though that is my name.  

Needless to say, my principal at the time heard the story as I was sharing his celebration and she also adopted the name for me.  The young man's mom could only call me "Goof" or he would correct her.  Within a month, that was my name.  One I wore proudly as it was the result of one amazing moment as a teacher.  A few years later, I moved to a new state and received this beautiful gift that I still treasure.