Tag Archives: teacher

The Teacher Took His Microphone

 

She took the microphone away from a child.

She took the microphone away from a child.

By now many of you have seen the video clip of a teacher taking the microphone from a child living with Autism. Many have condemned the teacher while others have made excuses why this might be okay. I have a few thoughts about this, but also some questions.

Who was this performance meant to benefit?

When my students put on performances, it was to make the school, classroom, or parents look and feel good. I cannot remember one time when it was for all of the kids, chosen by the kids, and a benefit to the kids. Some children love to be in public and performing while others shy away and they certainly should be allowed to do either behavior without forced to perform like trained animals.

As adorable as seeing children on stage is, it is easy for them to think you are laughing at them when you really are laughing because they did something cute. Often, public speaking is part of state educational standards which really does not allow students with varying interests and abilities to be educated in the least restrictive environment while attending to their unique needs and interests. Free choice is the key, if I am being honest. Unfortunately. teachers have very little time for this type of educational model.

light-bulb-1002783_1920

What will teachers do when the number of children with Autism is greater than the number of those without?

While some children have Autism due to genetic factors, others have onset of symptoms after exposure to environmental toxins. At this point in time, both are coded as Autism. That may change in the future, but right now, to receive therapies and have them coded in a way that insurance companies will help pay for the costs, this is the reality.

As the numbers of those living with Autism climb, and make no mistake this is the prediction, how will our educational system fare? How will teachers be able to do their jobs with class sizes up to 20 in early childhood grade levels and over half of their students living with special needs? As numbers of those with Autism grow, will teachers be able to differentiate instruction, work on behavior concerns, and not burn out?

I am doubtful. In my state, all re-certifications must include ESE training classes. Because some of these classes will be taught in individual schools by those working there, we don’t actually know how much correct information or quality is going into them. I hope great care is being taken.

When I took my courses, I did so through a university. Unfortunately, they focused on coercion of students in order to make them comply even when it really was not necessary to force compliance for safety or educational purposes. The truth is that less is more. Routine, reminding of expectations before an issue occurs, and patience all help. Sometimes we have to be strict, but mostly we have to be flexible and understanding as long as safety is not an issue.

In addition, there were ESE teachers in my classes who repeatedly said terrible things about children and made generalizations about “them”. The term “animals” was thrown around and I was so appalled that I chose another university for my PHD program.

Please remember, there are some fantastic teachers who do bring poor teacher behaviors to the attention of administrators, but there are also teachers who are afraid of having a tougher work environment if they speak up. We must work to enable the positive teachers while re-educating or sending away those who are terribly behaved.

What about this child?

I would not be surprised if the teacher was tired and wanted to “put him in his place” when she snatched the microphone. She probably worked all day, had frustrations with him all day, and decided this would show him that she was in charge and to be obeyed no matter what. She was at her breaking point and has not been educated regarding 1. special needs and 2. psychologically appropriate educational techniques. Maybe this is her fault. Maybe her boss should train the employees better. Maybe her former college ought to retool their programs.

At any rate, she was wrong.

She was prideful, went on a power trip, and was wrong.

 

What if parents complain about accommodations?

What if parents complain about accommodations?

What if the other parents complain about teachers allowing ESE students to behave or learn differently?

It doesn’t matter what other parents think. IDEA says that those living with certain special needs must be accommodated.

I have seen some terrible comments on social media about how children with special needs shouldn’t get “extras”, also known as developmentally appropriate teaching practices. They blame the victim saying he had already had a turn, and maybe he did. Maybe he was working on learning about taking turns and has not yet mastered the skill. This is exactly why we have bullying. Many adults cannot handle being different from one another so they push that insecurity and hate on children who then bully each other. Thank goodness some people are working to educate those who bully others.

Providing training, skills, and strategies may help.

Providing training, skills, and strategies may help.

What should happen to the teacher?

First, I am not clear as to whether that teacher sees the child on a day to day basis or not. If so, she ought to, at the very least, be removed and replaced from that position so they do not come into contact. The child should not be moved from the classroom if she is a special area or classroom teacher. Removing the child from the classroom and putting him in another is disruptive to him and punishes him so the teacher is the one who must move.

Then, of course, the teacher must give a public apology. If she feels embarrassed, that is sad, but it is exactly how that tiny human felt so she will be okay in doing this. It is important for children to see that nobody is perfect and that we can do our best to correct mistakes. This is how children learn to be good humans, by observing our behaviors and how we adults correct ourselves. Snatching a microphone teaches the child that someone bigger can take your stuff without permission and he is more likely to do the same behavior to get his way if the teacher doesn’t apologize and then make better choices.

Next, all teachers in the district, yes in the entire district, must be educated regarding how to not take behaviors personally when they have stress due to teaching children with special needs. If you watch the video, the teacher was clearly taking something personally and on a power trip to show that kid who is in charge and who can do whatever they want. 

This may be a pervasive attitude in the area or school. If your notice in the video, no adult jumps up to stop the teacher, either. I would highly encourage parent education night as well, not only for information about Autism, but also to learn about other special needs present in educational settings.

Another potential solution is to provide support. I recall needing assistance due to students, in different situations, being harmful to themselves or others. When calling for assistance, I was often told that no one was available. Sometimes help would come, sometimes not. I ended up doing most of the work of a dean myself or with the help of my next door teammate.

When stress gets to be too much or someone is being unsafe, there should be someone who can help or give the teacher a break. I often said that if I had not been trained with strategies and skills to deal with high stress situations, then I might have lost it. I can understand how teachers snap. Please note that though parent volunteers are awesome, you cannot leave the classroom with them in charge so that is not a viable option for a break due to stress.

We must insist upon a supportive environment for students and teachers by providing training, tools, and support.

We must insist upon a supportive environment for students and teachers by providing training, tools, and support.

It is important to provide skills and strategy options so that teachers and students do not feel backed into a corner. Teachers have to remember not to take student behaviors personally. The truth of the matter is that we are all different and that is okay. However, being a bully is never okay. This teacher was at the end of her rope and chose to bully. It’s time for her take a step back and try things differently. There are a great many of us who benefit from this idea, too. There’s no shame in learning new strategies and all children, whether developing typically or not, deserve patience and multiple chances to learn social skills.

The Value of Alternative Assessments

These days high stakes testing and school accountability mean that teachers, parents, and students have less room to vary lessons, tests, and proof that learning has occurred. While it is important to prevent systematic racism, which is the reason many reformers have historically given when pushing a one size fits all standards and accountability framework, it is also important to recognize that not all students will feel motivated within this framework. This is why it is highly important to provide a variety of options for showing that learning has occurred.

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If you are a student with special needs or a child who is not interested in pencil and paper options which are predictable and somewhat boring in the eyes of some people, then alternative assessment options will be more likely to keep you interested and to show where you have improved as well as where you still need to work on a certain concept.  After all, standardized tests do not often provide immediate information with which to inform instruction in a meaningful and emergent way. By using continuing assessment tools which often have the opportunity to change in presentation, you not only allow students to show their strengths, but a teacher or parent is more likely to quickly see gaps in learning and how to fix these gaps. The goal should be mastery, not passing a test with a C grade or higher. This makes alternative assessment options useful, interesting for the learner, and appropriate in both brick and mortar school and homeschool education models.

How do I begin?

Many people ask how to go about moving away from canned lessons and toward flexible assessments. Canned lessons can be good if they allow for flexibility when students need this. However, many times teachers must change lessons quite a bit in order to meet the needs of all learners in their care. If you must use canned lessons, don’t’ worry, you can still use flexible assessment options most of the time. You may already have some of these options written into 504 Plans or IEPs which you currently use for some students.

What does alternative assessment look like?

For example, if a student needs to give an oral report, but has anxiety, allow the student to choose a newscast style report where it is recorded first, a small group presentation, or a large group presentation. Also, give the student the option of a podium and stool in order to help support the student should he or she decide to give a live presentation.

If a student with low muscle tone needs to show you how to add with two digit numbers, don’t focus on the writing component. Instead, allow for the option to type, draw large pictures, have extra time to write numbers, use a stencil, or show using a poster board and objects glued on. This way the child can show understanding of the concept, but not be bogged down with pain in the hand due to low tone.

Sometimes gifted students, and others, become bored with the same routine. They may have a lowered attention span or refuse to complete a task due to being bored. Instead, try asking the student to create a newspaper that offers solutions to math problems like the ones through which you are currently working. Another option is to allow the student to create a physical project, like a science project or photography project, to illustrate the skill he or she must master.

The goal is not to copy the ideas listed here, but rather find options that both test a skill and allow students to do their best work without feeling as if the task is either above or below them. By adding a dash of creativity, a list of options, and allowing students to try something new, you are enabling both learning and constructive criticism which will help them to learn, grow, and succeed.

For further information

If you would like more information about education or behavior management, sign up for my email list. If you feel that a consultation would benefit you or your family, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I am happy to provide advice and behavior plans in order to help your home or classroom work efficiently and in a positive manner. Remember, you can do this. 🙂

 

About the author

Photograph by Alexandra Islas

Photograph by Alexandra Islas

Melissa Packwood, M.S. Ed. is a former teacher, behavior coach, and tutor who works with families and students to help them reach their full potential in a peaceful, positive environment. Melissa’s educational experiences paired with real world experience give her a unique perspective when working with families to achieve their behavioral and educational goals.  Please contact Melissa with questions or to request services.

Phone Number : 407-712-4368

Email : lissa_kaye54@yahoo.com

 

5 Reasons to Read Picture Books to Older Children

Educators and parents often consider picture books to be for young children in early elementary grades. However, I have found picture books extremely helpful for older children in late elementary, middle, and high school grades. Read on to find out 5 reasons why you should read picture books to older children.

Child Reading

1. Reading to another person reaffirms that you care.

2. Reading to another person shows that you value literature.

3. Older students may have special needs or English may be a second language which can make comprehension or reading difficult. By reading to older students, you remove some of the roadblocks preventing the enjoyment and understanding of a story.

4. Reading picture books to older children helps them to understand pronunciations, story lines, and other constructs of literature which they may miss through lectures and by reading to themselves.

5. Reading to older children lets them sit back, relax, and enjoy a great story.

Get Excited About Volcanoes!

        My son, who is 5, LOVES to read about Earth’s constant changes. One of his favorite books discusses ways the Earth is changing every day. Hands on activities help him understand even more about the Earth’s many parts. He has been particularly focused on volcanic action and tectonic plates lately. I wanted to take a moment to share some information, which I found helpful, with you about volcanoes. This post does contain sponsored links from Educents, but definitely has important educational information, too. Enjoy!

Creater Of Bromo Volcano, East Java, Indonesia by lkunl

Creater Of Bromo Volcano, East Java, Indonesia by lkunl

Volcano Facts for Kids

Before you jump into the volcano science experiment, share these interesting facts about volcanoes with your little learners:

  • There are about 1,900 active volcanoes on the earth. This means they have
    erupted recently or they might erupt. Some volcanoes are extinct. Over 80 volcanoes have been found in the ocean.
  • Most volcanoes happen on fault lines, or cracks in the Earth’s surface.
  • Most of the earth’s volcanoes are in the Pacific Ocean, in an area called the Ring of Fire.
  • The word “volcano” comes from Vulcan, the Roman god of fire.
  • Lava from volcanoes can reach temperatures of 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Volcanoes spew out ash and toxic gases, as well as lava and lava boulders.

Volcano Science Experiment for Kids

Check out these kids use household chemicals to recreate a volcanic eruption!

 

Using the Volcano Kit from the video, little scientists are asked to mix chemicals to make the volcano erupt! This will be an experiment that Young Scientists will want to repeat again and again!


Want to get a discount on science experiments for kids? Save 50% on the Magic School Bus Science Kits onEducents! Offer ends 8/26.

Magic School Bus Science Kits

Get an exciting new Magic School Bus Science Kit delivered to your
doorstep
every month for a YEAR! These science experiments for kids include
hands-on experiments with magnets, water, bacteria, fungus, lights, rainbows, and more!

Teaching Tip: Helping a Reluctant Writer

Writing is about more than getting the words on paper. Sometimes students struggle with anxiety over “getting it right” and meeting expectations. The anxiety or fear of failure may prevent them from beginning a writing project. We can ease this stress by allowing flexible assignments, flexible presentation, and by backing off on other concerns (like grammar). Get back to the basics and focus on getting the story out instead of focusing on getting the story put on paper immediately and without mistakes. Below are nine of my favorite tips which may help your reluctant writers.

writer

  1. One way to help a student who struggles with writing is to use a frame. A frame creates part of a sentence while allowing the student to personalized the rest.

I feel _____ when I hear my favorite song.

The dog ________.

Yesterday I ______.

 

  1. Another way to support your struggling writers is to create lists. Have your class sit down and brainstorm lists of adverbs, adjectives, and other words that they may forget to use. Make lists of words that are more exciting than the typical “good”, “happy”, “mad”, “okay”. Make sure the lists are displayed in your room and also in each student’s writing notebook or folder for easy access. When a sentence seems short or less than interesting, ask the students to add one or more words form the lists to help create a more exciting sentence.

I saw a dog run.

I saw a fat collie jump and run across the field.

  1. Use a recording. Have your student speak the story while record it using a digital recorder or computer program. Then, when it is time to write, the student can listen as many times as needed while writing down the information.
  2. Act as a scribe for your students. Write what they say. Now they can read or write the information anytime.
  3. Use flexible presentation options. For example, allow the student to write a play instead of a typical composition. You could also allow the student to retell the story using felt boards, puppets, or a pretend campfire setting.
  4. Type it out. Use a computer or tablet instead of paper and pencil. If motor skills are a concern, this can help alleviate the extra stress that occurs because the student’s hands don’t work as neatly or quickly as he would like.
  5. Use a topic the student knows about or is fascinated with. This will encourage the student to be vested in learning and sharing information.
  6. Don’t rush the timeline. Good writers might complete an entire story in one day. However, most writers spend days, weeks, or longer to create their work.
  7. Use examples. Have you ever tried to create a new meal without a recipe? It’s nearly impossible without help. Our students need us to share examples with them so they know what good, quality writing looks like. Examples can come from trade books, textbooks, the Internet, and more. Make a habit out of discussing writing practice as you come across them in class.

She Called the Teacher “Mom”

Image courtesy of Phaitoon at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Phaitoon at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most teachers tell a similar story. Sometime near the beginning of their career a student accidentally called them “mom”. It happens a lot. When a student first called me “mom”, I worried about it. Would the parents be mad if the event came up in conversation? Did the child look to me, rather than the parent, for love, information, or other needs to be met? How should I proceed? Should I discourage this behavior?

Then I realized that my children may do the same thing. My children might call a teacher “mom”. What would that mean about my child’s relationship with her teacher? What would that mean about my relationship with my child?

After I waded through my feelings about students calling me “mom” and my children potentially calling teachers “mom”, I tried to think more rationally about the topic. It happens. Students call teachers “mom”. It can be an automatic response. It can happen because the child is tired. It can also happen because the student looks to the teacher for the attention, guidance, and acceptance that the teacher provides.

I know this information does not erase the feelings parents may have. The key is to remember that all feelings are valid, but the way we deal with or express the feelings is important. You can feel sad or worried without pushing those feelings onto the teacher or your child. Talk to a friend or spouse about the concerns you have. Spend time with your child so you can further strengthen your bond. Unhappy feelings don’t go away overnight, but you can work through them if they exist in your life.

Try to consider this a positive situation. If your child feels, subconsciously, like a teacher is good enough to be called mom, then both you and the teacher ought to be proud. Your child loves and respects you both. Your child looks to both of you for guidance. What a fabulous thing! All children deserve to have as many safe, kind, and positive people in their lives as possible. If they trust a teacher enough to allow the teacher into this role, count your blessings. This is a good thing!

Why Don’t My Children Follow Directions?

Parents often come to me with frustration because their children do not appear to listen or follow directions with reliability. Sometimes this is a true issue. There may be a concern about safety. Other times, this is a non-issue. Perhaps the child did not hear the instruction or has a different order of priorities than the parent.

Some parents, and some teachers, become upset when children do not make eye contact. Keep in mind that eye contact is not an indicator of attention being given. Some children are listening while they jump around or stare at the wall, while others are not listening in these cases.

Here are some questions to consider before labeling a child non-compliant to your directions. These questions help me to remember that my ego is not more important than a cooperative and kind relationship with my children. The goal is for my children to listen because they trust and respect me, not because I bully them into compliance.

1. Am I speaking in a kind, firm tone?

2. Is there room for cooperation? Could we work on a solution together?

3. Do I give ample time to complete the task?

4. Do I follow through immediately when my child asks something of me? If not, then should I expect my child to complete a task immediately?

5. Is this an emergency situation?

6. Does my child need assistance because the job is tedious or difficult?

7. Is there a special need of which I should be aware?

Review of This Little Kiddy Went to Market : The Corporate Capture of Childhood

Many of us already know that our children are a marketing tool that companies use to sell products. We know that incessant whine that some children have at the store when they see an impulse item they want. Many of us avoid children’s television shows or magazines because of the advertisements placed within them. Our children need to be protected from such things and our wallets thank us as well. This Little Kiddy Went to Market : The Corporate Capture of Childhood, written by Sharon Beder with Wendy Varney and Richard Gosden, not only presents evidence regarding advertising and marketing to children, but also chronicles the fairly recent events within education that affect our children and their futures.

As a former teacher and a parent, I spend much of my time researching education trends and news. Though This Little Kiddy Went to Market : The Corporate Capture of Childhood was published in 2009, there are still many topics we currently see in education today. Chapter Five discusses the de-funding of schools. Many of us think that there is a recession to blame or a high jobless rate to blame. However, the de-funding of public schools can be traced back to corporations, lobbyists, and lack of willingness to pay for community services like schools. The exciting part of this trend, for corporations at least, was that they could then go ahead and implement what the authors call “fundraising schemes”. Examples of such schemes are BoxTops4Education, Campbell’s Labels for Education, and other similar programs. You see by de-funding schools, these companies no longer have to pay high tax rates. These companies, and others, used those funds to create schemes that not only “help” the schools they de-funded, but also to build brand loyalty. Would you say no to a school in need of money? What if you have no money to donate? Sure, then you would absolutely share your box tops or labels in order to help the school. After all, it is for the children, right? The corporations make themselves look like “the good guys” after sneaking around and beginning as the “bad guys”. If you read far enough into this book, you will find out more pertinent details. For example, how many teenage boys out of every ten will be prescribed psychotropic medication if they attend a doctor appointment? (Hint: See page 205!)

I could go on forever singing the praises of the research-based information within This Little Kiddy Went to Market : The Corporate Capture of Childhood, but I prefer to ask you to read the book. Once you have this information, it will be difficult to see childhood and education in the same way. As with anything in life, follow the money and you will find the reason for legislation. Please consider reading this book and sharing the information with others. Click the book pictured below for more information or to make a purchase. Knowledge IS power and power helps us to make responsible choices for ourselves and our families.

 

Ways to Teach While Grocery Shopping

Many families use every day experiences to teach. Grocery shopping is a fantastic way to teach math, reading skills, how to make wise choices, nutrition, and how to budget. Below is a list of ways to teach while grocery shopping.

1. Make a list for each child. Use pictures and/or words depending on the child’s reading level. I usually put different items on each list so there are no arguments.

2. Bring paper and a pencil to practice math. Practice adding to find the total, subtraction to find out how much change is due, multiply by the amount of each item you are purchasing, divide to find unit price, or use percentages to find out how much tax you will pay.

3. Allow the children to push a cart, lift items into the cart, and unload the cart as interest, age and ability allow. Not only does this increase awareness of surroundings, it also helps children exercise which helps many children focus on their body part and how they work together.

4. Ask your children to read signs in the store. Take time to explain why some words can be sounded out phonetically, while others do not follow basic rules of English. If signs are in another language or bilingual, learn a new word together or write down new word to research at home.

5. Show your children how to use a shopping list and how to budget. Have the children check off items as they are selected.  Also, ask the children to make choices between similar items that are different prices and sizes. Discuss per unit pricing and how long each item or box will last if your family purchases the product.

6. Discuss how food gets to the table. Talk about farms, farmer markets, grocery stores, and delivery services. Discuss why some foods go bad more quickly than others which is often due to a long travel time from farm to store.

7. Allow your children to help choose the meal plan for the week and then help write the shopping list, as is age or ability appropriate.

8. Discuss needs versus wants and talk about how to plan ahead to save money so you can afford some of their wants from time to time.