10 June 2011
For those who do not know me, I am a special educator in a general education high school. My students with disabilities are included in regular education classrooms. And by this, I mean fully included - all subjects, phys. ed. and all extracurricular activities. I am currently co-teaching 11th grade English, US History and Chemistry.
Yesterday, at my subject area meeting, the teachers were asked to share some successes that we have had this year. I have had three great successes this year. For confidentiality purposes, I have changed their names.
I had a student, whom we will call Bob, that was classified as emotional disturbance. As a child, Bob had difficulty controlling his anger and his emotions. He threw chairs, cursed out teachers, and had a general lack of respect for any type of authority. As he grew older, these displays of inappropriate behavior diminished but it was evident from various assessments that his learning was severely impacted.
Last November, he wanted out of special education. I tried to reason with him and convince him to keep the services for at least one more year. Bob said "NO! I should not be punished for the rest of my life for mistakes I committed in my past. I am a bird and I want to fly!" Well, we decertified and his parting words were, "I'm gonna prove you wrong, Miss." I am happy to say that he did prove me wrong. Not only is Bob doing well in all his classes without support, he is excelling on all the predictive state assessments. Needless to say, I cried, hugged him, apologized and told him he was absolutely right!
I have a student, Brian, who was absent for about 50% of his 9th grade year and 60% of his 10th grade year. Now in his 11th grade year, he decided to make a change. Brian asked me for support in all of the classes in which I co-teach. I give him encouragement when he feels he just can't do it anymore. I provide him coping strategies for when he feels like giving up and I give him guidance when he feels unsure about himself. Yesterday, I told Brian, "You are one of my successes this year and I made sure every 11th grade teacher knew it. I praised all of your hard work and your improved attendance. Keep it up!" He smiled from ear to ear and had a little pep in his step when he walked into my US History class. When I shared this with my co-teacher, I cried yet again.
This one is dear to my heart. I have a student, Bill, who has a learning disability. He has difficulty reading grade level text, deficits in reading comprehension and challenges transcribing his thoughts in writing. Bill did absolutely no work from September to December. From what my colleagues have shared, Bill has a difficult home life and it affected his ability to concentrate in school. However, in February, Bill began to attempt writing tasks, he was more vocal (he has a lovely deep baritone voice) during class discussions and he began volunteering for roles in collaborative activities. My co-teacher and I attribute this to the 11th grade Washington DC trip where the students visited various colleges. He saw himself sitting in the lecture hall and envisioned himself a success. It makes a difference when a student can see him or herself in a positive environment and becoming successful.
I told Bill that I was so proud of him. I explained to him that I noticed the improvement in his work and the progress he was making in credit accumulation. I suggested that he explore radio internships since he had a great voice and a presence that made people stop when he spoke. He smiled, blushed and said, "Miss, I won't fail you." Again, I cried and hugged him.
Upon reflection, I didn't do anything special that other teachers have not already done. However, it takes just a positive remark and letting someone know that you care and feel that they are worth something. Pass along a kind word to someone today and help facilitate that person to blossom.
I am feeling so good that I have crazily joined the BuNoWriMo! :D
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.