Wow. Today was quite the day, and it was such a great learning experience. Students were filing in and out of Mrs. Hart's classroom some on a green card (meaning a good break) and some on a red card (meaning a punishment). One of my students, who has been in our classroom a lot recently, Brian, stomped into the room holding a red card, from hitting two children. Obviously, this is not a good choice and Brian should've never made this decision, but impulse urged him to do so. Once he was calmed down enough, Mrs. Hart worked with him on what he could do the next time he felt like he needed to hit someone. Instead of resulting to violence, he could squeeze his hands together, or take deep breaths until he can think of a better way to handle the situation. But, for that inappropriate action, Brian had to spend the rest of the day in Mrs. Hart's classroom completing his work without his friends. Brian has been diagnosed by the school psychologist with Other Health Impairments. Another student came in the room, Braden, to work on his reading with Mrs. Hart. He has been diagnosed with autism, depression, ADHD, OCD, and a few other challenges, which make it very difficult to stay in class for long increments of time. Unfortunately, he struggles to close his mouth, and sometimes blurts out things that aren't appropriate. For example when he saw a picture of Mrs. Hart another student drew today he shouted, "Not to be mean but-" but Mrs. Hart quickly stopped him, and explained that if you think there's a chance that that remark could be mean, you probably shouldn't say it. It slipped out anyways as he shared, "that doesn't look like Mrs. Hart at all." The poor student was very upset, and it made me realize how much these students cannot control themselves. Once Braden came up with a thought, he couldn't rid it from his brain! And that is a factor that restricts him from having friends. Children with special needs require so much more than how to behave when angry, but they need to understand how to socially be acceptable, and it's so sad that such a sweet kid like Braden struggles to do so much. After Braden completed his work, he received a 5 minute break, which I spent playing with him before I took him back upstairs to his classroom. As I was telling him it was time to leave, he seemed to ignore what I had to say and kept playing, Mrs. Hart contributed trying to get him to listen, and after awhile he finally listened to me. It was difficult because all I wanted to give him was an extra minute to play, but I knew that for him, every minute counts, and he needed that constant redirection to help him succeed. When we reached his classroom, he walked right in heading up to a group of students, but whom both barely made eye contact with him. I know Braden is trying really hard, but he doesn't understand the social boundaries, which made me very pleased for this unit, so that every child has a chance for success. Upon my arrival at Mrs. Hart's classroom, I found, Gage, a child who is emotionally disturbed, wandering around with a bit of anger in his step. He was throwing clothes pins and bothering Brian who was hard at work. When I asked what happened, Mrs. Hart explained that he had to be carried out of his classroom. And when she announced to him that until he acts like a first grader he can't go back to his classroom, anger started to boil out of his ears. He had a St. Patrick's day green beaded necklace in his desk, that he whipped against the desks and the walls sending the beads flying. He was screaming, "I want to go back to my classroom!" And he tried to escape, running for the door, but Mrs. Hart ran out and grabbed him, and had me stand in front of it. I expected her to try to console Gage, but instead just allowed him to throw his temper-tantrum, so he threw chairs on the ground, on top of tables, flipped desks over, threw boxes of paper onto the ground, took the faucet and sprayed the room, screamed, attempted to escape again by pounding on the door, and even lunged for the computers. All he wanted was to destroy the room to get his way, but Mrs. Hart knew that this was not an acceptable response, and ignored him so he wouldn't get any extra attention and think this was a good idea. When it was time for me to leave, he had still yet to calm himself down, but I wish I could've stayed to help. Mrs. Hart texted me later today and told me he had relaxed, which made me happy, but I was still amazed by Mrs. Hart's soothing state during this melt down. I hope one day, I can be half the teacher she is to those children, for it takes so much patience to work with students who struggle so much like her, and it also takes such a kind heart to want so much for these students that she puts up through all of this. That takes someone stronger than most could ever be, and I am so fortunate to get to spend my observations under her wing. Under the special behavior unit, each student is treated on an individual basis, so she handles situations differently among each student. With students who struggle to control their impulses, the demands are much less strict than those who can. For example, the student Brian, who has been diagnosed with Other Health Impairments, must immediately fill out a "think sheet," which basically has the student reflect on the incident, when he or she receives a red card. For a student such as Gage, Mrs. Hart gives them a chance to calm down before any actions are made, and there is likely no think sheet given, only a discussion over how the actions could've been handled more effectively. Brian can handle the think sheet because he has more control over his impulses than Gage. It is important for Mrs. Hart to deal with each student independently, for not every student has the same story, and the way she handles her students is amazing.
The Map of the Learning World
Along with me as your tour guide, you'll also find I've added my daily journal entries, or blogs, to help guide you through the learning world. Feel free to check them out!