Thursday, July 21, 2011
It Takes a Village...
Hallelujah! I have survived the first week and a half of school…each year I must remind myself how much I really don’t care for the first weeks of school and those compulsory endeavors that occur: lessons in the rules and expectations of my classroom, coaching of procedures and routines as well as the necessary assessments to formulate where to go from here for each child.
As you know, I teach children in grades 3-5 who have differentiated learning needs. Each grade is unique but third grade forever proves interesting since in our school they ‘finally’ get to ascend the stairs in our building and are at this time considered a part of ‘the big kids’.
I marvel at the change in attitude a few stairs can cause but it is quite the happening. This climb necessitates the foundation in building relationships with students who once belonged to a different resource room teacher. Although I am blessed that I along with my 4th and 5th graders can carry on- building and nurturing bonds already set in motion.
Early on we read a book titled; You are Perfect Little Bird by Shelley Joy which pointed out the uniqueness of each individual. We discussed the character and emphasized his exceptional traits which led into their assignment. The children were asked to draw a picture of them then write 3-4 sentences telling why they are special and unique.
I gave ample ‘think time’ and instructed the children to start. I played soft music in the background as ten minutes proceeded while one little boy continued to sit. I approached him to ask what he was thinking. He told me he wasn’t special. He told me he couldn’t think of a thing.
I noted I immediately saw a bright smile when he walked into the room. I pointed out his liveliness and spirit although a result of his ADHD and keened in on his helpfulness to hand out papers hoping I’d given him some ideas.
He continued to sit so I suggested he begin with the setting and perhaps an idea would pop into his head.
When class was over 20 minutes later, the bustle of dismissal with a few parting instructions I noticed this young boy had yet to begin on a picture of himself and that he quickly stuffed his paper into his folder. He lagged behind and as he walked out the door said, ‘Teacher, I really don’t have anything special about me.’
I felt melancholy as I gazed upon his slow walk back to his classroom wondering how a seven year old child could think of nothing that was special about his person, his being.
Did we as educators fail this child? Did his parents feel he was not up to snuff because of his special needs?
I vowed my goal would be for him to be able to complete the same assignment at the end of the year and staunchly tell me at least a handful of positive things about himself. The situation also brought to mind that it really DOES take a village to raise a child.