At her Congressional hearing, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos was asked directly if she would deny federal funding to the Lighthouse Christian zacademy in Bloomington, Indiana, which explicitly bans the enrollment ipof students who are homosexual or who live in a family where homosexual activity is practiced. “Rep. Katherine Clark, D-Massachusetts, cited Lighthouse Christian Academy’s […]

via Betsy DeVos Would Not Deny Federal Funding to a School That Refuses to Admit Child of LGBT Family — Diane Ravitch’s blog

Is This Your Kid?

“Is This Your Kid” is a series of 10-minute case studies that look at the learning and behavioral difficulties most of us have encountered at one time or another in our classrooms whether we are teachers of typical students or students with special needs. Every anecdote is a real life situation that happened at some time during my decades of teaching—of course with the names, dates and places changed.
I always wanted a “Dear Abbey” for teachers and here’s my shot.
I’d love to see what you think. (Please bear with me as I’m still canoodling with the format. For now, the “problems” and their “solution” can all be read here by scrolling down.)

 

  1. Spitballs On The Bus
  2. The Trust Factor
  3. Potty Talk For Teens
  4. Blindsight

1.  Spitballs On The Bus

            Though the zippy spitballs in the video would delight kids of all ages, the old fashioned, low-tech, wadded paper version still rules for mischiefy fun the same today in most schools as it has since Socrates. Well, maybe not Socrates. He had all that poison, after all. And even today’s lowly spitball has the power to propel a simple field trip day by bus into a soggy chaos of the first order.

            You’re a middle school special education teacher. You know the score. A local grant is awarded in March that you have to use by the end of May for “cultural enrichment.” You find this out April 13th. In these days of abysmal funding, you’re lucky to get it, though it barely covers the bus driver’s overtime for the day so your choices are limited. You scramble to use it, or rather your team leader scrambles to use it before the money is forfeit. She or he decides the state fair, 100 miles south, would be a highly effective and engaging practical application of math skills—yes, teachers talk this way. “Yes,” he or she says, “choosing three no-thrill rides instead of the similarly priced sky-dive-near-death experience, comparing gas mileage costs per person by bus with private vehicle and comparing school lunch costs with rip-off food stands at the fair will build all kinds of math skills.”

All kinds.

Before they load onto the bus, you give your newly hormoned adolescents, with the impulse control of four-year olds, worksheets you know from the start will be lost before they exit the bus and race for the ticket booth. Sound like every 12-hour field trip half-way across the state you’ve taken with a group of 60 kids, two other teachers and three chaperones?

            As if that weren’t enough, the bus driver, Alva, not her real name for obvious reasons, hates you because your kids are rowdy and needy and messy. She’s concluded long ago you’re a wimp because, if you were a real teacher, you’d whip the little goonies into shape. Beside you make more money than she does.

            This is where Brent enters. Brent is renown for his well-formed aerodynamically superior spitballs. It’s one of his many behavior tics. Brent is 14, going on 35, tall, slim and definitely girl bait. He probably dabbles in drugs you’ve never heard of, and about which you can’t say anything because school policy states that you describe behaviors not their causes. When Brent’s high, he looses all sense of consequence and everything is hilarious. At a party, he might be cool, but on the bus, he and his spitballs are dangerous annoying, humiliating—to you, not him—and unsanitary. You’re sure he’s high on the day of the field trip.

            You’re prepared with plastic bags for trash and puke, food bars for the hungry, extra water for the thirsty, wet wipes and sanitizing gel for the sloppy and safety pins for, well, just in case. You’re also equipped with that ubiquitous clipboard for behavior tracking and your cell phone for emergencies. You’ve got it covered.

            Not.

            Before the bus is out of the gate, the first spitball flies. You wait. Now there are more. You check the spitballs. They have the Brent “signature,” large, well-formed and dripping spit, the Brentballs. You move behind Brent whom you’ve placed in the middle of the bus. You’ve done this so, if you have to sit by him, you can observe your kids, who are distributed throughout the bus with the other teachers’ kids to the front and rear of the bus, by the special biology that endows teachers with eyeballs in the back of their heads. You hope the chaperones placed strategically throughout the bus stay awake. You hope the other two teachers, including the team leader, are watching kids with you.

            Then it starts.

            Samantha wails she’s is so hungry she’ll throw up if you don’t give her a yogurt bar right now. Taking your eyes off Brent for just this one minute, you dig in your bag. Next, Jeremiah needs his chocolate bar fix for bringing back his permission form. Another stolen moment from Brent observation. Then, Avery claims his Baby Ruth for bringing his mother to chaperone. When you look back at Brent, his smile is angelic. You shift your attention, only just slightly, to the others—Takala, Desirea, Rosa.

And on.

            Two bathroom stops, one puke stop and a, well, just because Alva is the boss stop, the bus finally clunks over the ruts and into the fairground parking lot. The bus is sogged with Brentballs. Alva is seething. You know they’re Brent’s. The kids and the other teachers know it too. Only Brent seems oblivious. You’re dismayed. You were hawk-eyeing Brent the whole time. Well almost all the time. Again, you wonder how he does it.

            What do you do now?

            Come back next Monday to Is This Your Kid right here on my website blog to find out how I handled it. Weigh in on what you think of my solution to the spitball dilemma. Love it? Hate it? Have a better solution? Remember, every voice counts.

 

 

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Spitball Solution

     The spitball dilemma is not an esoteric, abstraction. It’s a right here, right now problem and thoroughly in your court. You have a second or two, three at the most, to come up with a solution. Quick you check your food bar supply. The minute the bus comes to a stop, you leap up, nearly knocking the kid on your left off her seat. With a wet wipe, you pick up the nearest spitball. With your other hand, you tap Brent on the shoulder. “Come to my office, please,” you say in the sweetest tone you can muster. “Come to my office” is the line you’ve used with kids for months to discuss anything from “Do you need lunch money today?” to “I heard you smacked Samantha in the lunch line so now we need to fix the damage” The “office” is anywhere you can move away from the other kids—outside the classroom door, to the side of the recess field, to a corner of the cafeteria… You get the idea. The kids know by now you will not embarrass them in front of the class and that often these little trips to the office are for an extra treat or “I caught you being good” slip they can take to parents to exchange for privileges like extra computer time at home.
     You wave your hand to signal to that you need a conference before everyone storms the bus exit door, careful to make meaningful eye-contact with the team leader. She gets it. “Slight delay,” you shout.
     Brent grins his loopy grin, hand half out for the treat. You lead him to the front of the bus. Alva can hear every sigh, every breath, every word.
     You address the bus riders, “Brent has a very quick problem up here. We need a private minute.”
     Kids understand what “private moment” means, usually a bathroom emergency they want no part of. They stall at their seats, grumbling and peering over each other’s shoulders. The other teachers rolls their eyes. The chaperones crane to hear.
     “Brent, we have a serious problem.”
     Brent is all sympathy and nonchalance.
     You hold out the wet wipe with the spitball.
     “This is the finest specimen of a spitball in the United States. If I had a medal, I would award it to you right his minute.”
     Alva huffs in disgust.
     Brent’s smile grows loopier.
     “What we all need, is to preserve these spitballs for posterity.”
     You hold out the plastic bag and a fresh wet wipe.
     “Before we leave the bus, every Brentball needs to be in this bag.”
     You let it sink in. Slowly, slowly recognition dawns. Brent is very smart. His behavior is what lands him in special education not his learning ability. That and his little drug problem that nobody talks about because his parents donate heavily to school projects and go to the same church as the guidance counselor and principal.
     “We need to keep them safe till the championship spitball contest next Friday.”
     You’ve made this up on the spot.
     Brent perks up, takes the wet wipe and deposits it into the plastic bag.
     Waving maniacally, you address everyone else.
     “There’s a food bar for the first ten volunteers to help Brent preserve his spitballs for the contest next Friday. You know the one we planned for math. They nod. It always works. Immediately fifteen hands shoot up. You select the ten nearest and pass out wet wipes.
     You hold out the bag for everyone to see. “Every single one in this bag and we can leave the bus.”
     It’s amazing how fast kids can work when the sounds of the fairgrounds are beckoning through the windows.
     The kids unload from the bus and form into groups with their teacher or chaperone. The team leader looks at you like you’ve definitely overstepped your authority. You peek back inside the bus. Alva scans the floor, looks at you and grunts. It’s the closest to a smile you’ll ever get.
     As soon as you can get Brent aside, you say as casually as you can manage, “When we’re back on the bus, I’ll remind you of our agreement that there will be no more spitballs on the way home. Or no championship contest on Friday.”
He doesn’t bat an eye, doesn’t mention you never talked about an agreement, just grins that loopy grin.
 
Would this work for your kid?
What might you do differently?
How about another problem and how you solved it or just write about a problem you need help with.
  1. 2.  The Trust Factor

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You’ve found in life, both in your own experience and by observing others, that before you can learn from someone, you have to believe what they say. In other words you have to trust that what they are telling you is true. It works out in many ways for anyone who teaches and anyone who learns whether in a classroom for typical students or in a classroom for students with special needs. Or at home. Or in the workplace. Or, like many kids, in and out of foster care.
Samantha was in foster care. Then back at home. Then in foster care again. Then her mother was released from prison. You don’t know what for and don’t ask. Samantha’s back with her mother now and started with you last week. She’s 14 and in 7th grade. The period where she is scheduled has eight other students ranging in age from eleven to 16. Their reading and writing skills range from emergent, which you know to be a virtual non-reader, up to grade level. Samantha refuses to write in her journal, your major vehicle for daily spontaneous writing and the backbone of your language arts program. This is necessary because you have no books that cover your students’ range of skills and their regular education class assignments are rarely at an appropriate reading or writing level. The daily journal focuses on interest-based writing that is self generated. It can be a topic, a diary writing, or anything a student wants it to be as long as it gets words and sentences on the page.
Samantha, like your other students, can also choose from a menu of topics you provide daily:
Write seven sentences about the funniest thing your grandmother ever did (your mother, your father, your brother or sister, your teacher.

Write seven sentences about your favorite movie.

Write about your favorite childhood toy.

Write about your pet

Write about your favorite color

And on

It’s not that simple, of course. You know you’ll have to tease out the details and prompt with starter sentences and give her a model or two of what others have done well but everybody likes to write about themselves, right?

Wrong.
Because for many of the students you work with, telling even one more secret about their lives, even if it’s only their favorite color, can be used against them to prove something bad about them or trick them or make them do something they don’t want to do. Or that’s what they seem to think. And you understand. Personal information is all they have.
But still you need Samantha to write, to feel the language, to learn to use it to express herself and communicate so you entice any way you can: stickers, small candies, being first in line to leave at the bell, free time to use the computer or a personal device, and on.         
These don’t work either.
After Samantha is with you for a few weeks, you ask her point blank why she won’t write, imagining she won’t even answer. But she surprises you by answering.
“I don’t want you to read it.”
Simple. She doesn’t trust how I’ll use what she writes.
Come back soon to Is This Your Kid right here on my website blog to find out how I handled it and weigh in on what you think of my solution to the trust dilemma. Love it? Hate it? Have a better solution? Remember, every voice counts.
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Trust Solution

As if she hadn’t just refused to write, I slip a new journal in front of Samantha.
“I need you to write. You don’t have to show it to anyone and you can keep it in your backpack at the end of the period as long as you bring it back every day. You write and I’ll stand on the other side of the room. Hold up the page when you’re finished and I’ll mark a check.” I thump her name on my clipboard where I record everyone’s progress on the day’s agenda items.
I show her a sample of what the writing should look like and explain how she can still earn an “A” for the period with the other work she completes.
She smirks. She smirks at everything she doesn’t trust, like I’m a con artist and she’s on to me.
“Write for fifteen minutes.”
She smirks.
“Yes. I need fifteen minutes of writing from you, just like everyone else.”
She doodles. Then erases it, making a hole in the page.
“After your journal, work on the rest of the agenda for the day.”
She fingers the binding of the journal.
From the other side of the room, I say, “A star when you finish your journal.”
Kids earn stars for every completed task. Stars are traded for privileges, like being first in line when the bell rings, using the best computer for personal research, free time for drawing with special pencils and markers, small hard candies, anything I can afford they’ll work for. All the kids know this. Even Samantha.
Day after day, we do the drill. Samantha hovers over her journal for fifteen minutes, holds it up and I mark the task finished on my clipboard. Day after day, she squirrels her journal away in the vastness of her backpack. The next day she pulls it out again. Day after day, I don’t look at what she’s written—just as I promised.
Some days I wonder if she’s written anything other than random words. To supplement, I give her word lists and comprehension exercises that require complete sentence answers and lament the lost sense of accomplishment that cumulative writing about chosen topics brings to other kids.
Something else begins to happen. Increment by tiny increment, Samantha expands her sentence responses to the dull comprehension questions.
“Choose one energy source and list an advantage and a disadvantage.”
Samantha answers. “Solar cost 2 much. I dunt lik solar cuz I git sunborn last week. It’s no good for 2 hol day. My mom dint hav $ for medchine. No gas 2. We are sad. Today is sunny. That is okay.”
One day, we talk about the solar and whether or not the school should have panels installed over the parking lot. She tells me solar is for rich people and asks if the school is rich. The importance of these conversations is not that she answer the questions in textbook correctness, but that she starts to think on her own and expresses it. If we can communicate honestly, she will have more questions. Her desire to engage will kindle intrinsic rewards and explode into unstoppable motivation to learn. That’s the hope.
Another day Samantha reads a short passage about caves and answers the question about what hangs out in caves.
“Ma pay rent lat to landladie. Ony 1 week. That old bat hangs out in hour porch. She shud be in caves.”
Her spelling improves and her sentences lengthen. Her attitude shouts through. I wonder if she knows how much she’s revealing. I never comment just give her the correct spelling of the words and ask her to recopy with the corrections.
The end of the semester arrives. Samantha asks for a new journal. When she leaves for the holiday break, I discover her filled journal on my desk. She’s decorated it with a bow and a sticky, which says, “Merry Christmas, Ms. Willis.”
She’s just given me the most precious gift she can and taught me way more than I’ll ever teach her about how things work.
I plan her next semester’s work as if she’ll return.
Would this work for your kid?
What might you do differently?
How about another problem and how you solved it or just write about a problem you need help with.

3. Potty Talk For Teens: The Head Flusher

Ingenious! I wish all problems were as simple as the one in the video. And. That class sizes were this small,  Or maybe not?
     I have this kid. I bet you know him.
Every period Dylan is with me he “needs” to use the bathroom. I check with his other teachers. The same. I don’t call his father because of the black eye Dylan came in with after I called about the butt-crack jokes. Sharon, his mom, says, “Dylan has a condition. I’ll send you a note from the doctor and we’ll have another meeting.” The note never comes. I call again.
“Oh yeah,” Sharon says. “I’ll get that note right in to you and maybe we don’t need a meeting?”
I have forty gazillion other meetings to set up so I let it hang.
Today, Dylan’s in my room during noon break. It’s my first sit-down lunch in three weeks. He’s propped his butt on a lab table in my butchered science-lab/special-education classroom and swings his half-off sneakers in widening circles. Boy-feet aroma mixes with my microwaved leftovers. He starts strumming his air guitar. He thumps his laceless, sockless sneakers against the back of a chair to the beat in his head. Coordinates his hand movements. He’s all cool and nonchalant except for the tic at the corner of his eye.
“What’s up?” I’m nonchalant too.
Dylan struggles out the words. “J-Jer-e-miah-says I gave him my fingerboard. For his c-crackers. I d-din, din, did not.” He drops his air guitar pose, grips the edge of the table. “It was only a h-half bag… All busted. I just l-loaned the board.” His sneaker, nearly off now, whap, whap-whaps at the chair. “I said give it b-back and h-he said he’d head-flush me.” Dylan makes a strangling sound, like his head is already in the toilet. “I c-c-can’t go to lunch. I can’t go to the bathroom. Never.” He eyes the computers. “I-I n-need to stay here. L-look up s-stuff for my guitar. I won’t b-bother you.”
Dylan’s just told me that he and Jeremiah had a deal that went bad over the exchange of a box of crackers for a fingerboard. A fingerboard’s a thumb-sized skateboard. In class kids flip these replicas over, under and around their desks or on little ramps constructed from paper, notebooks and pencils. Dylan’s is his number two prize possession, only one notch below his brand new iPhone. Sale or loan to Jeremiah, whatever, it makes no difference. I want Dylan to go to the bathroom when he “needs” to and I want him not to be my lunch buddy.
Now, What Dylan’s words say and what happened aren’t necessarily the same but on the off chance they are, we have an opportunity to learn better coping skills. Starting with Dylan not taking his treasures out of his pocket and Jeremiah not being a bully.
I tap my stomach. “Breathe deep here.” He knows the signal. I demonstrate three deep breaths. My still-hungry stomach growls and Dylan giggles. I grab a snack for each of us and we munch in silence for a few seconds, bonding over our food bars. “What we’re going to do,” I say, “is make a plan.” You remember how we…
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Head Flusher Solution

I think of the times Dylan has given me the finger behind my back, run a monologue, not quite under his breath, about boobs and butt cracks, turned the screws on my stapler backward, sneaked candy from behind my desk, chanted along with Jeremiah’s arguing binges and pretended to hock loogies outside my door before school. It takes almost more energy than I have not to hold these crimes against him.
“Here’s what we’ll do,” I say. “Tomorrow, you sit with Ms. Baines’ class in the cafeteria.”
Dylan nods.
“You tell everybody you have a job helping Ms. Baines.”
He gives me that 13-yr-old skeptical look.
“You can sit by Colella and help her with lunch.”
He doesn’t answer.
I soften my voice. “You like Colella, right?”
Everyone likes Colella, even students with learning disabilities—the elites of special education. Colella is so obviously disabled she makes them feel superior, but in a protective way. Kids’ll call each other, the schoolwork, the teachers, sometimes parents and, most certainly their siblings, “retard.” But never, ever Colella.
“When you finish eating with Collela, wheel her back and wait outside Ms. Baines’ door.”
He nods, still chewing.
“You’ll use the boy’s room,” I tell him, “first and fifth periods when you’re scheduled with me.”
The story from home is that Dylan’s on medication and needs to use the bathroom every two hours.
“All the other kids will be in classes so nobody will bother you.” I check to be sure he gets it. “You can use the bathroom right after lunch too.” He looks alarmed. “Ms. Baines will be looking out for you then.”
He settles back on the table.
Bonnie will do this because I’ve watched out for her Opal. Both the girls’ and boys’ rooms are steps from my door and I can hear Opal singing to hear the sound of her echo. It’s like she’s right in my room.
“That enough bathroom times, Dylan?”
He nods again.
“Keep eating with Ms. Baines’ class till you feel safe.”
More nodding.
“Tell everybody you’re her junior teacher’s assistant.”
Dylan’s food bar is gone and he gazes longingly toward the box. The clock runs faster.
“Now…” I move out from behind my desk and stand directly in front of him. “You want to tell me what you and Jeremiah really have going? Like why he’s head-flushing mad?”
Dylan shifts his gaze to the doorway.
“It’s way more than the fingerboard thing, isn’t it?”
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We’re back from lunch and kids are working on their individualized math skills.
“Jeremiah?” I’m standing behind him. “I need your help. Please. Step into my office.”
My “office” is the sidewalk outside the classroom.
Jeremiah eyes me like I’m a bug in a jar.
Dylan watches from his seat. Looks like he’ll throw up.
I’ve crafted this going-to-my-office thing to lure to kids off by themselves. Most often it’s to give them positive referrals—little notes of recognition for good behavior or to highlight special achievements. These positive referrals go home to parents who often give out extra privileges or treats when kids hand them over. So now kids come willingly to my “office,” not worried they’re in trouble.Jeremiah balls his fists. “Aw, that squeak!
I read to Jeremiah from his positive referral, “Excellent problem solving.” Then tease gently, “Head-flushing?” I move backwards through the open doorway, holding the referral just out of his reach. When he’s through the door, I hand him the referral.  “Earn this by helping me.
Jeremiah balls his fists. “Aw, that squeak! He can’t be talking ‘bout my sister. Can’t say she’s hot.”
“Did you threaten Dylan with head flushing?” Jeremiah’s manipulative, but honest.
“Yeah. But I dint do nothin’!” Jeremiah glares back through the open door. “Dylan better keep his mouth off my sister.”
I motion Dylan to come outside. He up slinks beside me and as far from Jeremiah as possible without running away.
“You two,” I say, “need to man up here. Do you know what slander means?”
“Yeah,” Dylan says. “Telling a mean lie. But I didn’t s-say it mean. Coral is h-hot—I mean pretty. P-pretty. You know?” His eyes plead, first with me, then Jeremiah.
Jeremiah puckers his lips. Considers. Then, all three of us stare into the distance. From inside the room the eavesdropping is palpable. The afternoon smells of sun and dust and Jeremiah’s latest girl-catcher hair gel mingle with Dylan’s sneaker-feet and my perfume.
“We can’t have threats,” I say to Jeremiah while holding out a positive referral to Dylan for cooperating. I extend it far enough in front of me that Dylan has to move closer to Jeremiah to reach it. “And what’s with the fingerboard thing?”
Jeremiah looks sheepish—but not at me directly. “Geesh. I was just kiddin’.” He levers Dylan’s wildly decorated little board from one of his many pockets, extends it to me. “Just kiddin,” he says again and punch-slaps Dylan on the arm.
Dylan takes it. Extends his fist for the bump. Jeremiah bumps it.
Those’re good enough apologies for me but I look sternly over my glasses, “And while we’re at it, Jeremiah, anything else in your pocket you want me to hold till the end of the day?
He fishes in the smallest of his pockets and pulls out a miniature Crimson Kris Markovich. He hands it over reluctantly.
“I’ll guard them with my life,” I say. And I will. “But, listen up. I’ll be watching both of you. For days. You hear?” I’ve said it to the backs of their heads.
Jeremiah leans in to Dylan. “Hottie, huh?”
Would this work for your kid?
What might you do differently?
How about another problem and how you solved it or just write about a problem you need help with.

 

4. Blindsight

Video thumbnail for Adapting Environments for Individuals with Vision Loss
Adapting Environments For Individuals With Vision Loss
(Click Link Below)

http://cdnapi.kaltura.com/index.php/extwidget/preview/partner_id/2017271/uiconf_id/34130341/entry_id/1_rgd7x6c4/embed/dynamic#t=00:01 Blind

            The lenses of Avery’s glasses, when he wears them, are so thick his eyes are floating disks in some underwater scene. He has Retinitis Pigmentosis, a rare genetic disease. This condition changes how the retina responds to light, making it hard to see. People with retinitis pigmentosa lose their vision slowly over time. Usually, though, they will not become totally blind. Avery loses the glasses every few months because, as he merrily tells me, he can’t see to find them. His poor mother despairs. She already works two jobs. How will she ever keep up with the cost?
            But Avery? He’s luckier than most. He can make out text on a whiteboard placed directly in front and about ten feet away if… If the print is large enough—about an inch tall. By holding his head at an angle six inches from his paper and scanning, he makes out diagrams and words magnified 3x. He hates his glasses, hates the magnification, hates anything that singles him out. Still, it’s amazing what he learns. He goes to the regular history class, bursts out the door, runs down to my special education classroom and blurts out all the main points as fast as he can rattle them off. His friend, Rosa follows him, waving her notes. I compare what Avery reports with what she’s written down. Nearly word perfect.
            But, how can I convince Avery’s teachers that Avery knows the material when he can’t read the test questions presented in their usual 12 point font? How can Avery demonstrate what he knows when he doesn’t see the paper well enough to write his answers? How can I even get him to use the magnified print when, to him, it’s too stark a reminder of his disability.
            And how do we treat the “lost glasses syndrome.”
  

Blindsight Strategies

           Avery remembers, almost word for word, everything he hears, a cool trick none of his friends can beat. He mimics voices, particularly his teachers, with near precision and does this in a tone low enough teachers won’t pick up but his buddies will. He keeps his peers in stitches. To teachers, he’s Bombast Boy, one minute polite and compliant and the next exploding with rage.
            My belief is that all teachers want their students to be successful and that any solution to any problem is as individual with teachers as it is for students. I promised Avery’s classroom teachers that I would make sneak observations of Avery in their classes and work with him to reduce the mocking and outbursts if they would let me have their tests a day early to magnify the print with enough copies for any of the kids who wanted to use them. One took me up on it.
            On the sly, I extracted promises from Avery’s buddies that they would use the large print tests so Avery wouldn’t be singled out. When Avery’s behavior leveled out, one incredibly cooperative teacher suggested on his own (can you imagine!?) that Avery could serve as the classroom Review King. Avery recited the main points at the end of class and the other kids checked their notes against Avery’s near-perfect memory. Avery got to have his “showtime” and the teacher got excellent student engagement in his review time.
            Another cooperative teacher agreed to let me to read the test to Avery in the special education classroom, then dictate the answers into his phone email and send for grading. Yet another teacher agreed to appoint Avery as the team fact-checker in group projects. By working with teachers to find solutions that worked for Avery and were simultaneously acceptable to them, Avery’s student behaviors, as well as his academic performance, improved.
            We were now collaborative.
            There is no magic with this process. It takes time and listening thoroughly. When it yields measurable results for teachers and improves their own teaching success rates, they’ll give it a shot. Success leads to success.
            At his IEP meeting, Avery “read” from memory the strategies recommended for his disability. This was the major coup and took weeks of persuasion and rehearsal for Avery to even attend, let alone present. But here’s what that looked like.
  • Provide good lighting and high illumination of work area
  • Provide extra time to complete tasks.
  • Provide large print, high contrast and audiotape materials
  • Provide location near the board or demonstrations to compensate          for reduced visual fields
  • Provide student with black felt pen or marker for writing
  • Avoid glare in student work area
  • Aid student in adjusting to changes in lighting.
Within days after his IEP meeting, every one of Avery’s teachers agreed to give me their quizzes and tests in advance to be magnified and printed. These were made available to any student who wanted and guess what? Avery passed them out!
Could this work for you?