. Regurgitated Alpha Bits: May 2012

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Short Sighted

Our fun little guy from this post has struck again.

He left school early the other day to get his eyes checked, and I guess they had to dilate them. They gave him those crazy old man sunglasses to put on to protect them from the bright sun for the next few hours.

Or days.


He came to school the next day, a full 18 hours after his eye dilation, claiming that his eye doctor insisted he wear them.

In perpetuity evidently, because he "can't see."

Before he even told us this, we saw him coming, gigantic glasses crookedly perched on his face, hands trailing along the wall like a man walking in the dark.

When he got to a hallway that he needed to cross, he put his hands out in front of him to ensure he didn't walk into anything now that he didn't have the security of the wall to protect him.

Once back to the wall, he made his way to one of our classrooms and stumbled in.

How he knew which room was correct or that we were even in there, since he was blind and all, are questions he could not answer.

We told him he needed a doctor's note for the glasses, but he insisted that he couldn't see. My partner made a deal with him that he could wear them for the first hour, but then the glasses had to go because they would be a huge distraction.

Then the kid asked to borrow a cane from the visually impaired classroom, since he needed one too now.

(THAT little gem was his mother's idea.)

We said no.

The first hour came and went, but Ray Charles wouldn't give up the glasses.

After hour two, I called my student teacher to tell her that he couldn't be on the playground if he "couldn't see," so send him to the office for recess. I was hoping boredom would persuade him to take them off.

She said that as we were talking on the phone, he was busy reading braille on the door signs.

I popped in the office at recess to see if I could get him to lose the glasses, and as I walked in he was reading the lunch menu on the wall.

Until he saw me. 

Then he began "reading" it with his hands.

It's not in braille.

No luck though. The glasses were staying on.

During his next class, they were working on computers. He just pretended to type while looking at the ceiling.

And he was moaning and swaying back and forth like Stevie Wonder on the piano.

Which made me mad. 

We have visually impaired students at our school, many of whom have been integrated into my classroom over the years. Their tenacity and spunk is to be admired. They keep up with their classmates despite the fact that they can't see well, or at all, and never complain.

And none of them moan.

His impression of a visually impaired student was disrespectful and he now officially crossed a line with me.

So I arranged with the teacher of the visually impaired class (who is also visually impaired) to meet with him. I was hoping he would set the kid straight about how rude, inappropriate and disrespectful his behavior was.

Luckily, his "vision" was better than mine when it came to handling this kid because he did better than that. He had him help teach a child with no vision how to do math. And he showed him all the tools they use to help the students be successful in a regular classroom. And he introduced him to his service dog and explained how she helps keep him safe out in a world he can't see very well. 

And he made him appreciate the gift that his vision is. 

Our young man took his glasses off when he left the room and we haven't seen them since.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Taking Notes

Remember Howard?

Well, Howard got in trouble.


He and another student, who rarely gets in trouble, decided at lunch the other day to twist ketchup packets  so that they would explode out of both ends onto other students sitting at the lunch tables.

I was disappointed.

To say the least.

And I made it clear.

As a consequence, for the next two days they had to eat in a primary room and then head out to the lunch tables after everyone left to clean all the tables and sweep the floor.

If you're gonna make a mess, you're sure as heck gonna learn not to by cleaning up a mess.

Or everyone's messes.

I also talked to the other kid's mom when she arrived at dismissal.




She ASSURED me this wouldn't happen again.

And I believe her!

Nobody picks Howard up, so I told him that when he got home he needed to write his mom a note explaining what he had done, talk to mom and get the note signed.

I also said that if I didn't have the signed note the next day, I would be walking him home again but this time I would stay and talk to his mother.

Did I believe he would follow through?

Well, I wore sneakers the next day, if that's any indication.

I walked right up to Howard in my sneakers the next morning...

and he handed my a signed note.

HE DID IT!!!!!

He actually did it, and seeing that made me want to cry.

I swept him up in a big hug, gushing over how proud I was of him.

In the past, Howard would have run from his consequences.

This time, he owned them.

This is HUUUUGE for Howard!

I hope this is, in part, a product of all the effort my teaching partners and I have put into trying to convince him that there is nothing he can do that would make us not like him, that we will be fair, and that we are a safe place to land when he makes a mistake.

He beamed in the glow of all the praise. It was true pride that he felt because he made a good choice instead of following his old path of avoidance.

I hope we all try not to focus on the mistakes our Howards make. Our Howards are going to make ten an hour. Let's focus instead on how we respond to those kids. Respond to the kids, not the mistakes. They are, after all, just kids and now is the time for them to make mistakes.

I think it works.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Who Cares

State testing starts next week! In our classrooms, we've been pumping up the kids, assuring them that they really can do well, and we mean it. They CAN do it.

Our principal held a kick-off assembly to get the students excited about testing. Queen pounded through the speakers and push-up ice cream was handed out to reinforce that we're gonna "push up" to our API goal. The kids loved it.

Of course we believe our kids can do it! They can do anything. Especially with the support of their parents...

Anyone else hear crickets chirping?