Sunday, March 29, 2015

"They Don't Understand What We're Saying"

Last week I had a new instructional assistant start in my classroom. Since I run my room completely different than 95% of the other classes in my program, retraining them from their bad habits is at the top of my list. Although in the beginning most will miss the freedom they had, it's only a matter of time until they "buy in" to my beliefs. Though I have not been 100% successful in making this happen hence why I'm getting a new aide, I really had faith that this guys was going to work out great. 

First off, I have a list of expectations I hand out and we went over it together. One of the biggest rules I have with myself and my staff is that I run my classroom as if my boss, or a parent is standing inside the door. I run it as if my child or their child were one of my students. Now this doesn't mean we don't have fun, because my kids are great fun and we have great times. But I do want my classroom to be a professional environment all the time. My kids deserve that. 

So does this work? Mostly yes. My work likes to move our IA's around a lot and even though they will deny this, I believe some are put into my rooms because they need "structure" and I have "structure". It seems every year I finally get everyone on board and then the new school year starts and I have to start all over again with new IA's. I do seem to have better success with ones who are also parents as I think they can put their own child in the place of our students and they know what they would want for them. We meet bi-monthly for an hour and because we are a team I really love their ideas and input and we use them often. This is also the time I bring up any issues I see happening. I also bribe them. I bring them little snacks or lunch a couple times a month and send home fun little things my kids do that their kids can as well. All this to make sure they know how much I appreciate them. I also thank them every day when they leave for their help. People who feel appreciated are much better workers.

So, the reasoning for this post was that during a conversation with my new IA last week, while talking about having private conversations in front of kids, he told me that he completely understands since my kids are "verbal" and they know what's going on. But..... the basic life skills class, from which he came from, it wasn't such a big deal he said, since the kids were non-verbal and didn't understand what the staff was saying. Now this is where I wanted to SCREAM! I immediately asked him to set up the projector and screen and went to my computer to find this wonderful video clip I keep on hand for this exact occasion. He sat quietly for 10 minutes and watched the video. He probably wouldn't appreciate me telling you this, but he cried. I saw him wipe tears. He is a father, he understands. I think he's going to work out great.

So, here is the link to the video. It's only 10 minutes long and it should be seen by EVERYONE who works with special kids. This is not an isolated case, I have seen it over and over for many years. It really makes you think.

Father and daughter win struggle with Autism

Take care, 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

College Classes on Campus

I wanted to share with you something pretty cool that's been going on in our program for the last few years. Cal State University is about 10 miles from our school. As you can see from the picture I pulled from the internet, one of the required classes for their Physical Education B.S. degree is a class called "Adaptive Physical Education". It just so happens that my program is full of kids who love physical education! So, apparently someone talked to someone and from there an amazing opportunity was born! 

Here's how it works. The first half of the year the college students are on their own campus learning about adaptive PE and planning fun and exciting activities that kids with special needs might enjoy. The second half of the year the teacher and her students use our quad area as their classroom. We send out 4 classes a week (40 kids) and let them take over. They are there for a full hour and every week there are new, fun activities they rotate the kids through. From freebie's to obstacle courses, beach balls and bean bags. They bring a TON of stuff and the kids always have a blast!

The college kids are just amazing and they are so sweet and kind with our kids. I stood and talked to their teacher yesterday when they were there and she said that her students brainstorm and come up with all their own ideas for the activities and that's why they are never the exact same each year. I thought I would share this on the off chance that your school or class may have the same opportunity available to you in your community. I hope you look into it as it is such a great experience for all of the students, ours and theirs.

Take care,