December 5, 2022- The winsome, but giddy, girl asked why I was walking away from her and her friend: “Don’t you like us?” I reassured her that they were very much liked, but I didn’t want to be seen as hovering. That satisfied her, though they sought attention in other ways, for the rest of the class, including by trying to hide a cell phone-which she insisted was not there, until it fell on the floor.
Eleven and twelve year olds can be expected to try and hide the obvious. Being recognized, in the midst of the change from child to adolescent, is a comfort-even when everyone concerned knows that the means to that recognition is ludicrous. After I played along, for a bit, with the cell phone ruse, they got more serious and asked for help with an assignment-related problem.
Special needs children, on the other hand, especially those who are in the “Severe and profound” category, are unable to hide anything-especially their non-verbal cues. The only way many can communicate is with their bodies-stiffening up, going dead weight, yelling, trying to run away. They are being very obvious about saying that something in the situation upsets or frightens them. Misreading their cues, or responding with an old-school “Just give him a good old-fashioned swat”, will do one thing: It will widen the chasm even further. It is instructive that a new teacher has relieved an older teacher, who believes in corporal punishment, of her duties-after the older woman lashed out at a special needs child. The child has challenges, but has not, historically, learned from physical or loud verbal chastisement.
The obvious, with me, is that I love others’ children, as if they were my own. So is it best to give them constant, and consistent, guidance and encouragement- placing limits and channeling behaviour, as much as possible. That can best be accomplished by not clinging to past violent methods-but following a much more rigourous path of constant teaching and modeling respectful behaviour-and expecting it be returned in kind.
I choose not to hide the obvious.
Thank you for your service to those needing to learn.
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It’s my honour.
Glad that teaching methods are evolving…
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Yes, most of us are seeing children as sensitive, complicated beings.
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