Thursday, March 05, 2009

Out of my comfort zone?

This week at I observed in the morning on Monday, and I learned and observed so much, I almost wish I could've taken notes. :) I arrived in time to be a part of their fourth rotation in the classroom. They  have it organized so that each child is pulled from the group for "teacher time" twice a a week, four of the kids are Monday/Wednesday, and four at Tuesday/Thursday. Since there are four rotations, one of the Monday/Wednesday kids was in teacher time, and the rest of the group had calendar time. We sang a song about the days of the week, and my co-op used visuals for the students to point to the different day as it was sung, then they used the Tech Talk Communication Device, so the kids could choose the correct day, and have the device speak the word they chose back to them. It was fun to see the excitement when they consciously chose the right answer. We went through the same thing with the months of the year, singing a song and they asking them to choose the correct month. 

After the fourth rotation, they have "song time" with everyone in the classroom, and all the aids. This is the only activity that they can all do together, because several of the children have trouble sitting for long amounts of time, and one of the little boys is not always able to do the other group times. We sang Old McDonald had a farm, and the Steelers song. The kids LOVE song time and were clapping their hands and smiling, even the kids who seemed usually out of it, were involved. Then it was time for lunch. Not all the children in my room go to lunch, one little girl is on a special diet and has to eat food from home, and one boy never eats at school, so they just stayed in the classroom. I went to the lunch room and observed what was going on. 
It is still amazing to me that every little activity has an objective to help them achieve it at a higher degree. Objectives including using silverware, cleaning up after themselves, trying something they don't like, drinking from the cup, drinking from a straw, the list is endless. At the end of lunch, I helped two boys clean up, both are usually independent, but that wasn't quite what happened to me. The first boy did very well and dumped his leftover food into the garbage and then put his plate in the dirty dishes pile, but the other was having a bad day, and when he went to dump his leftover food into the garbage, he through the entire plate in and I had to get the tongs and pull it out. That made for a little excitement and not having any idea how to handle what happened on my part, but it worked out and I think I will be able to help clean up from lunch better next time. 

Last, I want to point out that my co-op doesn't consider herself superior to the aids, but she treats them as equals, asks for their advice and rotates on the schedule just like they do. The schedule is a list of the different responsibilities that need to be completed each day, like bath-rooming, teacher time, calendar time,  work and bus duty, etc. Each week they switch, so that they are doing something different. My co-op explained that it helps her see the classroom from all the different perspectives and to work on objectives in every situation. Obviously, she does all the lesson planning, the data collection and writes the evaluations for the students, but her attitude towards the aids has a great result in the classroom. When she was on her lunch period, I had an opportunity to talk with one of the aids about how that made her feel, and I think that is something I definitely want to incorporate into my classroom. 

Monday, March 02, 2009

James 1:2

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 

Friday, February 20, 2009

Lessons From a Classroom

This past Tuesday I observed at Watson's for the second time. My teacher talked to me a lot about the motivators they use in her classroom to help the students accomplish schools tasks and jobs. This is used the most in the morning, when I am not there. She explained to me how the students do school and have one task they do not enjoy followed by an activity they do enjoy. The biggest motivator in her classroom, is food, but my co-op tries to use other things to motivate the kids. Sometimes its surprising how a little thing like shredding paper -- can be a motivator. The example of this that I was able to observe was in connection with a little boy. They set up a system for him, so that when he gets five smiley faces, he may go and visit someone in the school (the gym teacher, or one of the faculty.) He loves visiting with adults and is so excited to do something that will earn him a smiley face. Because it is a school just for special needs children, this system works well because someone is always available to hang out with him and do something special. 
The second thing I observed and learned about on Tuesday was the different objectives being worked on in a simple task. Let me explain, I attended a special which included going to the library with four of the kids from my class. The librarian read a book, and then they worked  on folders. The purpose of the book reading was not just so they could hear the story, it also was teaching them to sit still and follow directions. The folders were a matching game that required them to communicate, imitate, follow directions, use their fine motor skills and organizational skills. Its not just a simple story and matching game anymore, it is a activity preparing them for life. 
Finally, I find it amazing how many options and solutions my co-op has in her head. If the child does not react or follow the directions well the first time, she can switch plans, and try a different strategy that is in agreement with what she is teaching. This has been such a great experience for me so far, and I am excited to see what I will learn next! :)


Do you ever have moments where you remember circumstances that went one direction and because of that direction changed your life? Do you ever wonder if the circumstances had gone the other direction what your life would be like right now? Its a weird thought for me, because I feel God has put lots of decisions in my path that have overwhelming impacted the outcome. He has changed my heart and my life, and even though it hasn't been easy, its amazing to be where I am today. This is a reflective post, just because today I was thinking about one particular circumstance that if it had gone another direction would've affected everything... anyway, that's the end. My life is a testimony to God's grace and love. 

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

An Observation:

Today I observed at the Watson Institute a school for special needs students. It is a requirement as an education student at Geneva to get an idea of what being a teacher entails before completing all the necessary courses. I was very excited about it because I get to do my special education observation before my elementary education observation. My co-op teacher at Watson's has a room with eight autistic children between the ages of eight and eleven, they are at different levels within a preschool / kindergarden grade. All the students are non-verbal, which means they communicate mostly through sign-language and picture exchange which I will explain in a moment. My co-op is the primary teacher and there are two full-time helpers and one part-time assistant. 

When I arrived, they were in the middle of "socialization time". This time stressed objectives such as communication, recreational skills, peer interaction and turn taking, I was included right into the structure of the afternoon and was interacting with the kids from the beginning. Next, we had a snack. In the classroom, each student has a picture book that contain icons. These icons help them communicate what they cannot communicate with words. For example, they have a rectangular board with velcro on it. The kids can pick the icon for "I want" and the icon for "pretzels", stick both on the rectangular board and when it is their turn they can ask for it. Not all the children were able to do this, but I was very impressed by the several children who could.  :) 

After snack, the children attended specials. Next week, I will be able to go with them, but today I spoke with the supervisor and my co-op explained some about her lesson plans and about the regular schedule. I was so excited when I came back to campus, I think this is going to be a great experience, I am so excited to see how the rest of the classroom works and to learn more about autistic children. :) 

The Girl with only ONE pearl earring.

I feel very un-responsible, and have an overwhelmingly uncharacteristic sense of loss. Today, would have been like any other day I wore those earrings. I wanted to look a little nicer for my student observation, and they reminded me of my family. Plus, they give me a certain air that I like. Its classy, just like my mom, like Shannon and like Avery to wear pearls. 

Sadly, at the end of today, I only possess one pearl earring. Somewhere between my rushing out the door, my trip to the library and my classes this morning I have lost one pearl earring. Maybe what is most distressing is that it was an entrusted gift that I did not guard with my life. I was probably supposed to wear those earrings for my wedding and now, I cannot. How distressing. How very saddening. I almost cried. What is maybe even more sorrowful, is that I don't think anyone would turn in a lone pearl earring. They would not know the love, the care and the memories that are attached to that one pearl. I apologize mom, for losing that gift. I am praying that somehow it will appear in an unexpected place. 

The end. 

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Following your heart?

"The heart never takes the place of the head: but it can, and should, obey it."

--The Abolition of Man, C.S. Lewis

There have only been a few times in my life that I truly remember not listening to what my heart was telling me. The first time I really remember it, was the night before I left for China. My friends had thrown a huge surprise party for me, which was awesome, and then they asked me if I wanted to spend the night, which of course I did. I remember thinking that I should go home and spend time with my mom and sister - who were the only ones home that night - instead of staying with my friends, but I didn't. Even today, my heart almost hurts thinking that I didn't spend that time with my mom that I could have. It makes me sad.

Unfortunately, just because I have only a few memories of not listening to my heart, does not mean that my heart doesn't try tell me more. My problem is listening to my head and doing what I want to do, instead of listening to my conscience. In retrospect, I can see this especially in high-school. A lot of things that should have bothered me about myself, and about what I put up with in others did not bother me, and even if it did, I remember ignoring it. Thankfully though, I can say that looking back at last semester and seeing this semester, God has been working in my heart, and is bringing back that sensitive conscience.

I am learning, like C.S. Lewis says I should, to obey my heart. It is my prayer that my heart may be bursting with Christ's love and grace.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

2 Corinthians 6:3-10

"We put no stumbling block in anyone's path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the life; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors, known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything."

This is a beautiful reflection of how we should feel about our Christian walk.  We must commend ourselves in every way, to share the same gospel with those around us. The challenge is to let our light, and to show our confidence in Christ, through hardships like the ones listed: beatings, imprisonments, dishonor, bad reports, being regarded as an impostor, sorrow, yet through it all, rejoicing. I loved the end especially, "having nothing, and yet possessing everything." For me, these verses are almost life verses. I have not felt all of those, but pain has been a part of my life, for me, but also for my friends and family. I truly realize that I possess everything when I am in fellowship with Christ. And that is where my heart strives to be. 

Saturday, January 24, 2009

In battle the victory goes to Love;
Prizes and properties fall to Love.
Love dallies the night
On a girl's soft cheeks,
Ranges across the sea,
Lodges in wild meadows.
O Love, no one can hide from you:
You take gods who live forever,
You take humans who die in a day
And they take you and go mad.