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.