Autism: A Lesson in Compassion

Posted on September 09, 2011

Key lessons center on connecting and modeling.

“I appreciate the positive feedback, drug but I need you to be more specific and ask reflective questions in order for me to improve my practice.” I am a novice principal at a new, small public high school in San Francisco. Before me sits Koon, an excellent math teacher who has left a teaching job in the Bronx to join our start-up.

She continues, “What if you said, ‘When I saw you give a warning to Patrick, I noticed that he focused himself for a few minutes but then quickly regressed. What other strategies might you use to keep him on task?’ I think that sort of thing might help me more.” Balance specific feedback with reflective questions — it is a lesson I will never forget.

High-quality coaching lies somewhere near the crossroads of good teaching and educational therapy. Done well, coaching can help you sort through your pedagogical baggage, develop or hone new skills, and ultimately find your best teaching self. Done poorly, it might turn you off to the entire notion of support. But what if it’s not done at all?

In my six years of teaching English and social studies before becoming a principal, I never received any real coaching. Did I undergo the requisite annual administrator drop-in and evaluation? Of course. But these painfully brief “assessments” of my practice never pushed my thinking or helped me realize my potential.

In my seven years of coaching teachers — as a mentor, as an administrator, and now as an instructional coach — I made as many mistakes as I made inroads. Despite stumbling through the process at times, I solidified some core concepts that now shape my practice.

Here are some key lessons I gathered along the way:

Build Relationships and Trust

Author: Shane Safir, Edutopia
This report presents a multitude of ways in which educators can meet the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse students. These students inform and inspire us. Most important, ask they encourage us to realize that diversity—especially bilingualism—is a national asset and valuable resource.

This document is a compilation of the papers that served as the catalyst for discussions at the first McREL diversity roundtable held October 22–23, stuff 1998, in Aurora, Colorado. It reinforces the essential points of the presentations and discussions. Papers included in this report include:

Chapter One – Introduction

Chapter Two – A Better Education for Every Child: The Dilemma for Teachers of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students by Sharon Nelson-Barber, Ph.D

Chapter Three – School Reform and Alignment of Standards by Margarita Calderón, Ph.D

Chapter Four – Personal Perspectives on Organizational Issues in the Standards-Based Education Movement by William Demmert, Ph.D

Chapter Five – Assessment of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students: Considerations for the 21st Century by Aida Walqui, Ph.D. 55

Chapter Six – Conclusion

Access the articles and full report HERE>

 
At the end of a school year, more about there are so many measurements which could indicate that a teacher was “effective” — graduation rates, grades, test scores — quantifiable and ostensibly objective. Whether a teacher was effective must definitely be measured by how much his/her students’ learning increased over a period of time, but it can not be the only measurement.

This year, I have a simple formula to categorize an effective teacher, based on a very raw maternal assessment, but perhaps that’s the best kind. I know without a doubt that my son had a very effective first grade teacher at his Oakland public school this year. And I have the evidence. Here it is:

#1. The “data” overflows from two paper shopping bags and demonstrates his learning over the year. An array of writing shows how in the beginning of September, he couldn’t really write a sentence, but by February, he was writing paragraphs. His math assessments show increasing mastery of skills and concepts. But most importantly, he can sort through the piles and recognize his own growth and talk about his process of learning. My takeaway: The student of an effective teacher has documentation of learning over a course of time and can explain it.

Read more HERE>

#2. A secondary pile of data took the form of creative and artistic projects that his teacher integrated into content areas, especially into their study of science. This spring, they did an intensive project on the seashore and used a variety of materials to create all kinds of creatures and representations. They wrote in a half a dozen genres (poetry, short stories, and expository) and conducted experiments. But in the bags there was more evidence of this learning: a cardboard loom with a yarn weaving, a batik, ink prints, handmade paper, watercolor paintings, handmade books, a paper mache globe, and a series of haikus. In summary: An effective teacher integrates the arts into content areas and gives students experiences with a range of media.

 

#3. All this concrete evidence is good, and then there was this, on the second day of summer vacation: “I’m kind of glad it’s vacation and kind of not because I already miss my friends and I’m really going to miss Ms. ____.” This statement was not an anomaly to how he spoke about his teacher this year. Consistently, his feelings about her were positive — and I knew the feeling was mutual. As both a mother and teacher, this is an equally important measurement of effectiveness: An effective teacher likes her students and her students like her.

 

Big surprise! I knew all of this already! During my 12 years teaching, I worked to develop my capacity at ensuring that my students could cite their growth in learning, I integrated the arts and met different learning styles, and I always liked my kids. Yet this year, I came to value the qualities of an effective teacher in a different way than I have before because this was the first year that my son had a truly fantastic teacher and I felt constantly grateful. It’s such a different (and scary) experience being on this side of the education equation — the side where it’s your baby that you’re sending off to a stranger everyday.

 

Valuing Qualitative Data

The question that’s burning in my mind at the end of this year is how we, as parents and teachers, can continue insisting that these other qualities be valued as much as testing data. They’re hard to measure and tedious to gather the indicators, but we could start with inviting children to share their feelings and reflections more often.

 

Here’s what my son just blurted out when I asked him why Ms. ____ is a good teacher:

AuthorElena Aguilar, Edutopia

 

Photo by: Wesley Fryer

Seven Questions to Ask About Texting in Class

Despite their ubiquity among students, case mobile phones are still viewed as contraband in most classrooms. Students are told to turn their phones off, leave them in their lockers, or leave them at home. This response to what is arguably the most ubiquitous 1-to-1 computing device available in our schools today undoubtedly led many students to list bans on mobile phones as one of the biggest obstacles to technology use in the recent Speak Up 2010 report.

That same report also indicated that parents and students were paying for these devices themselves—and were more than willing to purchase data plans if mobile phones would be accepted in the classroom. This willingness on the part of parents to subsidize technology in the classroom could free up valuable school funds for purposes other than buying hardware. If for no other reason, this may be cause to think twice about blanket bans on mobile phones in the classroom.

Meanwhile, a number of projects underway are moving forward in exploring how these devices can be used for educational purposes in countries outside the U.S. where there are far fewer computers per household.

Read more HERE>

Author: Audrey Watters, MindShift

Photo by: Wesley Fryer, Link
Seven Questions to Ask About Texting in Class

Despite their ubiquity among students, find mobile phones are still viewed as contraband in most classrooms. Students are told to turn their phones off, for sale leave them in their lockers, or leave them at home. This response to what is arguably the most ubiquitous 1-to-1 computing device available in our schools today undoubtedly led many students to list bans on mobile phones as one of the biggest obstacles to technology use in the recent Speak Up 2010 report.

That same report also indicated that parents and students were paying for these devices themselves — and were more than willing to purchase data plans if mobile phones would be accepted in the classroom. This willingness on the part of parents to subsidize technology in the classroom could free up valuable school funds for purposes other than buying hardware. If for no other reason, this may be cause to think twice about blanket bans on mobile phones in the classroom.

Meanwhile, a number of projects underway are moving forward in exploring how these devices can be used for educational purposes in countries outside the U.S. where there are far fewer computers per household.

Read more HERE>

Author: Audrey Watters, MindShift

 
Seven Questions to Ask About Texting in Class

Despite their ubiquity among students, help mobile phones are still viewed as contraband in most classrooms. Students are told to turn their phones off, leave them in their lockers, or leave them at home. This response to what is arguably the most ubiquitous 1-to-1 computing device available in our schools today undoubtedly led many students to list bans on mobile phones as one of the biggest obstacles to technology use in the recent Speak Up 2010 report.

That same report also indicated that parents and students were paying for these devices themselves — and were more than willing to purchase data plans if mobile phones would be accepted in the classroom. This willingness on the part of parents to subsidize technology in the classroom could free up valuable school funds for purposes other than buying hardware. If for no other reason, this may be cause to think twice about blanket bans on mobile phones in the classroom.

Meanwhile, a number of projects underway are moving forward in exploring how these devices can be used for educational purposes in countries outside the U.S. where there are far fewer computers per household.

 

The World Bank‘s ICT and education specialist Michael Trucano recently highlighted a number of interesting pilot projects in Pakistan that are demonstrating how those with even very low-end mobile phones can leverage these devices to open up new learning opportunities.

Author: Audrey Watters

 

If you’ve met one person with autism, recipe you’ve met ONE person with autism.

Encourage your child to be a buddy with a classmate who may be lonely and feeling like an outcast.

“Do you want to eat lunch with me?” Those simple words may not seem like a big deal to most children, story but as parents with children on the autism spectrum know, they can mean the world to their children. Chances are your child knows at least one peer from school who is on the spectrum. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, three to six children out of 1,000 will be diagnosed with some form of ASD. Understanding autism has become increasingly important in our society and across the globe and it presents a significant opportunity to teach our children compassion through awareness.

As a teacher, some of the most fascinating students I have encountered in the classroom are children who have been identified as having autism. Often, the negative stigma that follows them around comes from a misunderstanding of their behaviors. Thinking about Autism Awareness Month made me think about all of the wonderfully hilarious, thoughtful, unique students I have taught who were on the spectrum. A bumper sticker I once saw read: “If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met ONE person with autism!” This is so true! As with all individuals, children with autism have wonderful qualities worth recognizing and highlighting, unfortunately, some of these qualities cause them to be ridiculed in class. My responsibility as a teacher is to facilitate their acceptance in my classroom.

Read more HERE>

Author: Jennifer Luchesi Long