There was something that bothered Renay a lot this week. There was something echoing from a student, a side comment that Renay did not address right away. Instead, she let the student who made the comment continue on and have a chance with the purpose of the connections that occurred. Sometimes it happens that way, but what about those missed teaching moments? When do they end? Even when interventions aren’t always working, what is the difference between the first contact or the change in a student’s life?
There are easily thousands of missed teachable moments. And you’re going to get some of them. You’re going to lose some of those moments. It’s okay.
But when you’re ready to step in and talk to a student, especially a general education student, there are some ground rules.
- Remember the students with disabilities have a right to privacy. If they didn’t over hear the comment, they don’t need to be posted to the pillar as an example. This also means that you don’t call out that the general ed student’s comment may have been ill timed because there was a student with a disability in proximity. This is also often where you check if you are ready to have a conversation with a student.
- Avoid approaching the student with “Don’t say that!” or “We don’t use that language.” This is often too vague, even for young students. Try instead, “I understand you have some questions about the fact that the student didn’t respond to you, maybe I can help you understand something about your classmates…” Notice nothing about “disability” is said in that statement.
- Take a deep breath. We’ve said this a lot lately. But this is about teaching, not about the anger that you feel as a gut reaction. If you’re off the beaten path shouting or even feeling steam rise in your ears, you shouldn’t talk to a student about redirecting themselves. You just get branded “Crazy Adult At School Who Spoke To Me”. This title has many variations. Some may even be quite unprofessional.
- Remember that some students with disabilities have siblings at the same campus who may not have a disability at all. A sometimes, the sibling says comments hoping to get attention away from their sibling.
- Follow the school procedure for reporting a student who continues to repeat infractions. Likely a student who has an honest conversation with an adult will realize their mistake and try to do better. Some students, unfortunately, don’t care and you can help follow through and help them learn how all members of a community share to learn. Discipline may involve increasing interactions with peers specifically with disabilities, and through shared time, perhaps learning more about each other can foster some bonds.
The inroads are sometimes slow and winding. You never know when they are going to need a lot more repair than others. But the idea that a school is it’s own community, with its own values that are upheld is not an unusual idea. It helps create a better situation for all.
Do you have any comments about this week’s blog? Do you have a question for us? Would you like to be a guest blogger? Would you like to have an opportunity to pilot some materials at your campus? Find ParaEducate online here, here, here, here, and on our website. Paraeducate is a company interested in providing materials, information, and strategies for people working in special education inclusion settings for grades K-12. ParaEducate, the blog, is published weekly during the academic school year on Thursdays, unless a holiday. ParaEducate shares their findings at conferences, through their books, and their academic adaptations.