In all our first day jitters, a colleague came to frustrated. She is frustrated because of unknowns- which is more than relatable. However, the frustrations were initially relayed as deficits in a particular child: ❌the student cannot ❌the student cannot ❌the student cannot I know this teacher well- her intention was not to describe a child this way, but say I am frustrated because I don’t know what to do. Guess what?
Most people do not know what to do when they meet a new student who requires support. We all learn. THAT IS OK!!! Rather than pointing this out, I simply asked WHAT CAN SHE DO? It turned out she was not sure- why, who knows. I can only assume the challenges were passed along rather than the strengths.
We talked about her concerns, but flipped them to positives.
- This student cannot open marker lids, but she can colour. So we can pre-open the kids, pair a buddy to open them, or provide her with accessible markers.
- This child cannot flip the pages of a book. But she can flip adapted pages and swipe- SO add a paper clip to each page or use a tablet.
- This student cannot write sentences with a pencil, but she has lots to say. So we can use voice to text, typing, or other forms of accessible technology.
- This child cannot walk. But she can drive an electric wheelchair independently- so let her. We can teach her the rules of the hallway and give her support in the form of a hallway buddy, TA, or one of us can walk near her.
We sat down and worked together. We chatted about concerns, unknowns, and how we- as a team- can support this student. Using her strengths to support her progress.
It is very easy to let uncertainties turn into frustrations and negatives- but it is very important to ask for help before this happens! Every child can learn and will succeed with the right support. Do not be afraid of what you don’t know. It is an awesome learning opportunity for all!!!