Monday, November 17, 2008

Shoes Not Required

Today I covered a severely handicapped special education class. It was a very long day.

First period I was working one on one with this one boy. He had to read a short story (by short I mean it wasn't more than 20 words long) and answer five questions. It was an easy enough assignment, but he was having none of it.

For twenty minutes I had to repeat myself over and over: No, read this. No, actually read it--don't just underline each word while reading every third word. Now, answer the question. No, you can't skip to number two, you must first answer number one. No, no period there, finish writing the sentence. And on and on and on.

Classes like these have instructional assistants, and they know the kids. So, two of the instructional assistants backed me up by coming over to try to push the boy to get some work done.

One of the IAs had a punishment for the boy. "We're all going to take off our shoes and socks." This frightened the boy enough to get one question done. Then the threat had to be repeated.

Throughout the day, the IA would start to unlace his shoes. Not the student's. The IA's shoes. A couple times he got one shoe off. And this seemed to work.

I never got a chance to ask. Why was the boy frightened of bare feet? How did they discover this method of motivation? Were there days that they had to go barefoot to get the boy to work?

It was a great motivator, but unfortunately, I don't think I'll be able to apply it to other classes.

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