Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Meltdown

"I need help.  This class is supposed to be for help.  Help, help, help."

Then the student banged his fingers against his forehead as he continued to wail that he needed help.  

I was back in the same special ed class that I was in yesterday.  So, you'd think that today would go as smoothly as yesterday went, seeing as how I was with them two weeks ago and now this was my second day in a row with them.  Eh, not so much.

This boy had a world history/geography assignment.  There was a map.  Above the map were questions.  Above the questions was a word bank with all of the answers.  The questions all referred to the map.  It was a pretty straightforward assignment.  Yet when the boy got to class, none of it was done and he said he needed help.

Well, it was a study hall kind of class, so I helped.  I talked the boy through three questions.  I took it step by step.  "Do you see where India is?  Okay, now look for an island off the coast.  See it?  No, look again.  Now, do you see it in the word bank?  Write the letter..."

After three questions a couple things happened.  First, I had to take roll.  Then another student had a question (as I had now spent ten minutes with the first boy).  Then I went back to the boy, but I wasn't going to walk him through the whole worksheet.  He should have had the idea of how to do it.  So, instead of walking him through the next question, I gave a vague answer to his question. The result: the quote is at the top of this post.

I tried to calm the boy down.  I used a soothing tone of voice to tell him that everything was okay.  (I had been helping him after all.)  And then I was able to get some backup.  That's what I love about special ed classes--the instructional assistant in the room.  

As I had given the boy what should have been enough help, the IA came over and told the boy that he needed to work on his own.  She told him that in 15 minutes we would help him again.  Guess what?  In five minutes the boy had finished the worksheet.

They really do know more than they think they do.  Unfortunately, that was not my only meltdown of the day.

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