Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Reward: Watering the Plants

For a while, I wasn't covering special ed. classes at all. I don't specifically refuse them. I just had not been offered them.

The other thing that has picked up this school year is the extra period assignment. Some of it is due to beginning of the year IEPs, but some of it is teachers not covered. On this particular day, I was covering a teacher while she was out for an IEP.

These special ed. classes are designated "severely handicapped". We were at the middle school. And their assignment for the period was to write out their name, address, and phone number. If they did not know it, they could go to one of the classroom aides to be given that information. Then they were to write it down twice more, hopefully without looking back.

Every student needed the aide to help them fill out the first section.

After they finished that, we were to go out and water the garden.

One girl kind of refused to finish filling out her name and address twice more. Another aide (there were three) informed the girl that she couldn't go out with them if she wouldn't finish. And when she didn't finish, she was left in the room with me.

The girl stood up and refused to budge. So, I tried the only trick I know. I bribed her.

I promised her that I would take her out to water if she would sit down and finish her work. Sure enough, she sat down and did finish.

Which kind of surprised me. Usually, I offer these sorts of things, but the student doesn't get the work finished. I guess going out to water was enough of an inducement to get her moving.

How the teacher and those aides deal with those students every day, I have no idea. They are amazing. And very nice to the ignorant sub as well.


  1. That's a tough assignment. Hard enough teaching middle schoolers, harder still to do it as a sub with (in their minds) questionable authority, but to then take on special ed kids with extra demands: good for you for doing it so well.

    Speaking from experience, that's really tough to motivate some kids who may not respond to the traditional stimuli. With our kids, we sometimes have to try 2, 3, 4 things to get them out of their funk -- rewards of varying natures. This morning, Mr Bunches didn't want to get up to go to school, but I reminded him that when we went outside to wait for the bus, we were going to look for a woodpecker that lives in our yard. He got all excited and happy then.

    (The story has a mixed ending: Although we DO have a woodpecker, it didn't show up this morning. What DID show up was a robin. Mr Bunches, who doesn't know what woodpeckers look like and doesn't know many birds, said "There it is! It's the woodpecker." Without any hesitation, I said "Yep! Say hi to the woodpecker."

    Someday he'll learn the difference between robins and woodpeckers, but that wasn't important today.

    1. It is tough to motivate kids. And certain special ed. classes can be a challenge. I'm just glad I was only there for the one period.

  2. I guess she was just being stubborn. Everyone has them. Most people aren't mature enough to quit once they've started, though.


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