Monday, April 30, 2007

Resilience Part 2

If you are one who looks at students with behavior problems through the lens of resilience (instead of the lens of annoyance), this is what you will see:

1. Even the most difficult student has the ability to endure and even learn from crisis & trauma.

2. The goal is to assist the student in creating a strong internal sense of being a “functional” person despite outside pressures.

3. There is a great need for supportive people who tell students the truth in a proactive (not punitive, assaultive or abrasive) manner.

4. The believe that it’s never too late for anyone to heal & grow.

Once you view students through this lens, you will have eliminated all excuses. No longer will your effort and attention not be enough. You have now empowered yourself to be an advocate and teacher for all students, of all backgrounds, ability levels, cultures and ages. Now you can teach & reach them all.

To be continued...

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Resilience Part 1

I have been asked often, "Why do these kids act this way?" The answer is never simple and it often has several variables. It is easy to take misbehavior personally; especially when a student may be so good at pushing your buttons. However, the action is most likely not as personal as you may think. The truth most likely lies in that the student has learned these negative behaviors as survival skills to the trauma that he or she has been through and uses it as a protection.

Instead of looking at students with emotional disabilities or behavior concerns in a negative light, try looking at them through the lens of resilience.

Resilience (n): 1. The ability to recover quickly from illness, change, or misfortune; buoyancy.

In my experience, the majority of students with emotional disabilities have been through horrific experiences that we can only imagine. They have been resilient to the misfortune in their lives. Many have suffered or have been witness to repeated abuse or tragedy. It is this experience that often shapes their behavior. They use these skills (arguing, refusal, aggression) to control what they can and maintain some sense of order. In other words, these kids are survivors. These students had to be resilient in order to survive.

Here's another take on resilience:

“The ability to rebound from adversity strengthened and more
resourceful. It is an active process of endurance, self-righting and growth in response to crisis and challenge.”
- Dr. Froma Walsh

I believe that this is where we, as educators, can have the most impact on our students. We can help them to utilize their power in a different way. We can help them to focus their negative energy into something positive. However, it is almost impossible to think that these students can do this on their own. They need to be lead in a positive direction and shown why using more positive actions can be just as positive and commanding as negative ones. These students have remarkable strength.

To be continued...

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Is there anything in this world like the sense of belonging? Think about it for a moment.

Naomi Leon, a character from Becoming Naomi Leon by Pam Munoz Ryan, talks and creates lists about many things, but one strikes me today~

The Good and the Bad All Rolled Into One

That's what I think belonging is. Belonging is a cozy, warm place where one can nestle and be appreciated. However, belonging can also lead to stagnation and narrow-mindedness. Belonging can be the line between self-esteem and peer pressure. It can be the line between colleague and friend.

What has me thinking this?

I've been blessed to feel a sense of belonging here in my comfy-cozy Special Needs department- even in times of shuffle. And now, some more change is on the horizon... so I wonder:

Will I still belong? Do I need to? Does 'belonging" stop? Most importantly...

How many of our students face this struggle
everyday and wrestle with a sense of belonging?

I guess what I've come to think is this. One can still belong to something or someone- even in a different way. Change is needed to make the belonging all the better or to remind us what groups or ideals we want to belong to. So although I miss my old, snugly sense of belonging- I can also look forward to belonging to something new too. I can look forward to new nuggets of belonging, look back and appreciate the feelings I've had and still hold on to the best of them all.


Be Inspired! Read Becoming Naomi Leon today!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Sticks & Stones...

I was emailed this speech by a colleague and friend of mine. It definitely warrants reading. It made me take a look at my view of "acceptable" words. I wonder which words you may tolerate or use without even realizing the harm in it?

It makes you think, doesn't it?

Click or copy & paste link below to read:

Friday, April 13, 2007

Teacher Sarah...

I am a teacher. My official title is "Teacher of Students with Exceptional Needs" or "Exceptional Educator." I like that.

I am fortunate that I love what I do. Now, I don't love EVERYTHING about my job, but who does anyway? I absolutely love working with kids. They are funny, enlightening and maliable. What a wonderful combination!

While enjoy working with all students, my passion and expertise lies within working with, advocating for and teaching students labeled as having emotional disabilities and / or behavior concerns.

I believe it is so important in teaching to have a passion and rely on that. I am really fortunate to have several unruly students to keep me charged at all times! :)

How's that for a first post?