I was so surprised to see the PE teacher coming into my room with a stern look on his face this morning. He marched in and stated firmly, "I need to talk with you- privately- about one of the students."
Immediately my heart sank. One of my students with an emotional disability, J, is in his class and has had a couple of incidents this year. I let my mind race to what could have possibly occurred in PE class that would warrant the teacher coming to my class directly.
I had a feeling it wasn't going to be good. J had come to us last year petrified of the water- any water- and it caused him some anxiety. While he did conquer his overall fear of water and swimming in 6th grade, there were some definite areas that caused him angst. Two of these being the deep end and, especially, the diving board. He made it clear that even though he was a 7th grader that the diving board was not going to happen. The idea of jumping off into the unknown and relying only on yourself to fight your way to the surface was not something J was willing to try. I wondered if weeks of swimming had pushed J over the edge. I took a deep breath.
Immediately, the teacher broke into a smile. "J dove off of the diving board twice today! I haven't been able to get him to try that since we started swimming at the beginning of the year. The kids were so proud of him. It was great! I could barely get him to go into the locker room to change for class and when he finally did his head was down. When I asked him what was wrong he replied, 'I just wish I would have gone off the diving board earlier since this is the last day of swimming and it was so much fun!' "
I thanked the teacher for sharing with me and gave J lots of praise and celebration when he came into my class. He was exuberant and so proud of himself. It was wonderful to see such pride and excitement from this student who doesn't think he can do much well. We celebrated for a good 5 minutes and let all the members of the class ask him questions and give him words of encouragement. It was a wonderful moment for all of us, but especially one for J. J realized that he could do something he never thought possible, succeed at it and rely on himself. What a great lesson and one I couldn't teach him.
Way to go J- you did it!