More Rare than Gold

Special education teachers often get a bad rap although that’s not my personal experience. There are some real gems out there, underpaid and undervalued but nonetheless still giving of their best.

Here in California when over 22,000 pink slips have been issued, I think it’s important to pay tribute to those who work in special education, the professionals we trust with the care of our children, both teachers and aides because it’s all about teamwork. Not only do they need to teach the curriculum and cater to each of the differing special needs of their charges, they also need to deal with the unexpected. I can think of no better way to illustrate the unexpected than to demonstrate the unexpected with an example.

This is of course hearsay as I wasn’t there myself at the time.

My son and his pals enjoy the addition of a new play fellow in their classroom The new chap has a lot of catching up to do because he is in a new environment. Like most ‘new kids,’ he has lots of questions that need lots of answers, ordinary questions, such as the rules. Most children want to know the rules but many children are of a very literal frame of mind, which means that the rules are taken quite literally. Hence the other children half listen to the conversation between the teacher and the new boy as they complete their worksheets.

New boy: “are pets allowed in school?”
Teacher:- “no I’m sorry to tell you that no pets are allowed in school.”
New boy: “are dogs allowed on the school grounds?”
Teacher: “no I’m afraid there’s a strict rule about allowing dogs on the premises, we have to be careful.”
New boy: “are cats allowed on the premises?”
Teacher: “sadly, cats aren’t allowed on school grounds either.” The last sentence is my son’s cue to stand up, walk to the wall to collect his backpack and head towards the exit but his teacher intervenes, “what’s up my friend?”
“Oh dear. I was forgetting. Of course! You are part cat!”

Did you remember to thank your teachers and aides today?

Don’t forget to add your name to the “list.”

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What an expression? The damned fine teaching profession

Slurping Life
Get the code:-
Cut and paste
from this little
boxy thing below

“Hey Mom!”
“Yes dear?”
“My teacher says I’m doin real good in math.”
“Er…….my teacher……say…’re great, awesome job!”
“Mom! My teacher says…….she am being entertaining…….. wiv my new adorable face much more……dan my angry face.”
“Dya wanna see my cute face?”

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Pass the buck

[translation = blame somebody else]

I hide the teapot in the cooker [translation = stove] as the cleaners are on their way on a Monday morning. Their scrupulousness is appreciated in all quarters of my household, with the exception of the teapot. The teapot is off limits, my personal dark little secret. I do not want it sparklingly clean and pristine. It makes better tea if it is stained the colour of mahogany, but this is not a message that is easy to translate in this country. [translation = my Spanish is limited to Dora’s exploits and my French is rusty] Therefore, taking the line of least resistance I have resorted to deception. Of course autistic children, we are told, generally are incapable of deception, they are too literal.

On return from school with the offspring, I release the teapot from it’s hidey hole and pop the kettle on the hob. [translation = tea kettle on the flames] A shadow addresses me,
“What you do?”
“Me? Oh nothing.”
“No. You do sompfink. What you do?” Is this the same child that would not utter a syllable for four, sometime five hours?
“Just getting the teapot ready for a cup of tea.”
“What that fing is called again?”
“This thing? Or that thing?”
“Bowf fings?” I have early intervention mechanism to thank for this tirade.
“This is the oven and this is the teapot.”
“Oh right, yes.” It’s not that his vocabulary is limited, it is merely that the words are mis-filed, so he’s unable to retrieve them at will. It’s like having a dictionary, which is no use to you if you can’t spell a little bit in the first place.
“Why you cook da teapot?”
“I didn’t,” I answer truthfully. He puts a tentative finger on the oven door in confirmation. [translation = no-one believes me]
“It is cold. You not cook it den?”
“That’s right.”
“Why oven den?” Why this sudden interest in teapots and cookers? Who am I to be cross examined by a seven year old about my relationship with a teapot? What business is it of his anyway? [translation = patience on low ebb]
“No reason,” I add nonchalantly.
“”No reason.’? What reason? I mean, er, why you put da teapot in the oven if you not cook it?” Really! What is wrong with the child, can’t he just let it be?
“Well, if you must know, I put it in the oven to hide it. The oven is a very good place for hiding things.”
“Good for hiding. Good for cooking. Good for two things. Dat’s good.” At last he seems satisfied although I suspect the whole exercise was merely a ruse to delay starting jobs. [translation = chores and homework]

We go through our school routine of snacks, making packed lunches and getting clothes ready for the following day. It’s so difficult to decide in which precise order to do these things in, as if you don’t have sufficient motivation in front of you, then there is no human way of dragging them forward to the goal of task completion. [translation = getting things done.]

As I settle them down to homework at the table, with the promise of stories and supper to follow, a general protest ensues. There appear to be far too many arguments against completing homework in this next 30 minute section of the day; additional nutrition required for optimal brain function, a little light television in advance, to relax the mind and let the body wind down, social interaction needed with the felines of the household to ensure bonding and minimizing dysfunctional behaviour.

I look at them all and their feeble excuses in exasperation, when senior son adds his two pennarth [transation = 2 cents] “I cant do mine cos I lef it at school today.” It’s late, we’re behind schedule [translation = our timetable] and my energy reserves are low. I decide that we can play catch up tomorrow instead, where the therapy commitments are lighter, where there are a greater number of minutes available to prompt them through it all. I make my decree and they all scamper or lumber, off to pursue other, infinitely more preferable activities.
I return to the kitchen to start preparing supper for the masses. I jiggle the steeping tea pot. Should be ready by now? I switch on the cooker and yell to warn the children of the impending noisy explosion that indicates that the pilot light is functioning. I hope that the cleaners won’t comment on the absence of the teapot after 5 years, as I wouldn’t like to hurt their feelings. Hopefully they’ll just assume that I’ve switched to coffee, converted to the American mode. Perhaps they’ll think that I’ve adopted the filthy American habit with tea instead, where you only use a tea-bag in a cup, poke it with a teaspoon and fish it out with a special pair of tweezers?

The boom of the oven that follows as it ignites, still startles me, but this is nothing to the shriek of agony that comes seconds later. Senior son erupts into the kitchen and stares in horror at the oven, eyes on stalks, palms covering his mouth, “Oh no! What you do? You are in such big trouble. I tell Mrs. Loper it was you! You are da naughty one! You cooked my homework.”

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