Day to day, week to week, I am discovering so many things I was not expecting. I knew getting into this field that this would be the case but the differences I am finding still make me shake my head and ask (or cry) "Why?". Recently it is the unkindness I have been experiencing in my classroom. I have implemented the "Caught You Being Kind" Jar, in which every time I see a random act of kindness I add a marble. When the jar is full, we earn a movie and Ice-Cream. As simple and "old-school" as this may be, it has been working. . . with CONSTANT reminders and reinforcements. Is it too much to ask my students just be kind to one another without me rewarding them?! The short answer. . . YES! Right now, that is too much to ask.
In my graduate classes we went over numerous times spreading acceptance and embracing the differences in our special needs students. We learned different things to say and do to other students within the school to help educate the general education students and make them aware of various disabilities. It is difficult being in a special needs school, as it is not educating individuals without disabilities, it is educating students with their own disabilities about other disabilities. I always thought in this environment maybe students would feel like a team and avoid making fun of one another and making inappropriate comments. But that is not the case. It happens here too. We are trying to enforce empathy and understanding in our students in relation to their peers. Some days I am so happy when I see a positive interaction between two individuals that was not happening before. Other days, it feels like I am walking up a down escalator. It’s a challenge, but my goal is for all students, regardless of their disability, to have respect and empathy for those around them. But most importantly for them to just be nice!
A jar, marbles, and ice cream party are not going to make my students kind consistently over night, but the tiny bits of progress I am seeing are enough to make me realize it is possible.
Next adventure: Interrupting!