"Q&A" from StoryCorps- Joshua Littman who has Asperger’s Syndrome interviews his mother.  This made me teary-eyed.

I taught some empathy!

I really should be asleep right now but I’m all too excited about what happened at work today.

One of my kiddos (6 yr old) got into a really bad mood this morning.  I could feel it in my bones that nothing would make him smile or even answer me with a reasonably calm voice.  It was grunt this, yell that, attempt to destroy anything in his path.  He was just not having it.  The funk probably lasted for about 2 hrs or so.  We got through an okay day and while I walked him to his after school program, I made some small talk.

Me: Can I ask you something?

Kid: What?

Me: What’s your favorite part of the day? Morning, afternoon, even—

Kid: Afternoon!

Me: No wonder, mornings are hard for you, huh?

Kid: Yeah, I don’t like the mornings. I get really grum—, grouchy! I get grouchy in the mornings (makes an angry face).

Me: I can tell, you didn’t have a good morning today. That’s okay, mornings are hard for me too.  Would you be scared if I was super grouchy?

Kid: No, I wouldn’t be scared. But you would be grouchy if I was grouchy in the morning!

It was a really simple reply but it completely caught me off guard.  I think I’ve managed to carve a deeper layer into this kid.  It’s slowly showing!  I’m going to have to remember this when we both have a bad day.  Little things like these make me love my job.

zeitgeistmovement:

RSA Animate - The Empathic Civilization

Bestselling author, political adviser and social and ethical prophet Jeremy Rifkin investigates the evolution of empathy and the profound ways that it has shaped our development and our society.

(Source: socialuprooting)

I wonder how relevant this study is across other cultures.  Western cultures are more likely to associate smiling as a symptom of a positive emotion.  But in any case, cheers to this TED Talk as a reminder for us to smile more!

The First Case of Autism

Never thought I’d read about this.  I’m really excited to read any journals that talk more about Donald.  Makes me wonder how my clients will turn out in 10-20 years from now.

I am not yet qualified, but thanks anyway.

Reblogged from March 9, 2011.

Lewis and I recently watched Waiting for Superman, a documentary on how behind our education system is in the States.  If you thought you were behind when you were in school because of the teachers, classroom setup, or the lack of resources, you might need to watch this film to see howbehind students are today.  And this is just following elementary and middle school students.  It doesn’t depend on following bad teachers around but the students instead.  You get to see the struggles they have to go through to prove they’re at grade level, to enter lotteries to be with better teachers and classrooms, to have a change to actually learn something. 

It broke my heart to see this many kids rejected or neglected because of the lack of organized and prioritized education.  It makes me feel worse because I get to be around it when I work.

I’m not too surprised to see the uprising of enraged college students when they fight for better education.  Just last year, we’ve seen many colleges stand up to the administration to demand cheaper education.  It’s a complete joke to have paid so much to just have professors read off PowerPoints or assign their students reading but not show up until the exam.  We might as well rely on online education provided by these prestigious universities.

The cycle of bad educators have continued all through our childhood into adulthood and it’s unfair.  The statistics that pop up for high school dropouts and unemployment rates are laughable.  I say this because fingers point that people without a good education are going to fail, it’s obvious, we know that already.  But no one has tried to really invest time to nip things in the bud.  At least stick long enough to see if it’ll work.  It seems fixable to throw non-high school graduates into trade school to create the working class, but shouldn’t it we try to target these problems earlier and give this population a chance to have more opportunities for success? We can raise that threshold of whatever line is divided between the highly and poorly educated.

I’m twiddling my thumbs here wanting to scream out, “EARLY INTERVENTION!”

No, not the one that includes specialists of all kinds but a newer program for kids that has room for flexibility.  That notion that kindergartners and first graders can only learn if there are worksheets is too rigid.  And definitely too easy for teachers to cruise and take on the role as babysitters instead of educators.  I have a lot of respect for teachers that take all their time and effort to influence their students in such a way that will affect more than just that school year of their lives.  We need more teachers like that.  The students are begging for them.

Here’s where my example comes in.  Please note that I will not use names of people or places because I do not intend to criminalize anyone.  I just want to pass on my experiences and hope that this problem isn’t chronic.  I have had my fair share of substitute teachers in the last few months.  I’ve learned that many of them had previously owned their own classroom and taught as they pleased.  This makes me cringe. 

Their first assumption seems to always be that kids will be kids, that they will be witty and behave as well as trained monkeys.  Nope.  The lower the grade, the greater the classroom control you should have.  The second, that if you are fully honest with them, they’ll understand.  They’re kids, they’re not stupid.  The subs I have helped have admitted to a bunch of 5 and 6-year olds that they’ve never worked with little kids.  That’s their cue to reek havoc and test boundaries.  Your reports of how the students behaved reflects on how you teach.  The third, laughing it off and asking the parents if they mind that he’ll improv that day. Are you kidding me? That was self-explanatory.  And the last point that made my jaw drop, was if I “wanted to teach the class to lead him in”. 

I should probably note that I am not a teacher, but I work in a classroom.  If you’re acting as the teacher, man up and act like one.  You need to assume that I cannot handle a class of 32 students and have a specific role in that class.  I do not belong at the front of the class.  I work in the background, that was noted in the lesson plan.  The day later goes on with that sub asking if he could take a bathroom break, sit in class while I watched the kids during class, at recess, or PE.  I don’t mean to come off rude, but why are you being paid to be a substitute teacher again if you indirectly try to hand off your duties as one to someone else? 

Needless to say, I am not impressed with subs.  After my 18 years of education, it’s given me enough confidence to say that I feel cheated.  Getting to watch how bad teachers interact with these students have left a bad taste in my mouth and has reminded of similar teachers that I’ve had in the past.  We’re heading for a decline here if we haven’t met more competent educators than our number of the bad ones. We need to break this cycle.