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Monday, December 13, 2004

Art Class…..

This was the shortest sub job yet. I was called to the country club school at 11:30am and met with the GATE (Gifted and Talented Education) art teacher.

I was supposed to teach one class art for an hour while she went to the dentist. She assured me that I didn’t have to know how to draw. That’s good because I couldn’t draw a crooked line in an earthquake!

She gives me the quick nickel tour and all the handouts I need and then tells me: “Ok, you do the next 4th grade class for an hour and you’re done! Have fun!!” as she exits to make her dentist appointment.

The teacher then introduced me to the kids and went to her desk to do “stuff” for the next hour.

Things were progressing pretty well. The kids were drawing the “human form”, “a flag on a flag pole” and a “cartoon guy peeking out of a hole in the ground” all according to the instructional handouts. Every once in a while a kid would walk up to show me his work.

Obviously some students have more talent than others, but I made positive comments about all of them. So when one kid came up with a picture of what looked like a space cat from a Japanese comic book, I told him “it was very very good, but it wasn’t one of the drawings we were supposed to practice. Can I see one of those?”

The kid got this horrified look on his face, ran over to the trash can, crumpled up his drawing, tossed it in, went to the corner of the room and refused to speak to me.

I must have had a panicked look on my face because the teacher motioned to me that she’d take care of it and for me to continue.

The teacher later told me that the kid was autistic and did not react very well to ANY kind of negative or perceived criticism.

Thanks for the heads up warning……too late.


Leia said...

I really believe that is it important that school districts provide training for having kids with developmental challenges in your classroom. I know in my student teaching placement I have kind of been thrown into situations with a child with autism that I definitely didn't feel equipped to handle. I spoke to my Master Teacher and she had little to no advice for me in regards to how to handle this student. She just disciplines him the same way as her other students. I'm not sure this is the most effective way for this individual child. As you mentioned in your example, he child does not react well to criticism. Might have been helpful to know this beforehand, right? Which brings me back to training for all teachers of how to handle kids with different developmental challenges.

Teachers should receive training and be monitored by a trained professional to ensure success. Also those teachers with experience and that are trained in the area of special education and autism can be used to help and even mentor teachers with limited experience in dealing with the demands and special needs of autistic children. Training and education in the communication and pedagogy of children with autism is first and most important in dealing with autism in the classroom.

Also I believe school districts should provide support. They must receive the resource materials and academic tools necessary to address the learning needs of autistic children. The administration should allow for an environment of support by joining parents, students, teachers and the school administration in an evaluation of the classroom and the materials and resources it provides. I believe we as teachers could very much push for this in whichever schools we end up in, if these services are not available.

The child with autism in my student teaching classroom, is very disruptive at times and to better see these possible triggers that "set him off" would be very, very helpful in controlling his urges to act out. With proper training, this could be achieved. But I know there is budget issues in every school district, and quite frankly teachers don't have a ton of time, I am coming to find out! But it could so beneficial for us.

Betty said...

I love your stories. As a sub, I get the same thing. Even when I was a classroom teacher, I had a similar experience. A new student was hitting others during recess, and I told him that he could control his hands. He freaked out, held them in front of him, and yelled, "No, I can't." When I reported his behavior to the school counselor, she told me that he had been institutionalized until his current placement in sixth grade. She explained that she felt it was better for his teachers not to know so he could start with a clean state. It would have been so helpful to have had a heads up. I would have responded in a completely different way.

edusubtea said...

I really enjoyed reading your blog it was like talking to one of co-workers about our experience. Many times as a substitute you don't get to talk with other staff or get to know them.
I think this would be a great book. The other thing was the fact that other blogsites were connected. Thank you.