With the increased number of Autistic students now in our classrooms, I thought you might be interested in reading about the broad range of signs and symptoms of this condition. I found this HELPGUIDE site to be very informative and it also contains links to other sites on Austism spectrum disorder. As I have often said, knowledge is the key to understanding. We all need to be more aware of the needs and capabilites of these children, whether they are our students or not.
Thought you might enjoy this glimpse from the past.
The Caddo Herald
March 24, 1911
School district No. 5 should have another school building and The Herald suggests that not less than $25,000 be voted for the building of the same. Every citizen of the district is benefitted more or less by good schools whether or not they have children attending the schools. There is no agency that adds more to the general uplift of the community educationally, socially, morally, and otherwise than good schools; they are second only to good churches. In maintaining the good schools now, we are paving the way for a broader and more progressive citizenship in the next generation. You might have attended school in a log cabin, but don’t you want your children to have better advantages than you had, don’t you want to give them a better education than you have? If you don’t there is evidently something the matter with you and a commission should be appointed to investigate your case.
Being a teacher is akin to being a grandparent. Grandparents play a vital role in rearing and nurturing a child, but “you get to give them back” at the end of the day, or week or whatever. There are rest breaks and vacations and times to refresh body and soul because most children don’t stay with grandparents 24/7. So it is with teaching. No matter how rewarding or challenging my role as teacher is each year, I know that ultimately the students will go on to the next teacher and the next. And the bottom line is that the parent will be with them through all 15-20 years of their education.
I suppose that realization is why I often get frustrated with parents who are uncooperative and/or less than supportive of the education system. Each year I have at least one or two parents who, for whatever reason, ignore notes, do not respond to suggestions, do not help with homework, and do not seem interested in what goes on in the classroom. They also make excuses for their child’s behavior, work habits, and grades. Well, as a teacher I can only say, “Good luck with that attitude!” I just don’t think it’s going to improve anything about your child’s educational experience.
Why do some parents just not understand how school performance relates to the adult world of work? Are they fearful of placing too much responsibility on their child? Well the alternative to “too much” cannot be “none”. Life just doesn’t operate that way! From the time a child is born we are training it to live independently. And that training must include how to behave in society, how to make decisions, how to be responsible for our work and our actions, and how to use our brains to solve problems. School is the ideal platform for that training and experience. Where else will the child be supported by trained professionals, surrounded by students with similar abilities, and tested by standardized criteria?
I was a good student, but I also had parents who insisted that I take my work seriously. I did my homework even if I didn’t like it or the teacher or the school. I studied for tests even if we had other plans or I was tired. I behaved because I knew it was the right thing to do…and if I didn’t my parents would not only punish me, but worse, be disappointed in me. I never ever recall my parents saying that my behavior was dependent on whether or not I wanted to behave. I was expected to do so!
So if you are a parent with the attitude that school in general, or kindergarten in particular, is just “something your child does during the day” and you do not feel that it is in your best interest and his/hers to take an active role in education….good luck with that! Come back in ten years and tell me how that’s working for you.
(Note: I am posting this on two of my blogs- not because I’m lazy, but in hopes of reaching more parents with my message.)
We do a lot of testing in school. Our goal is to make sure that our students are actually learning, not just occupying a space in the room, and we also want some evidence that we can share with others- parents, administrators, other teachers. However, the proof of their understanding often occurs at random times throughout the day, especially here in kindergarten. Some examples:
Yesterday was pizza day. In our school the pizza is a big rectangle. Several of my boys got the idea to “make Oklahoma” and they took bites out of their pizza until it resembled the “long-handled pot” shape of our state!
One of our “table centers” is a set of plastic magnetic numbers and math symbols that stick to a metal cookie sheet. This week students have been excited to show me their understanding by sharing math problems with me. Yesterday one proudly showed me 5+3=8.
Our writing task one day was to write three sentences about penguins, using a word bank, a little reader we had just completed, and their knowledge of penguins (based on the non-fiction book, “A Penguin Year”). Most students wrote “I see a penguin.” or “Penguins like cold.” or “Penguins build a nest.” One student wrote “I thought it was a bird.”- which made a direct reference to a statement in the book that early fishermen thought penguins were fish with feet. Good listening little buddy!
A running argument in my class is “do numbers really go to infinity?” My students often try to surprise their friends by creating the biggest number that will fit on their paper. Then they give it some wild label like “twenty hundred zillion”. LOL Wonderful to overhear those conversations!
And of course the sweetest proof of understanding is listening to my students read. We are at the stage now when many of my children are beginning to read for their own enjoyment, and of course to astound their parents. Good times….
The first semester of school is about learning rules, routines, and responsibilities. It’s about figuring out how to get along with a group, do some work for the teacher, and not get into trouble. It’s about having fun and making friends. And it’s about finding out who you are away from your home and parents.
The second semester is about getting serious.
It’s about doing work you’re proud to show to your parents.
It’s about reading out loud to your teacher.
It’s about doing math at the board in front of your peers.
It’s about taking tests and proving that you know what you know.
It’s about discovering that you’re a “big kid”.
It’s about becoming a student and understanding that you have a lot more years of school ahead of you.
It’s about being confident that you are a good student.