Teaching goes beyond books!

Mark - Hamlet, North Carolina
Entered on April 1, 2008

I believe that teaching goes beyond books!

I remember when I was an Exceptional Children’s teacher in an elementary school. I was new with no experience and had to work with a student with Down’s syndrome. On the first day of all days, he takes his shirt off and starts running down the hall yelling; “booga – booga” (talk about on the job training). I was a lateral entry teacher with a background in corrections. I had no idea what to do…there was no standard course of study guide or lesson plan to help me through this.

His favorite super hero was Spider Man, so that’s what I will refer to him as. Behaviors such as this went on for several months. I was at my wits end trying to reach Spider Man. I tried everything I could think of. I took advice from experienced teachers, mental health practitioners, the parents, and even looked on line and did some studying. And yet, I still had to coach Spider Man back to his lair (classroom) and out from under the desk. What in the world was I to do!

To build some foundation, you have to understand the situation. The mother and school system were battling each other and I walked right into the middle. The mother wanted Spider Man to remain in a regular education classroom. Mainly because of his behaviors, central office wanted him in a “special school” for super heroes like Spider Man. To make matters even more challenging, most of the staff at his current school were fed up with Spider Man and was simply “dumping” him on whomever they could. I believe Spider Man knew this!

So, back to the original statement, I believe that teaching goes beyond books! What do I mean by this? Well, glad you asked. My frustration level went through the roof and was now starting to penetrate what I thought was a good “poker face”. This mere mortal was no match it seemed for the Amazing Spider Man. So, I took a deep breath and just watched Spider Man in action. I started to see a pattern in the Amazing one’s behavior. Alas, is there a kink in the super hero’s armor? He would act on two certain days and would almost dare you to call his mother. You see, his parents were divorced, and on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Spider Man was at his best when away from his mom. I ‘m starting to see a coincidence here!

To make a long story short, I thought about using a call to mom as a reward instead of a threat. It seems I have finally found an effective weapon to use with Spider Man. I did not give up trying to get through to him. And this determination finally prevailed. Spider Man has gained two grade levels in reading in just three short years. Thus, proving his super hero powers. This I believe, sometimes you have to look in the student not just at the student and go beyond the books.

Truly, Spider Man or Not, He was and still is Amazing!