I’ve always really liked working with kids who are considered to be “on the spectrum.” I don’t claim to be particularly good at working with them, but I do typically enjoy the few such students whom I’ve gotten to teach. I like how the thrive on order and structure. They tend to make me more cognizant about my preparation for the day. For example, one of our kids really appreciates it when I write on the whiteboard what they’ll need for that day (calculator, ruler, etc.). Now, if I forget to do this…woe is me. I forgot to write that they would need a calculator a few weeks ago, and he’s still holding it against me. Weeks ago.
For the most part, I can still appreciate this love of consistency.
But sometimes the need for black and white answers doesn’t get met, and then aggression can arise. Which is what happened today.
Let’s remember: I do not claim to be good at handling such situations.
I quickly emailed the kid’s AP with an “SOS–come give him a break.” The AP came immediately, but somehow the kids had all calmed down and everyone was working on math peacefully once the principal walked in, making me look like I had everything under control the whole time (thanks, guys–I owe ya).
The AP left and class carried on without any further verbal nonsense.
At one point, the aforementioned student asked to go the restroom.
“How about you finish your work first,” I told him.
“I’m not going to finish in time!” he insisted. (We’re not supposed to let students leave the last ten minutes of class, and I’m usually a stickler for this rule, which the kid knew.)
“I think you can finish as long as you stay focused.”
He didn’t say anything further, but continued to work.
He finished his work and turned it in to me to check. By the time I was done grading it, there were only nine minutes left of class.
“See. Not enough time,” he scolded me.
“I know. But I’m going to let you go this time. It’s ok.”
“No,” he insisted matter-of-factly. “I can hold it until my next class.” (Rule followers forever have my heart. I’m half Swedish, what can I say?)
And then his voice soften, “Thank you for offering though.” And he nodded his thanks.
Thank you for offering though? This is big for me and him. This is very big.
Watching this kid’s growth this year has been slow, but it’s been steady. Hearing him say little things like this, or thanking people once they say “Bless you” after he sneezes…that’s big for him.
And we celebrate the big things for each kid.