Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Fixing Things: Using a Toolbox in School

I put some IKEA furniture together last weekend. I also took apart an old, cast iron table that was left in my newish apartment, and used a power drill for the first time.

As I sat there in the middle of my kitchen floor early Saturday morning, I thought of how I especially encourage my special education students to think critically and practically. We even had a toolbox in my self-contained classroom (a lovely paraprofessional I worked with bought it in).  There was one student who would fix everything-- from broken clipboards and faulty staplers to the DVD player which he disassembled piece by piece.  He liked to, as he put it, take things apart and see how they work inside. 

Aside from fixing things, this kid was not into school. He and his father lived and breathed baseball. This kid was going to be a star one day, and that's was that. So in between persuading him to read, write and think critically, I allowed him to take on side projects of things that needed to be fixed or improved around the classroom. 

This is one thing I miss about teaching self-contained:  having the space to figure those thing out, and to nurture children in different ways that do not fall under the usual academic lens.  From the naturally, organized students who organized the room and kept it that way, to the artists who made the posters and decorated the room when there was time. Seriously, there were some interior decorators in my classroom!  Maybe the environment I came from is especially different from my new, college preparatory, rigorous environment. Or maybe it's the pressure of the new Common Core State Standards and all the testing and test prep. 

Either way its important for children to explore and learn. Unfortutely this is not always encouraged in the home, and in the past as a self-contained teacher I had the space to do it. 

This weekend when I put together a table set with four chairs, and a lovely turquoise cart, I problem solved. I read the wordless directions that IKEA is quite fond of. I tried things out and tried them again. And then I got it.

We are all special learners. While I was never in a special education class, I am happy someone noticed and encouraged that I have a way with words. I'm glad that someone noticed I had organizational struggles and helped me with my binder and when my locker fell out in high school, didn't judge me. Reading, writing, mathematics, science and history are are main subjects. But, nurturing an artist, allowing an organizer to aid with organization, and motivating a student to complete classwork by allowing him to use a toolbox in class are also important.

Miss M

No comments:

Post a Comment