Archives for posts with tag: education

 

 

Lately, I haven been observing comments regarding what Aspergers is, how it effects the lives and family of individuals living with this syndrome , their family, and individuals whom they have daily interaction with. My experiences and opinions conveyed in this article are not internet and research related. They are resultant from bringing up a son who lives with Aspergers daily.

Aspergers is not outgrown, nor curable. Individuals with Aspergers merely learn compensatory strategies as they grow and silently struggle daily with their difficulty communicating, working with, and living with the neurotypical population. Aspergerers is a neurological disorder which effects many aspects of their daily lives. Because they tend to have normal to above normal I.Q.s, society perceives them as merely quirky loners.

The old phrase, “One cannot tell a book by it”s cover” is an appropriate analogy here. Ican equate their issues with a cast. When one sees an individual with a cast, they know that individual has a broken bone. In regards TO Aspergers, these individuals look like functioning neurotypicals on the exterior. I will now explain that is not the case.

Aspergians have issues impairments with communication, appropriate behavior, and socialization, or assimilation in the neurotypical society if you will. Children with Asperger’s have excellent and advanced expressive language skills. (speaking to people) Aspergians have large vocabularies and are excellent at conveying data, information, what happened on a T.V. show, etc. i.e. factual information. They often have difficulty in reciprocal conversations.

Their difficulty conversing in social situations goes beyond a lack of interest. On the contraire, they silently wish that they could socialize better. I recall my son calling from college. He attempted to join groups because he wanted to fit in with other students. He attempted to join the Frisbee club, but impaired motor skills hampered that effort. He attempted to join in at parties but difficulties with reciprocal conversation squelched that effort.

My son called me at home making me aware of his efforts to fit in, have a girlfriend and more. He informed me of his efforts to make friends and socialize. My heart broke silently when he said, “Mom I try and try to fit in but it is not working, can you teach me?” I suggested he join the computer club and he responded by saying, I only like computers because I have nothing else. My computer is my only entertainment.

Aspergers creates havoc in terms of the individual’s ability to process information, strategize, and receive information. Hence, their difficulty with receptive language. (Processing and absorbing information)  Reading body language and knowing how to respond when someone is sad, despondent, or distressed is difficult for Aspergians. I recall a gentleman telling me that he wished he new what to say or do when his wife was upset.

The man told me that it hurt him greatly because he wanted to say and do the right thing in such situations but did not know how.

Individuals with Aspergers are prone to sensory overload when presented with loud noises, strong odors, office environments where several conversations are going on simultaneously, and parties where background music is playing while people attempt to converse with them. It is not uncommon for Aspergians to have tertiary anxiety disorder which rear their ugly face in situations mentioned in the latter paragraph. Aspergers is a neurological condition.

On the surface they tend to be academic prodigiesin certain areas of academia.  Hence their nickname as children of the little professor.  In reference to language skills, many aspergians speak in a concrete format and upon further review in a reciprocal conversation their sentences may be out of context.  Due to receptive processing language deficits, many individuals have difficulty with being given more than several steps through the auditory modality at one time.

It is a misnomer that Aspergians do not warrant speech therapy. On the contrary, speech therapy can assist children in honing expressive language skills i.e. using descriptors, expressing emotions verbally, describing an experience like a trip to the zoo in more than rote terminology. Speech therapy can also assist children with deficits in sequencing. An example of sequencing would be verbally summarizing a story in sequential order.

Aspergians tend to struggle with fine and gross motor skill impairment as well due to neurological impairment. Pincer grip issues can cause issues with difficulty in cutting with scissors, tying shoes, and other fine motor skill tasks. Tasks such as bowling with one hand, midline issues, riding a bike, and climbing trees can prove difficult as well. Hand grip is generally weak and hampers ability in hanging on to jungle gym rungs, etc. Hence they tend to be ostracized by their peers not only for their social deficits, but lack of athletic prowess as well. Thus, they may benefit from physical therapy.

Aspergians may commonly present with A.D.H.D., Non Verbal processing disorder, and other maladies. They may not appear to stim. Upon further observation however on will notice that many aspergians run their hands up and down a drinking cup, have feet or legs that are in constant motion, stretch arms bent at elbows while turning wrists, tap tables and feet, and whistle, to name a few. These may be used forms of mild stimming to release anxiety.

Aspergians tend to prefer simple foods void of mixed flavors when young. This is due to sensory overload from heightened taste buds. Simplified, a spaghetti sauce can put their taste buds into sensory overload. It is extremely common for Aspergians to have tactile sensitivities. As children, a scratchy tag or rough texture shirt can drive them to the point of sensory overload, which is resultant in an emotional meltdown. A rough shirt may feel like someone is scratching their back with fingernails.

Due to mind blindness and neurological delays in development that normally place them approximately four years behind their peers, children with Aspergers are prone to being bullied. Cognitive behavior therapy may be productive in assisting children with developing emotional skills.

Please attempt to understand these children. Do not minimize nor assume that they go on to lead independent fulfilling lives. Many of these children grow up to be underemployed due to inept social skills. A college degree does not guarantee a decent due to neurologically based social, and processing difficulties. Due to popular belief not every aspergian becomes an engineer or scientist. They are as diverse as you and I. In my sons case, he is advanced in English but struggles with math and he is an Aspergian.

The divorce rate is extremely high for Aspergians in relation to neurotypical couples. Some go through life having no romantic relationship or friends due to struggling with navigating the social maze. Without society’s assistance and a nationwide education program these children will not hone their wonderful talents.

Society owes these children AND adults a fighting chance. They cannot always control their behavior and depend on us (society) to equip them with the skills, guidance, and positive support network that they need to thrive as adults. Believe in children and they will believe in themselves.

In closing, I leave you with this food for thought. Not all disabilities are as apparent as a blind individual with a cane, an individual in a wheel chair, etc. Please attempt to look below the surface and understand. Thanks and stay well.

Mari Nosal M.Ed., CECE

Recognition and identification of Aspergers syndrome has skyrocketed in the last decade. Unfortunately, the way it is portrayed through the media venue has provided individuals who do not interact with families or children directly involved with a stigmatized lenses of the syndrome. ie Sheldon Cooper on the Big Bang Theory void of the ability to display emotion, Gregory House of the House series who expresses a diagnosis to a patient with apparent disregard to their feelings, Jerry the Lawyer of Boston Legal who allegedly had Aspergers and was portrayed with comorbid maladies such as grabbing his thighs standing on tippy toes and running away making odd noises.

In my opinion these television characters provide a disgraceful impression to society in regards to Aspergers. Successful Aspergians who work beside you and your peers. Aspergians who are parents, doctors, lawyers, scientists, teachers, students and more.

I wish to present a portrayal of some misnomers regarding Aspergers . I will draw from personal experience that I have acquired both as an educator and interactions with family members on the spectrum from both a serious and humorous perspective. These are merely my personal observations.

1)      Individuals with Aspergers are incapable of lying:

This is a mistaken perception due to their penchant for bluntness. i.e. If a teacher wants to know who misbehaved in class the child with Aspergers would be ones best source of information. Bluntness is not the same as lying however. Like any other child, children with Aspergers may stretch the truth to avoid trouble.

If Aspergians can’t lie, than our family was not informed of this fact. I recall picking up my son at preschool. He was four years of age. He had been displaying behavioral issues such as sticking his fingers in his ears and closing his eyes when the teacher gave him directions. He would respond by saying, “I can’t hear you or see you, LALA,LA.”

I used a candy bar as positive reinforcement. This was a treat because candy was not freely available at home. When I picked him up from preschool, I would immediately ask how he behaved for the teacher. If the report was good, he received a candy bar.

I recall picking him up from preschool and asking how his day had gone. His eyes darted from me to his teacher. He replied with a quick, “Mom come on out in the parking lot and I will let you know how I behaved. “I foiled his intent to give me a good report when we were out of his teacher’s earshot.

I responded by telling him that I would ask his teacher directly about his behavior before leaving the classroom. My son disappeared. I heard the bathroom door slam shut in his classroom. He had evidently run in there to hide.

I would consider this an example of the capability an Aspergian has to strategize and to lie with the intent  of reaping the reward of a coveted candy bar. My sons plan was foiled by my intervention. However I will add that my son’s actions were within the norm for any child seeking to avoid losing a reward. Heck what adult for that matter has never done something similar such as calling into work feigning an illness to take a day off from work:-0) (cough,cough)

2)      Individuals with Aspergers cannot display empathy

I would argue this assumption. Many have difficulty verbalizing emotions hence societies perception of lack of emotion. On the contraire, Aspergians get emotional overload resultant from struggles with compartmentalization of sensory intake.  I merely have to look back on the gift my son made at age six for me to confirm his capability to empathize. I had the flu and was bed bound. I woke to queries of “mom are you sleeping”? Well son I am awake now son:-0

There at my bedside stood my son. In his hand, he proudly displayed a paper plate dripping with a rainbow of food color. I will refrain from describing the state that my kitchen was in resultant from my son’s work of art. You can use your imagination to conjure up what a rainbow of food coloring spattering’s did to my house:-0)

Was this a verbal expression of emotions? No it was not. As an Aspergian, he has difficulty with naming his emotions. My son had displayed his concern and yes, empathy for me through his actions instead of words. Expressions of concern were done in his unique way via actions versus words.. It was empathy none the less.

We won’t broach my emotional state when my flu ridden body saw my rainbow colored kitchen:-0)

3)      Individuals with Aspergers are not capable of manipulating their environment

I will elaborate and confirm their skill – set with an experience had during homework time in my school age class. I was tutoring a nine year old with Aspergers. Everything was going well during math homework which was compiled of rote facts. He was always compliant when homework required the use of his wonderful rote memory.

We moved on to reading passages. I was attempting to assist the child in answering questions regarding the passage he had read. He was expected to summarize the passage which required processing skills. Rote work being his forte, his demeanor quickly changed. He attempted to stonewall. I persisted. The child looked up at the clock and said, “You know Miss Mari, my mother will be picking me up very soon”. I was silently amused at his comment. What he was stating in a diplomatic manner and silently thinking was, Miss Mari, get off my back will you please? I would surmise that this showcased his capability, and attempt to manipulate his environment.

Recently my son was attempting to draw me in to one of his discussions that resemble a verbal dissertation. These verbal tugs of war always occur when we are discussing a topic that he finds distasteful such as chore requests, manners, behavior, etc. I have realized that his verbal tug of wars is the direct result of his intent to draw me off the topic at hand. My response of choice is to tell him that the discussion is over and walk away. We must pick our battles carefully to reduce what I call the deaf ear syndrome. If the discussion is going in loops walk away. No audience takes the fun out of it.

During the conversation I told my son that I would not be roped into his verbal dissertation. His response was, “you just did Mom.  You answered me back”. One can see the manipulative power struggle that is evident here. I ignored my sons comment. His goal was to veer me away from the topic at hand. I continued on my way and held my ground. To continue our debate with have proved futile as we would have gone around in circles repeatedly. I attempt not to get drawn in to a rousing game of lets have a debate until mom forgets what she wanted me to do in the first place. I merely walk away and hold my ground.

4)      Individuals with Aspergers have no sense of humor

This belief stems from the fact that Aspergians tend to perceive statements from a literal perspective. Dual meanings or ideas in jokes are difficult to comprehend. I worked with a I was a one on one teacher with a ninth grade girl with Aspergers. I recall excitedly telling the teenage girl that she was on fire because she had comprehended an important concept we had worked on for an extended period of time. The young lady responded with stiffened limbs. She repeatedly demanded to know why I had said she was on fire. She kept saying “I am not on fire, I am not on fire, why do you say I am?”

Aspergians most certainly do have a sense of humor. One would merely have to observe the night I came home from a nine hour shift in a group home. I was extremely tired and fumbled for my keys in the dark night. Suddenly, a figure jumped out of the bush saying Boo I am Mari. I must have jumped 20 feet. My son had apparently downloaded a photo of me, cut a mask out of cardboard, and glued my picture on the front complete with eye holes. Hence, the reason he called it a Mari mask. Upon entering the house my other son was wearing one as well. This was definitely an example of my son’s ability to create a humorous experience.

In closing I would like to convey the fact that individuals with Aspergers present with the same range of emotions as neurotypicals, they merely convey those characteristics that every human being possesses in a way that works for them.

Perhaps we could all start looking at how we are similar versus how we are different. Accept each others differences and harness them to create a more copasetic and positive society.  No two Aspergians are alike anymore than two neurotypicals. Like Baskin Robbins ice-cream, humans come in 32 flavors. Embrace that individuality, forget the them and us ideology and replace it with a WE will get more accomplished than a ME. I will leave you with this question and provide an answer to ponder.

Question: Who is more important, the Physician or Trash Man.

Answer: They are both equally as important. Without a physician we could not TREAT disease and we would perish. Without trash men we would HAVE disease and become ill.

This is just a thought to ponder regarding differently abled individuals and society at large.

Regards,

Mari Nosal, M.Ed., CECE

A young charge with emotional issues presented with a distinct pout and no eye contact. I imagine she was feeling remorse due to her antics the day before. She had a troubled home life. My young charge was clinging to her caretakers leg with all her might. This was characteristic of possible verbal altercations between the girl and the caretaker before she was dropped off to my program.. This mode of behavior would present itself when the child had visited her parent as well. Relations between the child ,her biological  mom, and mom’s boyfriend had ups and downs to say the least.

Upon assessing the situation, I made a mental note to not assume the worst for the day ahead. Assuming leads to the self – fulfillment prophecy. A child will become who the role models in their life believe they will become. In actuality, a child who is expected to behave badly will behave as such. In actuality, they are behaving in an accommodating manner. The child does as they are told. We send them the message that they will misbehave, thus they do so.  I decided not to force the little girl away from her caretaker. I had seen this mood before. This quite sullen behavior would turn into defiance and aggression if not handled correctly.

Several children were taken aside by me. I quietly informed them that there peer was having a sad day. The other children were cajoled into inviting the lone child to see their coveted items that were brought from home. The child had a small glimmer in her eye. Nonetheless, she wavered and held onto her caretaker’s leg. I thanked the other children for befriending their young peer. I was aware that the guardian had to move on to her place of employment. I used diversion, but no tricks. My firm belief is if a child feels tricked by a teacher trust between the two will be lost. There is nothing worse than having a child turn around to “look at something” in the room and find the person they hold in their heart missing when they turn around. Closure is important during separation.

Emotionally troubled children tend to act out from a sense of no control in their lives. Not surprising, this child loves to help adults. I told the child that I had no one to help me set the table for snack, get cups, and serve children. The child was encouraged to help me. Initially, my request was ignored. I sat back and silently assessed the situation. Balloons are a favorite in the class room. The child was encouraged to release her death grip on the other woman’s leg when I promised her a balloon hat in return for assisting me with snack. She happily said good-bye to the woman and set off with me hand in hand.

The child relished her role of authority while handing out snack to all that entered. While usually feeling inferior to peers, this made her feel superior. While serving with one hand, she held onto my hand with her free one. I allowed her to keep the grip on me until she felt safe enough to venture out into the room with her peers. After completing various activities, we cleaned the room. I attempt to have the children lined up and seated by the door five minutes before the grade school teacher comes to retrieve them. We normally play a game such as I Spy while waiting. I have found this assists in transitioning from my room to a new environment. Uprooting the children without warning is calamity in the making. They need transition times to adjust.

The grade school teacher appeared at the door way to pick up her young charges. This teacher had been complaining about the uncontrollable behavior in her class regarding the child mentioned above. As the children lined up the teacher asked them how their evening had gone. When the teacher locked eyes with the child mentioned above, she neglected to ask how this child’s evening had gone. The teacher immediately said “we are going to have a good day today right”?  She told the child that she knew the child would make the right choices.

The teacher thought she was being positive with the child. I had the distinct impression that this connection could have been handled differently. Other children were asked how their evening went. This child was immediately asked to make good choices. By asking this child a different question the teacher had singled her out from her peers. I would have asked the child the same question as her peers, than possibly told the child I was confident that she could make good choices for the day. The first statement shows that the teacher has an interest in her as a person. It doesn’t just zero in on her behavior. As the children slinked down the hall I saw the child stepping out of the line and getting loud. Another off day ahead for sure. It could have been diverted.

Remember – Always look at a situation within the classroom in a reflective manner. Look at the whole child. My rule of thumb is that no negative behavior rears its head without a reason. There is always an answer to the problem if we step back, and  observe reflectively. With that answer, we can devise a solution.

Mari N. M.ED.

An exerpt from my after – school program experiences

 

 

Today I planned to execute a creative learning lesson for my school age program. (Fun after school time)  Lessons must be learned. Lessons must be executed in a fun way. My students spend all day in school sitting at a desk learning academics. My role is to present a constructive learning format. One stipulation is that a high fun factor is present. This task can be formidable to say the least. How can a lesson in science be hidden in play?  How can theories of magnetism or math be taught in a form that gifts the children with new information, but does not threaten student burnout? This is a challenge I am worthy of accepting.

I presented a lesson on soap sculptures. The children believed they were experiencing a mere arts and craft project. The hidden content was learned. The craft was fun but structured. Harmless melted soap chips turned into a math lesson, science lesson, and exuded a large curiosity factor. With out curiosity the children would rebel my efforts to implement this lesson. Solid soap chips of varied colors were melted together into a soppy mix. Before hand, the weight of the soap slivers was examined. My young charges placed a small mountain of soap on a scale. The weight was recorded. The soap was prepared for liquefying in the microwave.

Before transforming the soap into a liquid form we examined the solid consistency. I placed the slivers in the microwave. When the soap was removed, we compared the liquid form to it’s solid past. We talked about temperature changes. We poured the soapy liquid into measuring cups. A lesson in weighing liquid versus solid masses was learned. What had weighed 5 ounces in solid form had been transformed into liquid measurement. The children were in awe of the fact that microwaves could alter the composition of the mass.

We than proceeded to pour the liquid soap into molds intended for use in our play dough projects.  The amount of ounces needed for various molds was measured and noted. The soap was set aside and transformed into a solid mass. Upon observing our finished project, we weighed our creations. Children estimated beforehand what the weights would be upon the soaps return to a solid form. They were shocked that the creations weights were now varied. I explained that we had used various size molds to complete this project. This obviously affected the weight. A lesson was learned. The children left my classroom with a prize (their soap), and a new idea to ponder.  Objects in our world can be manipulated and structurally changed. Much like the children’s young sponge like minds.

One child looked concerned and lost in thought. I asked what the problem might be. My five-year old charge asked if he could turn into something else like the soap did. I responded by stating that his body was not capable of melting like soap. He is made of skin and bones, which hold him together. (Simplified for the child’s purpose). I told him that the only change his body would ever make is to get larger, stronger, and smarter.  An Aha moment has occurred. Perhaps one lesson will overlap into another based on these questions. Perhaps I shall have a lesson on the human body. Stay tuned for updates.

 

Mari N.

Educators have an awesome responsibility. They touch lives in a way not seen in many professions. Educators are molding the future leaders of our society. Bias and preconceived expectations have no place in my classroom. Self fulfillment prophecies cause failure. An ability to observe and trouble shoot in a objective manner can create a positive classroom climate.  The impact I have on the children directly affects their positive self efficacy. If skills are learned and an innate feeling of empowerment is instilled in the children, a positive indirect effect will culminate as well. Children will take their skills and use them to make a positive impact on others as adults.

Educators are leaders. Leaders develop many different styles. One is not necessarily better than another. The success of the style must be adapted to the population it serves. Educators spend more time with children than their parents do. Thus, we are fundamental contributors to the development of our charges. A fundamental part of the observation process is to find a teaching style that the students are responsive to.   The innate characteristics of a teacher are Directing, Participating, and delegating. Student engagement, and a student centered environment is my style of practice.

I have instilled trust in the children. Thus I instill a safe and positive classroom climate. The children know they can ask questions and their questions will not be undermined. If the children are not focused on the curriculum I am willing to adapt it by a voting system and shuffle the curriculum around. There is always a reason for lack of focus. As the educator, it is my job to look below the surface and seek resolution. Directing is done by modeling, explaining, visual lists, and then I slip off to the side and become a delegate. Delegating responsibilities for a project and acting as a coach are my ultimate goal.

If a child appears confused I am available to assist. My ultimate goal is to establish independence in the children. A firm belief is that a classroom climate that promotes independence, promotes empowerment. A child who is taught that the teacher’s assistance is needed at all times will get the distinct feeling that the teacher deems them incapable of doing anything on their own. Like snow flakes, no two students are alike. Using one form of instruction, materials delivery and assessment is not possible. Individualized instruction takes into account the learning needs and interests of each child. My program is curriculum based. Projects spawn from a book that has been read. I must be cognitive of varied levels. My children are multi age. Their cognitive levels are as staggered as a set of steps. The writer will give an example of individualized instruction. Last week, a book on leave siblings transformed into a nature walk to find leaves that fit the description of those in our book. Some children were preoccupied with finding leaves that corresponded with the colors in the book. Others just randomly snatched handfuls and popped the leaves in our container. Although I guided, the children made the ultimate choice.

We reentered the classroom with our prize, bins of leaves. The next step was to set them upon the table for a collage. The goal was to make the collage as similar to the book as possible. Some children searched for pointy the yellow leaf, Paige the red leaf, and Phil the red leaf. Google eyes were attached. Some children even added Popsicle stick branches.  One child with poor fine motor skills was showing signs of frustration. Google were sticking to her fingers instead of the leaf. As the child proceeded to walk away, the powers of observation gave me the ability to assess the situation. I could have deemed her lazy and defiant. That would have been deleterious to her future enthusiasm.

I stepped out of my coaching character and assisted in a way that the child still felt in control. I held down the leaf, rubbed glue stick on the top. The child than set the google eyes upon the leaf. Success was experienced. The child who was ready to give up actually asked if we could do another literary project the following day! The child was an active partner in our decision-making. I allowed for adaptation in the project so I could reach all learning modalities. I must take note that my I stepped in to assist the child’s project but the child still had an active role in the end result. The activity culminated with a child who was not made to feel incompetent in front of her peers. Her self-esteem was preserved.

The goals of a teacher are more complex than it seems on the surface. Many educators tell me that they like working with children and that was their reasoning behind entering the profession. Teaching is an art. An educator must be part educator and part sleuth. The classroom, the children, and the community must all be taken into consideration when observing and trouble shooting. The teacher is a facilitator. However to run a well-organized classroom we must have the ability to look at the class through the child’s eyes and not our own. In some ways, the child teaches the educator as much as the teacher educates the child.

As an adult, a classroom can evoke negative classroom experiences of our own childhood that can cloud the lenses that we view the class through. The social order of the class room, the play patterns, even disruptive behavior can evoke these memories. Memories can take two pathways in our own class. We can be introspective about our own past. Rather than reliving negativity that we encountered we can assess what was unpleasant to us and peers as children. We could remember an authoritarian classroom where the teacher had the last word. If we questioned the teacher we were ostracized to a far corner of the room. Perhaps we did not care for the class that was so silent we could hear a pin drop. I hated the rows of desks that did not allow for team work in the class.

If one becomes introspective, childhood classroom experiences can be a learning tool. Rather than repeating the very teaching styles we abhorred as children, we can draw upon those experiences to make a positive classroom climate. I hated the quietness of my child hood classroom. I now encourage group conversation and input into projects. A favorite democratic practice I use is the voting system. We vote on two items on the curriculum. The majority dictates which project is tackled first. I detested rows of desks. I now sit down on the floor with the children during circle time. I prefer being at their eye level, and it affords some great group discussions. I always tell the kids that I will never have them do anything I would not do myself. I model this, and have received respect for my authority as a result.

This writer would like to emphasize that she is not void of judgment. O n days when a recalcitrant child repetitively challenges me I find my self reverting to bias. I will avoid this child, and have even caught my self involuntarily rolling my eyeballs when she confronts me. However, I must remember my job is to teach her positive behavior strategies that will put her on a positive path. I consciously admit my foibles and strategize without singling her out.  Homework support was a constant battle with this particular child. I implemented a token reward system which is labeled on the wall above the homework table. Monday through Thursday a token can be earned for doing homework with out arguing or lying about what assignments need to be done. These tokens can be turned in on Friday for extra free choice time at a favorite activity. Homework battles have subsided.

Flexibility is the mother of invention in a classroom. I felt smug in regards to a warning system I developed. Three warning cards are attached to the wall. If all warnings are taken down no token is earned. I get up and silently remove a warning from the wall. If one warning remains on the wall the children earn a token. A chart on the wall was developed as a group project. The children colored the tokens. When twelve tokens are earned a group privilege is enjoyed. After a couple of months of using a movie as a privilege, poor behavior escalated. I charted behavior in reaction to new behavior programs in a notebook. Ultimately, the old token system was reinstituted. In charting reactions I found it was the most successful behavior program. I merely had to be flexible enough to take a vote on a new reward occasionally. Once new rewards are instituted the behavior subsides.

In closing I will summarize what skills a teacher must possess. Teachers have to understand their subjects, but remain flexible. Remaining flexible assists the teacher in helping students create cognitive maps, relate ideas, and clear up misunderstanding. Educators must connect teaching with everyday life. This assists in content. Assisting in content knowledge creates accessibility of ideas. Figure out what students know and how to make children excited about learning. Teach in ways that connect the child’s culture, social, emotional, and cognitive development into the learning process. Respect the child for who they are and never presume failure. Children will become who we believe they are. Be sensitive, inquiring, and structure situations where students talk about experiences. Motivating a child requires that we develop and appreciation and understanding for who they are. If we know what excites them we can incorporate it into the learning experience. Identify strengths yet address and strategize for weakness. Collaborate with students to teach teamwork. Collaborate with teachers for advice and support. Collaborate with parents to understand the home life. Be humble enough to analyze and change teaching strategies. Admit when a strategy does not work. Evaluation and observation is a constantly evolving process. As the child evolves so must the teaching environment, smile and show enthusiasm and the children will always smile back.

To all of you that make our society a better place by the contributions you make – thanks. :-0)

Mari