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Welcome to kindergarten! Join me as I share my experiences in the classroom, my professional learning and reflections and my love of teaching. Teaching is an exciting journey - come along as I share mine!


Monday, March 28, 2016

Day 28: Brave

Brave by Sara Bareilles
 
You can be amazing
You can turn a phrase into a weapon or a drug
You can be the outcast
Or be the backlash of somebody’s lack of love
Or you can start speaking up
Nothing’s gonna hurt you the way that words do
When they settle ‘neath your skin
Kept on the inside and no sunlight
Sometimes a shadow wins
But I wonder what would happen if you

Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

With what you want to say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

Everybody’s been there, everybody’s been stared down
By the enemy
Fallen for the fear and done some disappearing
Bow down to the mighty
Don’t run, stop holding your tongue
Maybe there’s a way out of the cage where you live
Maybe one of these days you can let the light in
Show me how big your brave is

Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

With what you want to say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

(Lyrics from www.lyrics.com)


Why the song? Well, I have a student this year who is deaf.  She is six and lost all hearing and speech abilities at 3 years old.  She began learning signs about a year and a half ago.  Her signed vocabulary has probably quadrupled this year.  Her receptive language has blossomed even more than her expressive language.  Last year, in an early childhood delay classroom, she threw fits every. single. day.  Multiple times per day she would throw herself on the floor or flat out refuse to do something.  The staff of this classroom (not in my school) would bribe her with food (M & M's) to get her to do things (I know, say what?!).  The Speech and Language teacher at my school was adamant that this child did not belong in our school and that we could not provide the services that she needed.  There are no programs in the area (closer than 2 hours away) that meet her needs and those distant programs are live in programs - not something her parents are interested in at all.  After visiting her former classroom, I had some huge concerns but I also felt like we could help her.

Turns out, I was right! She is growing and blossoming in my classroom.  She has made huge gains in all areas.  Since September, she hasn't shown much defiance or noncompliance at all...in my classroom.  Since September, she has developed relationships with peers and adults...in my classroom.  Since September, she has been engaged and actively involved...in my classroom.  

She does not have the same successes with the speech and language teacher who still believes that she doesn't belong at our school.  This teacher has made it a point to prove that this child is behind in the kindergarten curriculum.  She believes that the child's interpreters give her too much credit, I give her too much credit, we give her too much information to answer questions, etc.  Worst of all though, she believes that it's her mission to prove that this child is behind because she doesn't think anyone sees that but her.  She is intimidated by the interpreters who work with the child.

I know this child is behind in the curriculum.  HOWEVER, what I also think is important, that she doesn't seem to understand, is that this child has had more than one year's worth of growth already this school year and it is only March.  This child began the school year with the vocabulary of a three year old (that might be a tad generous) and now has the vocabulary of at least a five year old.  This child has had a vocabulary explosion!  She is understanding and signing more words than I ever expected, she is reading, she is writing, she is telling stories, she is adding and subtracting, she has learned numbers to twenty, she has learned all the letters and all of the kindergarten sight words.  Yes, her reading is a little behind and her writing is a little behind.  Yes, she struggles with comprehension because she doesn't understand how to answer open ended questions.  Yes, she struggles with writing some of the words of her signed story because she doesn't know how to spell them by memory yet (and she can't sound out words like her peers).  BUT, she is learning two languages at the same time.  She is reading and writing in English and is learning American Sign Language (ASL) at the same time and is using ASL to communicate.

Yes, this child is behind her peers.  Why do we need to focus on that?  Yes, we need to acknowledge that fact.  No one is denying it.  That truth isn't going anywhere, but there is this whole other side of this child.  A side that has done some amazing things this year.  A side that we never expected (but hoped) to see this year.  This child has blown my goals for her out of the water over and over and over this year.  This is where my focus lies.  This child has done some incredible learning this year and she deserves to be celebrated for that, not shot down for what she isn't doing. 

I have had plenty of opportunity this year for stretching my braveness where this child is concerned.  I have asked questions and had to seek out my own answers when no one else had them.  I have had to push my colleagues to seek out appropriate ways to do things for this child.  I have had to push for services to be given at times because they were slacking.  I have had to...had to...had do.  It's not in my comfort zone to push and demand from others. I don't like to be in conflicts with others.  BUT, I will stand up for this child.  I will speak up for this child.  I will NOT let her be smothered by an adult who can't get past her own insecurities.  

Brave has become my theme song.  It is the song that runs through my head and spurs me on when things get hard.  I'm showing just how big my brave is.

11 comments:

  1. Wow - is this little girl so fortunate to have you in her corner, backing her up and demanding she be allowed to continue to grow. What is wrong with that woman? She shouldn't be allowed near students! Hope your principal supports you!

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  2. Be brave and keep being brave! This little one needs you so much. Thanks for being such a caring and devoted teacher.

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  3. She is SO lucky to have you advocating for her! Unfortunately there are TOO many children not advocated for by the adults and teachers in their lives. You are a living, breathing, wonderful example. I had a friend recently go through something similar. Stick with it! In the end, you will have made a huge difference in that child's life.
    Thank you for sharing this with the world! It is SO important!

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  4. She is SO lucky to have you advocating for her! Unfortunately there are TOO many children not advocated for by the adults and teachers in their lives. You are a living, breathing, wonderful example. I had a friend recently go through something similar. Stick with it! In the end, you will have made a huge difference in that child's life.
    Thank you for sharing this with the world! It is SO important!

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  5. You keep on keeping on!! And when it is time to share her with next year's teacher, I can tell you will be brave enough to give as much support to that teacher as you didn't get from others when it was your turn. You are making a monumental difference in this child's life and THAT is the most important thing. She may not be able to express it now, or ever, but by believing in her and celebrating her successes, you are doing more for her than she will ever know.

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  6. You keep on keeping on!! And when it is time to share her with next year's teacher, I can tell you will be brave enough to give as much support to that teacher as you didn't get from others when it was your turn. You are making a monumental difference in this child's life and THAT is the most important thing. She may not be able to express it now, or ever, but by believing in her and celebrating her successes, you are doing more for her than she will ever know.

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  7. It's extremely frustrating when our main goal is to do everything we can to help a student achieve success and we feel sabotaged. Don't let it get you down. Keep being brave and stick to your guns. Let her surprise everyone.

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  8. Wow! How inspiring! Both you and your student have been brave enough to push the boundaries of your "comfort zone." Your passion for growth and learning comes through in this piece. I am so happy to hear of the amazing progress of this student.

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  9. Robin, another reason you make me so proud to say you are my sister! You go!

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  10. We use this song as a brain break dance party!! Thank you for everything you are doing to help this brave student!!!

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  11. We use this song as a brain break dance party!! Thank you for everything you are doing to help this brave student!!!

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