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Lesson Plans

behaviorally challenged

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
wendy sauls (wsauls)
Sat, 12 Sep 1998 13:27:05

hi all,

many emotionally handicapped kids are included in my art classes. i have
experienced heartache and frustration, but also have felt joy and
satisfaction seeing their interest in art grow and their behavior in the
art room improve because they like art, want to stay in class, and are
given fair, consistent, caring disciplinary guidelines. these kids are
"stuck" in my class 'cause i don't resist having them as some others do; i
am kinda proud of this! disruptions arise; usually i and the rest of the
class get through them without much trouble.

art room rules are linked to the philosophy that we are all there to learn
about art in a comfortable environment. if someone is hampering the
learning part or the comfortable environment part, they are warned and then
removed if neccessary. kids go to time out either in an isolated area in
our room or to a neighbor's room and copy a positive, affirming passage. 99
times out of 100 they come back without the negative attitude/behavior that
got them in trouble. i call home when kids are out of line and call back
to praise their improvement.

"special" kids who are "included" in art know attendance is hinged on
appropriate behavior. they are removed from art class for a day or week if
their behavior is unacceptable. i have a no tolerance for threatening or
violent behavior to other students or me - kids who do this are sent to
the dean/administration immediately. this policy is stated up front and
posted and restated as often as neccessary. i couldn't live with myself

our ese staff is the best! they are incredibly supportive, helpful,
informative... they teach us techniques to help kids learn and succeed and
to help us survive and be happy. we have a list of all "special" kids in
our classes; every teacher should and has the right to know. we also have
aides come with some students our administration is pretty good about
dealing with "special" issues, too.

this is not to say i haven't had days where i felt like screaming and
pulling my hair out over a particular little...sweetheart ;) or haven't
had situations that took a lot of work and persistence and time and
patience and other teacher support and a phone call to the union to clarify
what is required by contract, and to the school board member to get her
impression of things... you won't get anywhere by crying quietly in your
room during your planning period, complaining to your husband when you get
home, or even walking into your principal's office once a semester and
ranting and raving for ten minutes straight. don't get angry or depressed,
resolving yourself to a "hopeless" situation. and, maybe most important,
write everything down, document every behavior and response with time,
date, details...

isn't art called a "special" area in many schools?

not to overplay the sympathy aspect ( i know, we art teachers deserve lots
of it, too!), but the history of emotionally handicapped kids is often
nightmarish. and what about teachers who have these kids when they aren't
with us, for the rest of the day (severly eh kids may be in self contained
classrooms)?! eh kids do often require extra time, work, attention from us.
just think of it as one step closer to sainthood! :D
Wendy Sauls
Art Teacher, Kanapaha Middle School, Gainesville, FL
Doctoral Student, Art Education, Florida State University
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