Monday, November 26, 2007

My over-active imagination

Last summer after I swore I would never watch an episode of Grey's Anatomy again (which lasted until I watched the season premiere this fall...) my husband and I began watching House as a replacement to G.A. I'm slowly becoming addicted and sometimes find myself imagining my coworkers and I are in House, but we're analyzing my special education kids instead of patients.

What is so compelling about House is that it depicts a group of drs in a room analyzing a situation to discover two things:
1) a cause
2) a cure.
Really, not so far from what we are trying to do with our special education kiddos if you think about it. To find a cause the drs have to ask a lot of questions, take data, run tests, look at the entire patient, make hypothesis, test the hypothesis, revise the hypothesis, and test again. They are ok with being wrong the first time. Being wrong rules out possibilities and lets them move on to the next hypothesis that could be the one to save the patient's life. Being wrong is a step toward being right.

Instead of being discouraged with some of my children's progress and behavior issues I try to think that we're all sitting around in our white dr coats trying to break the code and discover the cause. We have to ask questions, find patterns and trends, take data, and examine the whole child. We have to brainstorm ideas and have it be ok to be wrong.

A House-Special Education-Scene:
Dr. House:(stated with sarcasm yet a sense of urgency) We have a case of a six-year-old child who refuses to participate with a group. According to his charts, his behavior is reported to not have changed since kindergarten. He responds well to read-alouds but poorly to mathematical and scientific lessons. He currently is banging his head in the back of the classroom and throwing pencils at other children. Thoughts?
One not so bright member of specialized team: ADHD?
House: "Sure, give everyone a diagnosis of ADHD. Why not? He responds well to read-alouds and reading activities, but hey, what else does my genius team have for me?" (ok, so hollywood wont be asking me to be a script-writer anytime soon)
Team: "Is he doing whole-group math problems or differentiated math problems?"
"Is he distracted by the children around him?"
"If he is not in the classroom setting can he do the work independently?"
House: Why are you still sitting here? Go run tests! Take data! Find out!

I recently spent a lot of time creating a social story for a kid only to have it not work at all. I pictured myself in House stating matter-of-factly that we ran the high verbal social story test and it showed no response so now we will run the non-verbal social story test.
House always sends a team to the patient's house to take soil samples or see if there is some environmental factor causing the sickness. We have to do that too, as much as we can. Home visits tell us so much, as do talking with parents and learning more about the child's home life. A child has trouble when he comes into the building in the morning? House would yell at the team and tell us to go to the child's house in the morning to discover the cause of the problem. Run tests. Take samples. Get information. Develop theories.

I even put together a team of experts to work on a particular difficult case. It's composed of an administrator, two classroom teachers, the clinic aide, the school nurse, the social worker, and the guidance counselor. I know they all hate me for my group emails, but we're making progress. We email our theories, share data, and test hypotheses. Again, it's ok to be wrong because it is getting us closer to our answers. The more ideas thrown out there the more we know and the more we can say, "yes, we considered that but ruled it out due to...." (I'd like to state that I did not put together this team purely to pretend I was in a tv show, the tv show similarities are just a nice bonus. If only we all had white coats and walked around the hallways very quickly...)

House recently fired all of his staff but in a soul-searching moment realized he needed them because he worked better when he could bounce ideas of others. I like to think of our planning and collaboration meetings as being as important as meetings between doctors, important, brilliant minds working together looking for a cause to aide us in a cure. Really, sometimes we need to take ourselves more seriously and realize that we're not "just teachers" we are TEACHERS: doctors of the planet! Saviors of the World!

Sometimes keeping things in perspective helps us from getting stressed out. Other times creating an imaginary life related to a television show helps. Whatever works, right?


Jenny said...

You are brilliant! I am so glad you are blogging. Somehow, working in the same building I never get to see your brilliance as clearly as I do here.

noretreat said...

It's not an over-active imagination. It's your ability to see things in different ways and from new perspectives that makes you so good at what you do. Love the analogy to House!